Hope for Our Darkened Town on a Mound

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,” Matthew 5:14.

“America is and always will be a shining city on a hill,” Ronald Reagan

“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide,” Abraham Lincoln.

America has been different from any other country since her inception. Now, we’re different in different ways. Only 22 or so years ago, the US “led the world in the proportion of young people who were creating new businesses and who were either working or looking for work. ”

In The Collapse of Parenting, Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, points out that in only 11 years, “the United States had dropped from first to last” among eight developed countries with entrepreneurial and working young people.

What changed?

Sax asserts that children have lost the understanding of their own culture, which encompassed basic principles of respect that come from sources such as, in earlier times, the Bible along with the Golden Rule, and more recently, Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which translates, in essence, to respect for others.

Some of Fulghum’s points include the following:

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

As I said. Basic.

Today’s American kids, Sax says, are more, much more, likely to be overweight, under-rested, and on medications to control their behavior than were their peers of a couple of decades ago.

“The proportion of obese kids more than quadrupled. . . . obese, not merely overweight. (emphasis Sax’s) . . . In every age group from 6 to 18, the average American kid is sleep deprived; and the older the child the more sleep deprived she or he is likely to be. . . . American kids are about 8.7 times more likely to be on these medications [the mind-altering kind that helps kids sit still or stay awake in school] compared with kids in Germany, 56 times more likely compared with kids in Norway . . . 93 times [more than] kids in Italy.”

What has happened to bring about such change?

Sax asserts that American society is now peer-driven, no longer parent-driven. Kids worry more about what their friends think than what their parents think.

“Without strong guidance from parents, children and teenagers turn to the marketplace for guidance about what counts. And today, the American marketplace . . . is focused narrowly and relentlessly on fame and wealth. . . . which impoverishes the soul.”

The problem largely rests in parents shifting their priorities from raising young people with character to keeping kids happy.

Sending children on a quest to attain perpetual happiness doesn’t produce disciplined, productive people who respect others.

Even though the changes Sax discusses have, for the most part, happened in the last 20 years, this transformation of our society didn’t begin recently.

Rod Dreher sites “Philip Rieff, an unbelieving Jew, [who] recognized that a massive shift happened in Western consciousness in the late 19th and early 20th century: Western man went from being ‘Religious’ (in the sense that he affirmed a set of values rooted in religion, however badly he observed them) to being ‘Psychological’ (abandoning the ideal of virtue, instead simply trying to manage the anxiety of living without ultimate meaning). But we were still Christian enough as a society back in the 1950s and 1960s such that the Civil Rights movement could use openly Christian language and concepts to shame their fellow Christians in America into repentance.”

We’ve fallen a great distance from the transition away from faith to the ’60s, and to today.

Where is the hope then?

It’s found in parents taking up their most important job, shaping their child’s character to teach humility, enjoying their children, thereby spending time leading them, and encouraging children to seek purpose and meaning. Such purpose and meaning come through the pursuit of “meaningful work,” finding (in the appropriate time) “a person to love,” and toiling on behalf of “a cause to embrace.”

Such a path toward hope begins, Sax asserts, with such a simple step as eating dinner together as a family on a regular basis and the harder step of establishing loving authority as a primary component of the role of parent.

A return to faith, the self-sacrificing sort Christianity proposes, lays the foundation for respect, discipline, and virtue through such steps. That path leads to happiness since serving others best gives our lives meaning and gives us satisfaction.

In the restoration of faith, discipline, and satisfaction through service, America can restore itself as the light of a city on a hill.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Pray Now

This Thursday is the 68th National Day of Prayer in the US.  The roots of the observance go back to post World War II America. 

In 1952, Conrad Hilton (of Hilton Hotels) and Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas, both veterans of World War I, initiated a bill to direct the president to name a day of prayer yearly.

Stephen White explains that “Hilton came to view prayer as no less a necessity and no less a sanctuary than work. ‘Some men jump out windows, some quit,’ his mother told him during the Great Depression. ‘Some go to church. Pray Connie. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.’ Even at the darkest, most difficult moments of his life, Hilton always found strength and consolation in his faith.”

Hilton saw prayer as necessity and sanctuary. As did Carlson.

Along with his efforts to establish a day dedicated to prayer, Carlson also initiated the yearly Annual National Prayer Breakfast. At the event in 1986, President Ronald Reagan told this story.

“One night in 1952 during the Presidential campaign, Dwight Eisenhower confided something to one of his advisers, a close friend, Senator Frank Carlson. And Eisenhower told him that during the war when he was commanding the allied forces in Europe, he’d had a startling and vivid spiritual experience — he had actually felt the hand of God guiding him, felt the presence of God.

“And the general told the Senator that this experience and the support of his friends had given him real spiritual strength in the hard days before D-day. Senator Carlson said he understood. He, himself, was getting spiritual help from the members of a little prayer group in the Senate. And a few months later, the general, who was now the President, asked Frank Carlson over to the White House.

“And he told him, ‘Frank, this is the loneliest house I’ve ever been in.’ Carlson said, ‘Mr. President, I think this may be the right time for you to come and meet with our prayer group.’ And Eisenhower did just that.

“In 1953 he attended the first combined prayer breakfast.”

And so a new tradition was born.

It’s a tradition born out of necessity and sanctuary–as prayer to our sovereign God has always been. As we have necessity now to find sanctuary.

When Eisenhower led the Allied efforts in Europe during World War II, he also found sanctuary in the necessity of prayer. On the eve of D-Day in 1944, he broadcast a message to the troops about to invade Europe, including these words:

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”

Many died on the beaches of Normandy and in fighting that pushed through western Europe to secure victory. Eisenhower had known that many would give their lives.

He knew heavy, dark days lightened and illuminated through prayer, lightened and illuminated through God’s presence and guidance.

Let’s not wait until Thursday to begin to seek His presence, His leading for us.

Let us pursue justice, mercy, and humility. Let us pursue the lightening of burdens and the Light of the world. Let us find the sanctuary of His presence.

Let us pray.

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet,” Isaiah 58:1a.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Taking Us to the Edge of Darkness?

“I have no personal stake in these people, Jean-Claude, but they are people. Good, bad, or indifferent, they are alive, and no one has the right to just arbitrarily snuff them out.”

“So it is the sanctity of life you cling to?”

I nodded. “That and the fact that every human being is special. Every death is a loss of something precious and irreplaceable.” ~ Laurell K. Hamilton

Social Security came to be during the Great Depression as a way of moving older workers out of their jobs to make room for younger workers. Robert W. Merry points out that, today, the Social Security fund is running out of money.

“Consider the recent report that Social Security costs will exceed the program’s income next year, which means Social Security will have to begin dipping into its $3 trillion trust fund to maintain benefit payments. And that trust fund, under current projections, will run out of money within 15 years.”

The problem looms like an oncoming freight train, yet there is little discussion of a solution.

We’ve seen this problem before. In the early 1980s, Bob Dole, a Republican, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, put their heads together to save the program, which was in crisis at the time.

The solution Dole and Moynihan came up with involved taxing Social Security benefits and postponing those benefits until later in life. When the program began, life expectancy was not what it was in the ’80s although it remains close today to what it was during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

With fewer children being born, the fund can only become more unstable or more expensive per person. Veronique de Rugy writes that between “1945 and 1965, the decline in worker-to-beneficiary ratios went from 41 to 4 workers per beneficiary. Now that rate is 2.9 workers for every recipient.

The cure, if there is one to be found, for this situation may depend on who holds power in Congress and the White House as the problem comes to its inevitable head.

One solution may include higher taxes–both on workers and recipients–and more delays in receiving benefits although it seems unlikely that elder voters will embrace putting off their benefits beyond age 70.

Some may suggest yet another solution–one that is already in play in some places–the withdrawal of medical care from the terminally ill–or the withholding of care from those who need it to continue living–or the overt act of killing someone whose productivity has passed or will never come to be.

Andrea Peyser writes about Stephanie Packer who suffers from scleroderma–an auto-immune disease that causes scar tissue to accumulate in her lungs. She has outlived her prognosis by six years. But not because of any help she got from her insurance company or the state of California–which allows physician-prescribed-suicide.

“[At one point,] her doctors suggested that switching to another chemotherapy drug might buy her time. Her medical insurance company refused to pay. She says she asked if the company covered the cost of drugs to put her to death. She was told the answer is yes — with a co-payment of $1.20.”

We need to let that sink in. The insurance company refused to provide care that would extend Packer’s life, but killing herself would only cost her $1.20.

Some countries where the government manages all health care have moved even further down this road than America has.

In the United Kingdom, there were the cases of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard–children who died because of a lack of care–care which would have been expensive.

Medical personnel wanted to actively kill Alfie, but his parents protested. The child finally died after authorities ordered the removal of his life support and a court refused to allow him to go to another country for treatment.

Medical decisions are happening based on cost-effectiveness without regard to patient outcomes, families’ wishes, or even a patient’s own desire to stay alive.

Very concerning: right now, 72 percent of Americans believe euthanasia–assisted suicide–should be legal. The only group for which the numbers fall under a majority are weekly churchgoers.

It’s sad to see that so many people don’t see the slope that slides between voluntary death and mandated murder. When the government is the highest authority–when the government pays for everything–or even when it doesn’t–life becomes secondary.

Simon Fitzmaurice, a victim of ALS, escaped death in Ireland only because the person helping him breathe didn’t know the rules. And the rules state that ALS patients don’t receive ventilators–even though the equipment is available at no cost to the government.

This filmmaker and writer would have received a death sentence–if not for the accident of his rescue–and his refusal–even under pressure–to have the ventilator removed after he received it.

Where once America provided for retirees to make room for younger workers, we may soon find ourselves eventually officially abandoning care for our elders, as well as the weak and sick, to make a financial way to care for everyone else.

But everyone else will then have to watch their own backs.

Such a turn of events would be tragic indeed. Life offers few securities. Embracing euthanasia would deprive us of the security that comes from having a society that reveres human life–a society that understands our lives are worthy of respect until their natural end.

Embracing euthanasia would deprive us of precious and irreplaceable human lives snuffed out on the altar of cost-effectiveness.

It is too great a price to pay to save a little money. There must be a better way.

There must be.

“All life is sacred. Human life is especially so. Protecting it is of utmost importance to God. He takes this so seriously and personally because He made humanity to reflect Him. We are His earthly representatives, made in His image. To murder another person is to mount an attack on the One who created him.” (Genesis 9:8-10 Voice)

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”