The Great American Stalemate Will Show Who We Really Are
We find ourselves in the midst of a Great American Stalemate. That’s the conclusion I am coming to after having considered what has been going on in my country over the last many months. In fact, I have felt pretty helpless since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. I fully support him, not because I am a Republican (I am not), nor because I agree with him on everything (I do not).
I do, however, support Mr. Trump because – frankly – he is my President and his success means success of my country.
I’ve felt helpless all this time and I just couldn’t figure out why. For a long time, I thought it was because I could not say or post what I really wanted to state out of worry that I would lose cherished friends or cripple relationships with close loved ones. I thought I was feeling helpless because I just couldn’t understand how things got so ugly in our great country. Every step of progress seems to be accompanied with two steps back.
The future – from the heart of this American Stalemate – seems hopeless. And, I say this as a straight, Christian, Caucasian, male. In this stalemate, everywhere I turn it seems like I should be apologetic for that fact.
I make no apologies, however. And that does not make me racist, sexist, intolerant, or any other form of derogatory -ism. I’m simply a human being.
We Can Be More Than Just a Bunch of Stupid Kids
I once received informal counsel from a friend (God rest his soul) that came in unexpected circumstances. He reminded me that maintaining grudges against those from years ago is silly. “Come on, Chad,” he said. “We were all just a bunch of stupid kids back then.”
I pondered that long and hard. I came to understand he was completely right, and with the work of the Holy Spirit in me, I felt the stone side of my heart become more of flesh.
In that context, I recall an interview of French anthropologist Dr. G. Clotaire Rapaille. During that interview, he said something to the effect that he loved to study American culture because it is so adolescent. That made a lot of sense to me. We were, after all, a young nation that was still feeling its way. In many ways, we have been the gifted high school scholar, athlete, musician, or artist. We’ve also been the troubled kid, the spoiled kid or the geek.
We’ve literally been the Breakfast Club on display for the whole world to see.
And today, we’ve reached a very pivotal moment of our nation’s maturity. We’ve gone to college. It’s the first time we’ve been away from mom and dad. It’s the first time we’ve had to experience any semblance of personal responsibility while also having all the freedom to either screw up our lives forever, or make that mental switch where we realize we may need to actually get up and go to that 8AM class. Where it might actually be a good idea to study instead of take in late night video game binges or be the center of attention at the kegger.
You know the one I’m talking about. That one where someone might have thought you were being relentlessly hazed – except you aren’t even pledging anywhere.
What Happened After High School?
While we love to watch the Breakfast Club and the symbolism of it all, few people ever talk about what Andrew Clark, Claire Standish, John Bender or Brian Johnson might have done after high school. No. Instead, they remain victoriously frozen in their conquering of Saturday School where they supposedly learned to realize life is not always what it seems and that those who are the most different from us are not really that much different after all.
I’ve always thought that St. Elmo’s Fire was a good unofficial sequel to the Breakfast Club. The movie follows a group of once “stupid kids” following graduation from college and the movie contains many of the same actors. However, life is anything but simple and free for this group. They encounter hardships and learn that life is not always fair. They find out first-hand that they can’t label themselves as victims forever.
It’s time, they find out, to grow up.
Can America Figure Out it’s Time to Grow Up?Many of the people in my freshman hall failed to make the pivot. I watched, helpless, as they crashed and burned. They could not figure out it was time to grow up and move forward. There was an unwillingness to let go of who they were. They longed for yesterday or somehow thought their future was going to be even better without putting in any of the work it takes.
Many of those “stupid kids” didn’t make it past the first year. I was almost one of them. Only by the grace of God and a hell of a lot of very hard work did I get beyond. Never once, though, did I state I was a victim of anything other than my own ignorance and hubris.
Today, our nation must consider its pivot. The next moves are vital to what we are going to be when we grow up. Will we be a nation of whiners that blames everyone except themselves? Are we going to be such arrogant and selfish fools that we initiate a second Civil War?
Are we going to annihilate ourselves, or are we gonna get our tails out of bed and go to that 8AM class each and every day while we still have a chance to make something of ourselves?
How We Can Rise Above the Great American Stalemate
Know and Respond to Our Higher Calling
I get it. You may not be a Christian or even believe in God. Whichever the case, I would guess that you believe there is a broader purpose to humanity than merely “to be.” Reflect on that and really consider your higher calling. The greater good. We’ve been gifted with varying levels and types of intelligence. Something no other species can claim to be on par with. Clearly, there must be a reason.You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. – Psalm 32:8-9 (NIV)
Love in Your Heart“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. – Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)
It’s real easy to not love others when you yourself have felt unloved. It’s easy to hate when everything in your life tells you it is the thing to do and that you are justified in your hate. However, I can tell you first-hand what hate can do to your life. I can tell you how it destroys your soul, how it pushes away friends and loved ones, how hate leaves you bitter and alone.
However, I’m not going to go there. Hating on someone is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Nothing good comes from it. Instead, LET GO of the victim mentality. Remember that YOU ARE BETTER than hate. YOU WERE MADE FOR SO MUCH MORE THAN TO HATE.May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. – 1 Thesalonians 3:12 (NIV)
Learn to love. Then, let’s seek to have a heart filled with it.
Love in Action
It’s not enough to know our higher call and to love. We must respond to that call and be love in action.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:18-19 (NIV)
As Bob Goff will tell you, Love Does.
That’s a future in which we all should be casting our lines.
About Chad Gramling
Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.