Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hand Grenades and Hurricanes

I was thinking (always a dangerous thing) about why the worlds dislike of this country seem to be growing. My conclusion? In our world where perception is reality the image of the good old U. S. of A. is beyond tarnished. What are we showing the rest of the world? Are we the shining city on the hill or the sleazy strip mall no longer popular with the new kids on the block? And what are we doing about it? Sure there are many who realize we are not the "Great Satan" but there are many, who with good reason, have that perception. It's very easy to generalize based on limited information about a person or group of people. And when the overall view is laced with greed, sex, deceit, and violence even thought that is only small part of the whole picture that is the perception that stays.

In those tempestuous 60's I was in my twenties. I was young and just as full of myself as the rest of those hippies who thought that the love, peace and brotherhood ushered in by the age of Aquarius would bring a brighter world. What ever happened to those kids and those ideals? The kids grew up and as Queen says in "Fat Bottomed Girls" (one of my favorite songs) "got a mortgage on my home" and that home is now a McMansion and love has turned to lust. But then in reflection, that's what it was in the 60's. And peace, those same hippies kids are now shooting up schools and drugs. Brotherhood has more to do with the "hood" than with my brother. Is it any wonder that the world views us with disdain?

Joseph Campbell tells the wonderful story of the god Indra who slays a monster with a couple of lightening bolts. Feeling so important for a job well done he decides to build a house and, to the frustration of the gods carpenter, the home becomes a growing McMansion. Each time the celestial contractor visits another wing is added. Finally, fed up, the builder appeals to the local committee issuing the permit. A handsome blue boy shows up at the site and tells Indra his is a situation common to the other Indras. Indra says in dismay, what other Indras. With that an army of ants proceeds to march across the floor, row by row, file by file. And the blue boy comments, "Former Indras all".

So here we are building our homes with no regard for our neighbors. Are we original, unique? I don't think so. We've earned it, haven't we? Yes, we have. but now comes the part that's going to bite us in the ass. I direct your attention to Ecclesiastes Chapter 1, verse 9:

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be:and that which is done is that which shall be done:and there is no new thing under the sun.

We have a responsibility to share. By everything that's holy we owe a debt to others. They look at our wealth with starving eyes. They see us as that "Mr. Charlie" who calls the shots and takes as much as possible giving little in return.

There is something to be said about those suicide bombers, their faith is so strong they gladly die knowing that a paradise awaits. How many of us religious Americans would be willing to do that? It kind of makes me wonder about the strength of our convictions. Well, yes their standard of living is not at a par with most of ours and desperation leads to desperate actions. What I see in this country is the desperate youth of our inner cities dying, not for a ideal, but for a dollar. It points out the difference in priorities.

We are all victims of our culture. That youngster recruited to destroy himself and others at the same time is not so different from the kid on the corner selling dime bags. The destruction brought on by the corner kid is not as spectacular but just as devastating. The methods in this country are more insidious. The radical Imam and gangsta rap are not that far removed from each other. One says die for an ideal and the other says die for money. It is the impressionable and often times poorly educated which are most vulnerable to these messages. Literacy is as lacking in many parts of the middle East as it is in our own inner cities.

So what to do? I'm going to get into a lot of trouble with some of you out there for saying this but as Zorba said "Trouble? Life is trouble." First we must pray for our enemies. That's what Christ said. Pray that they are blessed as we have been blessed. Why would we do that? Because if they have what we have they will slip into the same complaisance that we enjoy. More important it will relieve our hatred. I mean, how can you wish the blessing of God on someone you hate. I know this works, I used it on my feelings for my ex-wife.
Secondly, I do think God is trying to tell us something with the wars and natural disasters. One thing about our God, the Spirit is consistent.

Let me insert a note here about my concept of God. We can't comprehend what that name implies or is. "I Am" is about as close as we can come. So "He", "She", "Great Spirit", "Allah" or any other convenience we use is just that, a convenience.

Now where was I? Oh,yes , about to go to that cheerful little guy, Jeremiah. Chapter 5, Verse 27 to be exact.

As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: there fore they are become great and waxen rich.
They are waxen fat, they shine, yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper and the right of the needy they do not judge.
Shall I not visit for these things? sayeth the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on a nation such as this?


Blogger Kasia said...

Yes it is so sad - our culture is so commercialize. I know this crazy hip hop artist, who named his album "Get rich or die tryin"". I mean - what is it? Is it REALLY that important? It is shockiong actually. What about real virtues? What has happened with them? What has happened with world? I think the western world has lost itself in the pursuit of golden dreams. And the little things - the things most of us usually don't notice -are the mightiest, the most important - love, true friendship, the sunshine in your kitchen window, and the rainbows. That's life.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Ally Bean said...

One says die for an ideal and the other says die for money.

the question for me is: why die at all? live for an ideal or money, but the purpose of life is to live.

and both of these undereducated, easily manipulated groups of young men are missing the point of life entirely.

learning to live fully takes effort and maybe that is just too difficult for them, so they hid within the group and create hate.

don't know the answer, but interesting post to get me thinking.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

Well, I'll be printing this post; it has a lot of good questions. Life has sure gotten out of balance - the have and have nots. I know it will take generations to straighten this out, and a lot of hard work. It is ultimately a spiritual problem.

3:23 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

The condition of our world and even our nation can bring us into the shadow of hopelessness if we allow it - but God is still in control and is not worried.

We may not be able change the whole world but we can have an effect for good on those in our sphere of influence and allow the love light of Jesus to shine through our lives into the lives of those that have no hope.

Some of the early disciples were identified as 'those that have turned the world upside down' - if the present Christians don't change their world, God will raise up some that will. May the Spirit of God help us to be the ones that really do change our world! ec

6:58 PM  
Blogger Binty McShae said...

An interesting and thoughtful post, Mac.

Although you correctly identify a 'Godless' aspect of the US that causes many to hate it there is also a growing hatred toward your country from fellow 'heathen' lands. This distaste springs from the perceived arrogance, the idea that the US is the greatest country in the world, that eveything in this world must be done according to the wishes of that one country. And although many Americans would dispute these accusations they do exist.

A friend of mine over here works for one of the biggest companies in the world, one of US origin. Recently she had a visit from a big shot high up in the company infrastructure but based on his home soil. The attitude and arrogance displayed by this gentleman were shocking. Starting from his comments about an "arab-looking man" that had been stopped by security as he arrived (Hmm... yep, over here there are quite a few "arab-looking men"), on to his ignorance of geography (he thought Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpar were all in China and could be done together in a couple of days...) and carrying on through his absolute lack of respect for religious holidays ("Why can't I meet with our Malaysian counterparts on an Islamic holiday?"). The clearest example of his behaviour was perhaps when he was told things were not done a certain way in Asia. His response was "But this is an American company. We do things the American way." Unfortunately that attitude is not confined to the business world....

1:12 AM  
Blogger Billy D said...

Great post my friend. A fallen world we're in right now. Too bad. But, God's will be done, He'll take care of things as He sees fit, and we'll just ride on and enjoy what we can while we can, I guess.

4:51 AM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Kasia, you mention the things that are the real stuff of life. It's really not "all about the money."

Yes, life is very dear and should be enjoyed to the fullest, Ally. That is the promise of my Lord and Savior, Jesus. It's not being saved by Him that leads to a variety of deaths.

It's taken us years to get to this point, Bonita, We are seeing the results of not following the spiritual precepts that have been given us. God wants nothing but the best for us and has given us instructions how to achieve happiness but we reject Him like small children rebelling against a living parent.

Mr. E. I knwew you would pick up the implied message. Sons and Daughters of God must speak up and let the world know Christs message of love. Whether the world agrees or not is not the point. The seed must be planted and and then we must let God work. At least we they will understand we are not all Godless ingrates.

I touched on your thoughts, Binty with the Indra story and the "Mr. Charlie" label. You are so right about the American arrogance. It has no place in todays world and can only exacerbate the problem.

I really appreciate the comments on this post. I hoped it would be thought provoking. Thanks.

5:08 AM  
Blogger Leslie Shelor said...

When I was in Wales I was impressed with the fact that a nine year old child knew his native Welsh, English and French. We care so little about other cultures and languages here; it's no wonder we're misunderstood and resented as individuals as well as a nation. Our riches create an even larger divide, even with nations that have common interests and goals. And our poverty shames us in the eyes of nations.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Hick said...

Interesting post...makes me think (I hate it when that happens.)

All the more reason to turn to Christ for our only hope.

I really think that the world also judges us based on movies and tv shows and commercial advertisements. Perception is reality...so they say.

12:05 PM  
Blogger adannells said...

I agree wholeheartedly with MrEddie!!
God is in complete control. We must do what we can to spread Christ's love to those around us.
It is He Who will bring true peace to the world!

9:26 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

We are a such self centered country, Leslie. and what Binty says in his comment regarding Americans being so full of themselves is very true.

That's right, Hick. What the various forms of media show to the world is the only picture many people see of this country. And Christ is the only hope in any situation.

Annie, God is in controll and this is just part of his plan but we must be His voice on earth. And at this time that voice must be heard loud and clear. You know, the appostle Peter not always said the right thing but he was not called "son of thunder" for nothing. It is our commision to let people know of Gods love and that He "gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

4:33 AM  
Blogger Sandra Bennett said...

Good preaching, Brother MacBean.

I don't watch much television, don't listen to much radio, chose my family carefully and friends even more carefully...I'm always shocked when I'm presented with what passes for "America". As a nationa, we're slipping and slipping quickly and "The Screwtape Letters" have come to pass.

God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands.

9:57 AM  

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