Friday, September 7, 2012

Building Character into Our Countrymen and Countrywomen

Another summer has come and nearly gone with the advent of children returning to public, private, and home schools. Our country sits at a tremulous crossroads while the world watches. Elections this November will decide the fate of those very children returning to school and during their adult life times. Will Romney prevail or will Obama stay in his power seat, throttling the democracy out of our constitutions and our Constitution?

Estimates are that many baby boomers with grandchildren in the schools won't survive the loss of Social Security for their retirement over the next decades and if Obamacare isn't revoked, they won't survive after age seventy because of rationed medical care anyway.

Our federal government is so deep in debt to China, if the communists called in their debt, we'd have to deed several states over to them--Alaska, Hawaii, Texas?? Who knows. Every new economic report tries to put a positive spin on unemployment while oil barons keep raising the price of fuel. The greed and corruption in our country and government are deafening.

Some say the young ones of today have been coddled and spoon fed with designer jeans and athletic footwear. The nearest they come to having a real social interaction is Skype, Facebook, and YouTube. They've forgotten who their neighbors are and turn inward into a place called My Space with smart phones and movies or violent games on their handheld droids.

It seems the age of information has become the first stage of great fragmentation. Where is the line between reality and existing for the sole purpose of playing with your newest electronic toys? When was the last time your grandson or kid sister had the grace and gratitude to write you a thank you note for their birthday gifts you mailed for a small fortune?

What will the USA look like in 20 years? Most Christians are murmuring about the End Times and all the obvious signs, but what if the tribulation is meant as much for lukewarm "Christians" as it is for atheists? Will our children stand for Christ in the face of mass persecution? Or will they kneel to a Stalinist One World ruler?

Our victory over bleak circumstances seems to all boil down to character, faith in Christ, and inner peace--those things no man can steal from you. The Bible says in Romans 5:1-5, "Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.". [New International Version]

This week I finished reading Ruta Sepetys' landmark young adult fiction based on fact entitled, Between Shades of Gray. It is a story told through the eyes of a 16 year-old daughter in an affluent family of four. Her younger brother, Jonas, and her two parents were Lithuanians during World War II when Stalin came to rape their country of all intelligentsia and influential people. Lawyers, judges, high commanders in the Lithuanian Armed Forces, academics, newspaper editors, and many millions of others from the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were quickly deported from a life of happy luxury into a hellish life of starvation, sudden deaths, and a social standing equal to thieves, street women, and beggars.

I read with greatest interest the character traits of those who survived the Siberian gulags. One-third of Lithuania's population alone never returned from Stalin's mass kidnapping and political cleansings. None of this was ever reported to the news media at the time because Russia was our "ally" in crushing Hitler and Mussolini. Even now, Ruta says the survivors are fearful to speak of those dark days when entire families would disappear in the middle of the night and Stalin's tanks rolled into their villages and towns.

So what of the character traits? There was pride in knowing love for your country could never be taken from you. There was love amongst family members who were, by sheer chance, not separated during deportation. Of course, the men were segregated from the women and children first, and most of them dumped into the worst conditions prior to their eventual deaths. The women devised intricate means to get written news to their husbands to see if they were still alive. Family was very important. Young love was even found in the backdrop of bleak circumstances and this kept some persevering.

Although God was not mentioned in Ruta's book unfortunately, it is a subtle underlining to the entire epic tale. Without Christ where would we be? If a ruthless super power took over our country and we were forced into the worst living conditions imaginable, would we persevere? Would we see it as a means of building our character? Would we be able to hope in the midst of all despair because of God's promises and proven miracles?

These are some serious thoughts to ponder as we begin the Fall slide into an important election year, perhaps the most important one of our lives. Can we recapture some of the majesty and morality of our country's foundations or will we crumble and quake as Christians? I chose not to fall into the hands of any interloper on my rights as a believer. How about you?

Please leave a comment. I'd like to know what you think!

Blessings and Agape,
Linda B. Greer

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