America has, from the beginning, striven to be a place of tolerance, a wide, welcoming place open to all, but lately that ideal has shriveled into something that looks far more like evil than it does like love.
You see, tolerance, openness, freedom itself, can only thrive on a diet of love – the kind of love that demands nothing from the loved, the kind of love that propelled Christ through the awful day of his crucifixion:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13:4-8a)
Love suffers long and is kind – where is that quality in our breast-beating about “oppression” and our union “rights?” Where is our kindness to those who must suffer in order for us to have our way? We see long-suffering in our soldiers, but where else? We seem to have compassion only for far-distant, illusory groups that we feel deserve our pity (the illegal immigrants, the poor, the middle class, the blacks, the Tibetans, non-Muslim women), not for those actual fellow humans in our midst. Do we really want to give up our personal charities in favor of governmental ones?
Love does not envy – yet almost half of us reportedly want to redistribute wealth http://www.gallup.com/poll/147881/americans-divided-taxing-rich-redistribute-wealth.aspx. We indulge in hate toward the corporations http://www.cafepress.com/+anti-corporation+bumper-stickers that provide us with unimaginable prosperity, and that hate we claim as moral superiority http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/most-hated-companies.htm.
Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely – Occupy Anarchy – did you hear that? There is no love in what you are doing, no love for your fellow Americans – look what you are doing to their neighborhoods; no love for the poor – you accomplish nothing for them; no love for your country—you acknowledge wanting to destroy it, with no thought to the untold suffering that would create. You don’t even demonstrate any love for yourselves, living as you are in filth, dulling your brains with dope http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2011/11/08/10_quotes_that_tell_you_how_bad_the_occupy_wall_street_movement_has_gotten/page/2.
Love does not seek its own – yet watch the election politics – there’s as much smearing of feces in this presidential race as there is in Zucotti Park. Love is not provoked, yet listen to the nastiness. Love thinks no evil, yet note how quick we are to assume the worst http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2011-11-08/herman-cain-accusers/51129758/1. We have, instead of love of country, rejoicing in iniquity. We have, instead of rejoicing in truth, the dissemination of some of the worst lies possible.
Love bears, yet believes; endures, yet hopes. Love never fails. True – love doesn’t fail, not the pure, God-driven love that sees each person as God’s individual creation, someone to be valued and recognized, being in some way the very image of God.
Oh – right – America doesn’t “do” God anymore, our president has made that clear, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIVd7YT0oWA. Well, hmm, that could be a problem. You see, that love we’ve been discussing, if we could live that way, would solve nine-tenths of our domestic problems, sans government expenditures and interference. But here’s the catch – humans, apart from the grace of God, can’t pull that off. We are, on our own, only capable of loving narrowly – we love those who appeal to us, who please us. We love those to whom we are related, and that we don’t do well. We don’t, on our own, love widely. Only God – who epitomized wide love when He went to the cross for us – can help us love like He does and only that love will heal our national sins.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (I Corinthians 13:1-3)
Even if our government manages, by some miracle, to adopt perfect policies in all areas, no good can come of that unless each of us rethinks our place in this world. There aren’t enough laws, regulations, or taxes, in all of history or the future, to cure human society of what ails it, for what ails it is our refusal to learn to love as widely as God loves. No substitutes exist.