Thursday, July 4, 2013

What Independence Day Means to Me

Not just a day to picnic or play at the beach, today is the day to remember the great men and women who made it possible for us to live in a free country. Were they perfect? No, but they were far better than we credit them for today. That's a different topic for a different day though. It's also a day to remember the blessings we all have the opportunity to enjoy.

There are many countries in the world today where people live in fear of bombing attacks, famine, or natural disasters, all while struggling to make a living for them and their families. Their lives are in constant turmoil due to political unrest, the greed of their countrie's leaders, and restrictions placed upon them by their government. We in America have the privilege to go to school, succeed or fail, speak freely, and live in relative ease compared to most people in the world. Before you start throwing numbers at me telling me how awful this country is to our poor, let me remind you that our "poor" are far richer than even our neighbors to the south of us who live in cardboard and tin shacks with no plumbing. Plus, if you did some research you would find that the number of truly poor people in the US are by far fewer than the government tells us.

Let's think about this on a daily routine basis. You get up, head toward the kitchen and perhaps plug in your coffee maker. You open the cupboard and have a choice on what you might want for breakfast. Or you head to the fridge and do the same. After breakfast you might put your dishes in the dishwasher before heading off to a shower with hot and cold running water. In the bedroom you open the closet where there are multiple articles of clothing to choose from and since today is your day off you pick out something casual and comfy. Today you are going to a movie with friends, or to that intriguing antique mall you drove by the other day. Right now though, your favorite radio station is offering a hundred dollars if you can call in with the answer to their quiz question.

Now lets look at someone who is truly in poverty, someone in a tin shack on the outskirts of a town say in Mexico. They get up and the first thing they have to do is take the bucket to the town well and get some water for drinking and washing. A fire has to be built to cook with, if they are lucky enough to have food. After a meager breakfast he has to decide where to go to find work so he can have money to buy food. His wife stays with the little ones, sweeping her dirt floor and sewing patches on the holes in their one set of clothing to make them last a little bit longer. He is gone for 16 hours and comes home with a handful of masa and a bone that can be simmered to get some broth and perhaps a tiny bit of meat.

In thinking about what we have, it occurred to me that even in the worst of disasters most people in our country can bounce back because we have insurance, and a government willing to step in and help, among some great church and civic organizations. Other countries aren't so lucky.

I believe that our country has been blessed by God, and will continue to be so if we do our part in showing gratitude for the blessings we truly have here. Gratitude is shown by how we treat others, by the way we care for what we have, and share what we have. Gratitude is shown in our willingness to get down on our knees and thank Him for what we do have, and then getting off our knees and making life better for someone else. We show our gratitude by working hard, and teaching, yes expecting others to work if they can. That we have the freedom to work and play is such a gift! So today, would you please take a moment and talk to your children, grandchildren and loved ones about what the US means to you?

May we all have a safe and Happy Independence Day.

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