Fifty-one years ago next month President John F. Kennedy asked our country "And so, my fellow Americans - ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
I was in high school at the time and these words stirred my generation. Frank Schultz went off to the Peace Corps with many others certain that America was the "shining city on the hill" for other nations and peoples to follow. Times were perilous with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Since Wurtsmith Air Force Base at Oscoda was a Strategic Air Command base, we appreciated the B-52s on guard in the air at all times.
Americans felt very close to nuclear holocaust and the Cold War was intensifying.
But we had faith in ourselves and in our nation. America didn't apologize, America led the world. We had a genuine war hero in the White House who had fought in World War II and who had married a gorgeous, smart woman. We knew we had been victorious in two world wars and, by the Grace of God, we could, and would do it again if need be.
What a difference those days were from today.
We search for factual answers about Columbine and Connecticut. We no longer look to our faith in God for guidance, even though we proclaim ourselves to be "one nation, under God." We are not one nation because we celebrate diversity rather than unity all across our great land. We no longer use religious principles to help shape society but rather we are using societal norms to try to set aside the tenets upon which this nation was founded.
A few days from now we will give young children gifts of video games that extol violence and mayhem. At the same time we ponder how someone who has grown up in a society which secularizes religious values and teaches death and destruction for entertainment in children's formative years can murder helpless elementary teachers and pre-adolescent students.
We are appalled by the actions of our Congress voting themselves special perks. At the local level, the boards and commissions that are able, vote themselves perks also. The trouble with these senators and congressmen is they really do mirror their constituencies.
We look today at the image of America in the mirror and we don't much like what we see.
We are beset with so-called facts by reporters who state that readers may not know who "leaked" the story because the source needed to be anonymous as they were breaking the privacy rules of their employer. In other words, the sources quoted are breaking the rules they agreed to as a condition of their employment. Why should we believe someone who shows such little integrity? Is any of the reported story true?
I'm suggesting that this Christmas we take stock individually and together in what we want our country to be. Remember the good old U.S.A. is the sum of its parts and each of us is one of those parts.
Yes, I do want to put Christ back into Christmas because He puts values into families. Families are the backbone of strong communities. Shared values come from the home. Morality is taught at home and through example and not in the school system. The term "in loco parentis" means "in the place of parents." Most educators will tell you they don't take the place of parental values.
It's time for a change and the change I'm recommending is very hard. It's up to us as citizens and mothers and fathers and all of the other hats we wear to determine if we wish to have America be the "shining city on the hill" or not. We can do it. We're Americans, for Lord's sake.
If we don't like violence, don't give it for Christmas. If you are a Christian it is perfectly OK to wish someone a Merry Christmas because that is one of the nicest things you can say in your belief system. From any belief system wishing about peace and prosperity for other folks is very nice.
If we don't like what we are seeing in America let's each look to our own behavior going into the New Year "for as you sow, ye are like to reap."
I wish for you at this blessed time for Christians that the peace of God which passes all understanding be with you now and always. Merry Christmas!