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Monday, December 16, 2013

What I Love about America

Of all the places you call “God’s country, which is your favorite. (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1364).

America at its best takes on the simplicity of the Quakers. That is, informality and equality implement no less than kindness. And kindness does not mean we never disagree, it means that we just disagree honestly for we love each other enough to speak the truth. And we don’t think this is remarkable, we think is the most practical way, the most realistic way, and the way most filled with common sense.

Many, many things flow from our central belief in the sacredness of individual conscience—a spirit of equality, humility and kindness flow from it. Nevertheless, while we understand the importance of conscience, we also understand its limitations. For our conscience sometimes does not alert us to injustice, cruelty, and selfish pride. Our conscience is formed from individual experience, selfish ambition, and the divine light. But sometimes our experience leads us the wrong way and sometimes God seems silent. We characteristically aren’t aware of this at the time, only afterwards when the damage is done.

We ask the world to forgive us for our blindness, and to love us (yes, we want to be loved) despite our imperfections. If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that the “Ugly American Syndrome” which sometimes seems so predominate in our national affairs is not delimited by national borders but by the human frame.

We want to move on. America can sometimes seem so wasteful; buildings which seem rather new are torn down to make way for the future. In my town a Publix supermarket will soon bite the dust for the construction of a new one on the same site. The present building looks rather nice, but Publix where “Shopping Is a Pleasure” wants to make certain there is never any question about it.

The pursuit of excellence is born of pay back in the end. Little acts of kindness done reflexively have very long trajectories and reap abundance. This is more than faith; we have experienced it, we have seen it happen, we have seen the ascendency of kindness over meanness—it started with the Constitution and the spirit is alive today in a thousand ways—but the reality is that there are those left behind—in the American family, in the Human family. God grant us thankfulness but NEVER contentment—may the stern eye of the American Eagle never flinch at simple facts, no matter how unpleasant, no matter how convicting.

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