Seek Truth to Destroy Distrust

When my niece was a young teen, she phoned me from her summer camp, “Aunt Lynn, why do my parents not trust me? If they love me, they should trust me!”

I don’t recall what precipitated the call, but I answered, “Sweetheart, love is a gift, but not trust. Trust must be earned along with respect. If we lie, cheat, or dishonor someone, trust erodes, and it is up to us to ask forgiveness and repair the damage. So, no, trust is not a free ticket on the love train.”

Suspicion, doubt, and mistrust in our society have become a problem not just concerning government. Distrust of religion, journalism, and law are but a few areas that have put a rip in the heart of America. Even the average citizens often look at each other with a wary, questioning gaze.

Soon, after watching footage on the news, I remarked to an acquaintance, “How terrible is the war in Ukraine? It is so difficult to view such horror.”

“I don’t watch the news because I don’t trust what they say!” She declared.   My smarty-pants response was, “Then turn off the sound and just view the film.”

I was astonished that because she trusted no one in journalism, she was not informed about the devastation taking place in Ukraine. She chose to close her eyes to the bravery of the people, the humanitarian effort to aid others, and the evil regime creating problems for the world. 

Government, law, & religion

Distrust of government is a huge issue. What do we do when federal and local officials harm America?

  “Why didn’t you vote the other day?”  I recall asking another young friend. “Shoot, what good would it do? They are all bad!” He answered. 

My response was, “The only way to get rid of rotten representation is to vote them out of office.”

 When we view government decisions and leaders only through the lens of party affiliation and not for the betterment of America, the result causes mistrust and disrespect to multiply, especially in the eyes of our young citizens. Our duty to fortify America’s future is to use our precious right and vote.

For most religions, their purpose is to preach God’s word and save souls. How does the gospel’s message penetrate the heart when the congregation is full of cynical folks? How many “Godly” folks leave the church at noon, hop on social media, and spread vitriol-laden words by early afternoon? Perhaps it is not the church that is to blame for a decline in membership; maybe it’s the hypocrisy found in some congregants sitting in the pews.

Distrust in the law and law enforcement. My cousin and many friends are lawyers, and, boy, they are good folks. Yes, the law profession has some shady characters, as does government, businesses, and religions. Does that mean we don’t trust any who choose to protect and serve our nation under the law? Yet, when we get in trouble, who we gonna’ call… Ghostbusters? 

Read, watch, listen

When we question every aspect surrounding our lives, we begin to welcome the conspiracy theories, scoundrels, and untruths to walk through our doors. Cynicism rises, evil penetrates and permeates our environment, and we replace hope with fear.

A society that breeds doubt becomes a victim of decay.   However, we could individually help America and the world by simply choosing to be informed and active. 

Take the time to research which news outlets are the least biased. We need to use several sources to obtain fairness in journalism. Read, watch, and listen to a variety of information services. Truth is obtained through knowledge.

We must cast our ballots for whom we believe are the best candidates to lead the nation. Who would do the best job of unifying our country, defending our nation, and bringing honor to our land? Character matters, and the only way we can discern who is the best person, is to read, watch, and listen. 

It is our responsibility to always seek the absolute truth.

God gave us a soul and a brain to accompany our free will. But He also laid down mighty hefty rules. The Bible directs us, “Go, therefore, and teach all nations.”  We are to do so not just through words but also by our actions. When we don’t follow His rules, we literally lose souls.   He meant it when He asked us to do His will and love. Throw insincerity out the church window, and the pews will be filled. 

  Take the time to read, watch, and listen to find the truth. Let’s show the world that our ultimate trust in God gives us the power to change, love, and mend the tear in the heart of America.  

For the Good of Others

It was a sun-drenched day Saturday as the end of winter blew away, and spring began to show its magic.  A day when Little League baseball was in full swing, and parents cheered their children to victory or comforted them in defeat.

Golf courses and tennis courts were packed, and basketball’s March Madness increased competition and fans’ shouts to a high pitch.  Young parents pushed babies leisurely in strollers down neighborhood streets as joggers raced by.

Tulips, buttercups, and budding tree branches completed nature’s goodbye to winter in the Southland.  However, for me, it all seemed a bit unnatural.   Spring usually gives me a boost and typically reminds me of rebirth, rejuvenation, and hope.  But this Saturday, this first moment of a beautiful season, is not the same, nor perhaps, should it be.

As I watched my grandson run the bases and cheered him to a win, I couldn’t help but think about another five-year-old in Ukraine sloshing through snow and cold to escape the horror of war.  Many children hide in darkness while bombs rain down from a gray sky.  Their homes are gone, play is over, and the joy of spring is just a memory.  Along with their parents, some children will never witness another sunny day.  

Abundant gratefulness

  I can’t imagine or understand that type of misery and heartache.  The human price of war is catastrophic and barbaric.  However, when a fight is unprovoked and civilians become targets,  such heinous crimes increase the battle price to another despicable level.  Such actions should raise our compassion, abundant gratefulness, and humility to a higher level of excellence.

Today if we are lucky enough to go to a restaurant with a group of friends, maybe we shouldn’t complain if the food is not to our liking or the wait time is too long.  Instead, pause and ponder those who waited for days attempting to obtain bread or water.   We should be grateful for the simple joy of having friends and food.  

If we take a stroll in the bright sunshine on any given day, let’s look up to the sky and be grateful no bombs are forcing us to run.   Or, if we are watching a child run the bases at the ball field, be ecstatic that we are listening to the sounds of a loved one play. 

When we witness the glory of spring unfold here, reflect on those who ache to see unscorched earth and a yard of their own.

What we should toss

This spring, we should toss whining, fussing, and ingratitude with the dead plants of winter.  We can be and should be better, wiser, and abundantly determined to rise above our petty discords and anointed self-importance.  

Today, 10 million innocent Ukrainians are displaced because a dictator wanted more.   As a member of humanity, we cannot ignore their plight nor be unappreciative for anything we own, enjoy, or see that is free from torment and terror.

When I think about our past foolishness over mask-wearing, disputes over our individual rights, our battles with our leaders, and our vicious attacks on social media, I want to hide in shame.  How ridiculous compared to the fight we watch from afar for a country’s right to be free, live in a democracy, and survive.

During the last few years, Americans have often reduced every aspect and event in our lives to politics.  A deadly illness became political along with everything involved with it.  We began to choose friends or dismiss friendships over political differences.  People searched endlessly for news channels, newspapers, and magazines that sided with their political preferences to confirm their own beliefs.  Conspiracies grew along with animosity and damaging division.  The far-right and far-left threw our common bonds into trash cans everywhere. 

The best use of freedom

 In a way, that’s what independence can produce, but is it the best use of our freedom? 

Let us increase our American spirit with less complaining and bickering.  Instead, for today, choose compassion over competing theories.  Choose respect over dishonor.  Show dictators that a nation’s unity is what provides courage to win wars and triumph over their reign of evil.

We are free to choose love for others.  Free to be thankful for each other and praise God for our abundance.  Free to give others the finest of who we are and offer hope.  Our best use of our freedom is to prioritize and agree to help keep others free from oppression, free from iniquity, and free to enjoy life on a sun-drenched spring day.

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

 1 Corinthians 10:24

One Lone Man

“I never thought I would view such horror in the year 2022!” How often have you heard those words since the Russian invasion began in Ukraine?  

Indeed, we assumed that we had evolved above tyranny, evil, and barbaric dictators as a society.  We also thought there could never be another Adolph Hitler or Stalin.  Leaders of nations today would undoubtedly fear repeating the destruction of World War II and any threat of nuclear warfare.  Certainly, humankind has learned its lessons from history.

Yet, one lone man rose from the bowels of immorality, unchecked and unleashed, to render havoc and instill terror into the world.  How did that happen? 

Is it, in part, due to us wearing blinders?  When we become comfortable and complacent, something will usually shake us up.  We are reminded that we might not be as safe as we thought, as invincible and that our corner of the world is not all that matters.  We watch the atrocity of babies dying and parents fleeing their bomb-torn Ukrainian villages.  Thus, we realize the comfort of life can disappear within days due to the actions of one lone man.

A man who has lost compassion, love, humility and has sold his soul for power.  Hatred holds court, and lies fill the air where he roams.  His nation is his and his alone, and he shows no remorse for forcing his citizens into isolation and uncertainty.  He is the revival of the tyrant, and he is Vladimir Putin.

Revival of tryranny

I am bothered by those Americans and others who hail his name and extol his authority, and I pray they are a minuscule percentage of folks because praising a dictator slaps freedom in the face.  These individuals kick the graves of all the fallen soldiers who died on battlefields to keep us from falling prey to monsters.  There is no excuse for favoring someone who is so blatantly heinous.

Party politics should never be played in this game.  It is the one issue we should all agree upon.  If we cherish American democracy, we must be on the side of liberty for all people and a renewed determination to keep it that way.  We cannot sit in our lounge chairs, kick back, put on our blinders, and not be affected by what goes on elsewhere.  Who knows when a despot might arrive on our shore and attempt to sabotage our corner of the world.  

Turning blind eyes to evil and those who perpetrate it fuels the tyrant.  Sometimes our bravery is just absolutely required.  Courage to speak up, denounce those who spew hatred, and stop the madness of dissent. 

Extremism is increasing, and a threat will rise from these extreme corners.  I believe folks drawn to hostility are those who have been hurt and harmed at some point in life, and they search for a place that accepts their ire.

Common sense or truth is lost on them, and there are no words to change their minds.  Anger rules, animosity reigns, and wickedness will grow.   They twist facts into lies, turn God’s words to ashes, and swear they do so to save us all.  We must open our eyes to their malevolence  … now.   

Demise of Democracy

Democracy can fall to dictatorship, as proven by history.  There are many reasons, including a new crisis or economic failure, but three stand out as warning signs.

 Political polarization is one main contributor.  When competing political sides no longer want to cooperate with one another, they open the doors to allow violent or extremist groups to take over politics instead.*  

Democracy fails when a nation’s elites decide democracy no longer works for them.  When these elites feel that losing an election may mean forfeiting their power and influence over a country, they may seek to take over the nation by force.*

Apathetic citizens are another reason we will lose our freedom.  When we believe our vote no longer counts, our words do not matter, and we are not brave enough to stand firm, we invite tyranny home.

Hitler was one lone man who manipulated many, including educated intellectuals, into submission and cowardness.  Such monstrosities should never be repeated.   If the American majority believes in love, giving, compassion, and hope, we must be bold enough to open our eyes and close our doors to those who have no concept of freedom, faith, and fairness.  

Christ was one lone man whose gentle words influenced our world, changed our hearts, and was brave enough to die for us.   He condemned hatred, detested bigotry, despised hypocrisy, and preached kindness.

One lone person can create a hell on earth or bring heaven to our world. 

Which lone man would you ask to enter your home?

* Study by Alec Medine for Renew Democracy Initiative

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Love: The Word in the Shadows

She stood on the cold tile floor of the train station surrounded by luggage that appeared taller than her actual height.  She held a sign just below her soft brown eyes as she looked up to the photographer who captured her.   The sign read, “Poland, best frind!” She may not know how to spell ‘friend,’ but this Ukrainian child understands more about evil oppression than most of us will ever comprehend.

My friends’ parents and in-laws were at the train station in Poland when they noticed the little girl.  They witnessed tears as if they seemed to fall in slow motion on the faces of countless refugees.  When the weary travelers stepped off crowded trains, Poland’s compassionate citizens greeted them with their own signs.  “We can take a mother and three children.” Or, “We have room for a family of four.” Humanity united to form a chain of love, goodness, and mercy to give complete strangers relief.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian fathers and husbands are in their homeland trying to fend off the opposite of good, the attacker, Vladimir Putin.  These Ukrainian men understand courage, dignity, and sacrifice are required to combat evil.  They may lose the battle, but they will be victorious in the end.

Watch and learn

I watch the news several times a day to see a war rage in a world I know little about.  My friends ask,  “Lynn, how can you watch such horror as much as you do?  It’s depressing.”  

“I feel we must watch because it is how we learn what depravity is and when we ignore it, how fast it will grow.  At the very least, we can be courageous enough to cry with the victims of such corruption and pray earnestly for them.”

   Our comfortability is a non-issue compared to the plight of the citizens of Ukraine.  America’s political and social division does not resemble the potential loss of freedom and the countless lives lost due to tyranny. 

If we learn nothing else from witnessing these March days, we must understand we are blessed to be here in this place called America.  Yes, evil does roam here, but we, so far, have not let it consume us.   And it never will if we do not lose our souls, our hearts, and be a “frind” to those who need us.

Frankly, these last few years, after witnessing pals become enemies over political differences, folks battle over a lethal disease, and rising violence, I thought God might just walk away and leave us to fend for ourselves.  I guess that is why I write so much about human kindness and how love can save us.

Sounding Cymbal

“Love.”  The word that is often placed in the shadows as namby-pamby, too sensitive, not reality, and blah, blah.  Anger fueled by hatred creates louder words,  instilling fear and division.  Those who espouse such emotions often obtain fame and rake in angry supporters’ money to gain power.

Presumed intellectuals opine over every facet of our lives but speak little about love, harmony, and understanding.  Are they incapable of such deep thought?

Bullying, rudeness, lack of decorum,  and loss of civility have reached epic proportions spread by social media, political leaders, and talking heads in the last few years.  And, folks, no matter how one tries to twist such behavior into a cause or for a greater good, it will never work.  

Love is power

What is more powerful than hate?  What did the leader of all humankind mean when he demanded, “love one another?”  Babies die without love, and so does our spirit.   Love is the most potent weapon we embody to prevent the annihilation of humanity.  If we have no love for others or God, we are nothing but that old-sounding cymbal.

A person without love shows no compassion.  Their hearts are hardened to suffering and pain, and their souls are lost.  Those filled with loathing cannot hear God because their loud voices drown His whispers.  These evildoers choose not to respectfully speak of goodness because power is more important.  And when their influence continues to thrive unchecked, a Hitler or Putin rises to destroy.    

A dictator may win a war through hatred but will always be despised in the end.  May we understand our behavior is measured each day.  How we love counts.

Do you know what matters most in our world?  Our love for God and love for our family and “frinds.”  Love: the word in the shadows that must become the light.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.” 

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

The Day the Sky turned Gray

The rain is steadily falling through a sky of gray.   It seems apropos today as a world away in Ukraine, their citizens are gazing at skies filled with smoke.    A desk lamp dispels the darkness in my office, and the hum of electricity breaks the silence.  However, I know others in the world are huddled in the dark, cloaked in fear.  My grandchildren play in their heated rooms, relishing a Sunday with their parents and playing games.  Yet, Ukrainian children are fleeing their homes, tearfully waving goodbye to their fathers while clutching their mother’s hand as she attempts to reach safety.

I was a World War II baby.  When I was small, my parents would occasionally take me to see a movie.  Mother said my fear of evil began in the darkness of those theaters.   I don’t know how old I was, but before the film started, newsreels would run, showing the audience visions of war and genocide. 

When my young eyes viewed the grainy black and white images of Adolph Hitler’s carnage and the horrors of concentration camps, my nightmares began by the dozens.  For years, when I heard a siren, panic set in, and tears flowed.  Mother was horrified that because they took me to enjoy a movie, I would be forever terrified that Hitler would rise again one day.

Tryants and war

Tyrants rise because of their lies and insatiable thirst for power.   They divide and conquer the souls of their people and create anguish and hostility wherever they roam.  These cruel oppressors are recorded in our history books and in the Bible as insane, narcissistic, egomaniacs intent on destruction.  

Good versus evil is at the heart of any war, and it always has been.  Those who seek to control and conquer, love to confuse, enjoy the battle, and cause ethnic division are the same nightmare evil autocrats of old.

To avoid such evildoing should always be our primary motivation as a country.  For several years we have battled each other over everything from mandates, elections, liberalism, conservatism, welfare, bigotry, and good Lord, have we blamed everything on everyone.  We are a nation filled with free individuals who often behave like spoiled brats because we have no idea what it feels like to live in a country without the freedom to be bratty… until today.

Character of a unified nation

Today, we can turn on our televisions and witness the cost of freedom, the fear of dictatorship, and the price folks are willing to pay to keep their sacred rights.  We understand the definition of unification and its importance when it is time to fight for independence.  Our infighting suddenly pales in the face of the Ukrainian battle to remain sovereign.

The character of a nation matters and must be reflected in its citizens and leaders.  We cannot, nor should we ever, condone racism because it breeds fascism and tyranny.  We must never idolize leaders but hold each of them accountable to keep the sanctity and character that reflects the good citizens of our nation.   If we do not, dictators will rise from the ashes of an apathetic public. 

I do not know what tomorrow will hold for Ukraine, but I applaud the spirit of their nation to combat depravity.   The bravery of the Ukrainian men and women teaches the world the value of liberty and what people can achieve when they bind their hands together to save their lives and their land. 

A teachable moment

Six-year-old Jaxon was sitting on the sofa with me, playing a video game.  The attack on Ukraine had just begun, so I was watching the breaking news. 

“Grandma, what’s happening?”  I decided it could be a teaching moment. As Vladimir Putin’s face sneered across the screen, I replied, pointing at the television, “Jax, you see that man?” He is the head of another country far away, and he is an evil man.” 

“Why is he bad?” Jax replied.

“Well, son, there will always be bad men and women who want to control people. However, the trick is to recognize who they are and stop them before they become supervillains.”

“Like the Joker?” Jax’s eyes grew bigger.

“Yep, and we all have to put on our Batman capes to fight them because good must always triumph over evil.”

 He nodded in agreement and went on to play his video games beside his Grandma in a warm place called home.

A tear rolled down my cheek when I realized there would be children who will forever have nightmares about the day when the sirens roared as evil began to stroll down their streets, the skies turned gray, and their home was no more.