Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

Divided allegiance

Posted: February 24, 2012 in Random

This month has been highly political.  We’ve had all the Presidential nomination activity.  President’s Day places our historical leaders front and center in our minds.  It had me really thinking about things as I look at raising a family and where we are at and possibly headed.

Much of this stems back to my family’s background.  My parents were both born and raised into early adulthood in Poland.  They came over with their parents when they were in high school and met here, in America.  One came from the city and one had been raised on a farm in the country.  Both had difficult lives growing up in a Communist Bloc country and the lack of freedom’s that provides.  Their parents felt this country was a better place to make their lives than Poland was and so they made the difficult journey by boat overseas and had the proverbial immigrant experience of having little or no money, not speaking the language and building a life in a foreign land. 

Growing up for them quickly became about raising a family as I was born when they were very young.  My dad worked hard in a factory job moving up over the year’s until he was in management.  It was a great example of what makes this country a wonderful place to me.  His previous station in Poland had nothing to do with what he could accomplish here.  He learned English and though he still talks with an accent to this day, he functions perfectly well in American culture.  My grandparents learned enough English to maintain jobs but really were more comfortable speaking Polish.  One of the most impactful things I recall from my childhood was how my maternal grandmother used her time and energy after my grandfather passed away when I was twelve to become a way for other immigrants who wanted to make the journey to America to make the transition.  She would open her home and help them get on their feet and did this not just with distant relatives, but with strangers who were friends of friends in some cases.  She worked hard to get them to see the benefit of this country and how they could succeed here.  They would live with her for a year or two, women, men, she really worked with anyone and then they would move out on their own.  I know she kept in touch with them, but in most cases I do not recall seeing them again.  She kept this up until Poland moved out from under Soviet domination when the emigration process out of Poland became much easier.

As I grew up my first language was Polish and I learned English mainly in the school system.  I was born here, so a citizen, but I had some of the immigrant experience entering school with English being my second language.  This background and experiences helped me develop a very deep appreciation and understanding of what America really is and can be.  I have a love for this country that seems to be rarer as the years go by.  It provided an opportunity for my parents to make a life that I was able to grow from and can do the same for my kids.  I grew up with enough stories of what things were like in Poland to appreciate the unique advantages a free country has.  It made me more accepting of people from other cultures and backgrounds and to never take for granted what we have.

When I was younger, the pride in America was everywhere.  You could feel it, see it, smell it.  I understand the excuses that we had common enemies with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the Japenese for economic domination in the 80s and so forth.  Recently though it has become OK to become self-centered and inward focused.  It’s rare to see neighbors doing for neighbors and for communities to have more than a small turnout for Independence Day gatherings.  Days that used to be focused on celebrating America such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day have just turned into days off from school and a way to spend another day camping.  Groups argue about accepting other languages and creating more divisions.  Our political leaders cannot even have adult discourse any longer.  It was less than a hundred years ago that Theodore Roosevelt had a lot of influence over the attitudes of the American people, but his thoughts hold a lot of value.  The quote attached to this post is not one verbatim quote, it is pieced together from various letters he wrote near the end of his life, but the consistency of the message is clear.  Divided allegiance is damaging.  Our world is challenging and it can take a huge amount of effort to get things done.  If you are not sure which master you are serving, it just wastes efforts.  This is the message my kids get time and again.

It is good to discuss and debate ideas to help the group get to the best choice.  It is not good to just hate someone, like our President, because we disagree.  As American’s we owe allegiance to the office and to the person in it.  Our children pledge allegiance every morning to the flag and “to the republic for which is stands”.  So why as adults in this country are we doing such a terrible job of doing that?  We grumble about the country and instead of drawing together to fix it we sit in our corners and stay divided.  Abraham Lincoln famously said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” and this is so appropriate in our times now.  We face outside challenges for other nations who seek to do us harm.  Let’s focus on making ourselves able to address those and improve our situation and not disagree for the sake of it as our current leadership is modeling.  Just as management in a company can infect a company culture, so too is the tone at the top of this country pervading into the American people and causing more dissent and squabbling amongst the people.  Frivolous lawsuits are at an all time high.  We let “freedom” dictate too much at times.  We also have the freedom to enforce rules that punish people for wasting the time of the citizenry.  But we all are so worried about being “PC” that we don’t make Occupy Wall Street people accountable for the waste of public resources after their point was made but they chose to turn a political sit-in into a taxpayer funded party.  We let people sue companies rather than acknowledge their own stupidity.  If you put a hot cup of coffee between your legs in a moving vehicle and it pops open how is that McDonald’s problem?  If you poke a hole in your tongue and wear “jewelry” in it and it causes you to get sick, how is that anyone’s issue?  American people have a harder time day by day taking responsibility.  It is always someone else’s fault and our kids are learning these lessons.  It has to stop.  We are responsible for our own actions and the results of them.  Demand punishment for things that truly are exceptions not simply scapegoats.  It is another form of divided allegiance for our own personal responsibility.  The court time that is wasted in domestic court for example on stupid issues for divorce court where people are allowed to file just because is amazing.  The process should include a penalty if the judge determines you are filing a complaint without real merit.  Waste the court’s time and you pay an additional $5,000.  Just see how many requests dry up if the only time you don’t get slapped with that after your initial settlement is if something substantial happens.

Finally, the continued message of a secular society that makes everything OK and challenges God’s rules and understanding.  I’m not advocating public beatings in the square for adulterers but I’d challenge anyone to have an intelligent conversation with me to prove that allowing this behavior without comment is not damaging to people and society.  Churches pander to their audience.  Very few say, “this is what God said, understand it, and if you don’t like it, suck it up”.  We can’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  Really!?  What good does that do?  Did God worry about hurting the Egyptians feelings?  What’s right is right.  We should not need to apologize for it.  I will spend the rest of my life teaching my kids to be comfortable to stand up for what’s right because others will make them feel guilty about it.  When you divide your allegiance between God and wordly temptations you face this struggle.  The influences only increase in our divided America.  Slander and call people names because they think differently.  Label movies unfairly as being anti-Christian because you want to twist the Word of God to serve your needs.  Within those who believe in God we grow more divided.  New beliefs rise up to cater to people and make religion “easy”.  Scientology, the Emergent Church, Vineyards, to name just a few.  It takes an enormous amount of effort to avoid the shiny objects and feel-good doctrines that are preached and all the while that energy is not used to fix our country and our society. 

So the best thing I have found to do is to follow the KISS principle, or Keep It Simple (insert descriptor of your choice here).  Teach my kids to believe in God and have Him help them make decisions and see through the fog of life.  Help others make our society better through solid churches and other groupings with like minded people.  I would like to be assured that my kids will have a better life than I did, but with our situation right now, I really fear that will not be the case.  We seem to find an inordinate amount of ways as humans to mess up even the most basic of things.  It’s that tug of war between leaving it up to God and wanting to take all control away from Him if we can.  I continue to pray we will find our way as a nation and regain that sense of pride that I grew up with and still carry in my heart every day.  We can succeed as a nation and a world in spite of our human failings but only if we pull together rather than pulling apart.