President Reagan once said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. [Reagan, “Inaugural Address: January 5, 1967″, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum]. I came to maturity in the late 60’s and early/mid 70’s. During that time frame much of my generation dropped the ball. We lost confidence in government with Vietnam, made idols out of the likes of Madonna, and gave away our time to learn and contribute to society to video games, while tuning out with ‘Mary Jane’. For a long time American values were in a downward spiral. But things may be happening with postmillennials. Teenagers are beginning to experience a rebirth of American pride. Young men and women are serving the nation without a draft to compel them into military service. Yes, we do have many who are growing up in a state of confusion, families without leadership, violence for entertainment, greed within the nation’s leadership, and a lack of appreciation for life. No wonder we have such trying times in our society. It seems as though every idea, good or bad, is worthy of condemnation and we can no longer hold conversation or debate without fear of offending someone. Fortunately we have young Americans who have seen the fallacy of these times and these are the folks our nation will need to come to rely on to save our hard earned freedom. It will be up to responsible parents and Christian churches/organizations to teach and encourage these future leaders of America. We are reaching that time frame in the life of a democratic republic where failure could mean the total demise of the greatest ‘experiment’ in the history of free societies.
But enough on what’s going wrong. Here’s a few stories on what is going right in the world of youth today. There are those who do appreciate this nation and the sacrifices and opportunities it represents. Jacob Feazel of Bunker Hill, Indiana, is one of our new kind of American patriot. The seventeen year old created a stirring piece of artwork that celebrated our nation. The artwork depicts an American flag made from more than forty-four hundred toy soldiers. [Phil Sanchez,”Teen Makes Soldiers a Part of the Flag They Fight For”, LIN Television Corporation, February 19, 2016]. The Kokomo Tribune reported it took the teenager more than fifty-six hours of work over eleven days to create the masterpiece. [“Maconaquah High School Student’s Art Goes Viral”, Kokomo Tribune, February 19,2016]. There was something this young man told the local newspaper…”I did it to honor those who fight so I can make art”. [Ibid]. He understands that freedom is never free. A price must be paid to ensure our freedom and we should honor that sacrifice. Can we rely on our schools to teach that honor? I believe that ‘honor lessons’ begin in the home and the church and with the current state of families in the United States that puts the bulk of the burden on the church.
Then there are those students who profess freedom of speech but have no clue as to what the source of that freedom is. Many of the folks and students in Richland Township, Pennsylvania, understand that sacrifice and that is why the local high school launched an investigation after a photograph surfaced of a student desecrating an American flag inside a classroom by standing on it while a female stands nearby with her middle finger raised. With today’s social media one might expect the comments to start being posted…and they were. One comment…”a shameful display of ignorance, contempt, and utter disregard for the country, flag, and veteran’s sacrifice”. [Todd Starnes,”Teen’s Flag-Stomp Stunt at HS Spurs Investigation”, FoxNews.com, February 16, 2016]. Another comment…”What a disgrace! Maybe they should be put on the front lines, so they can get a taste of reality”. [Ibid]. A Richland HS grad who is currently serving in the military had this to say,”This behavior is repulsive. To make matters worse, Richland Township is home to many armed forces units that also defend that flag.” Years ago when the draft inductions were terminated folks wondered if the upcoming generation would answer the call to duty. Wonderfully they did! With all the bad press, today’s generation is willing to answer the call to duty.
Unlike some of the educators in California the Richland School District Superintendent Arnold Nadonley took a stand against those who chose to dishonor the flag. He stated,”This photo is not representative of the feelings of 1,600 students in our district. Out of respect for our veterans…both those who have defended the flag and those still serving in our military…nobody wants to see something like this.” [David Hurst,”Photo of Teen Standing on American Flag Prompts School, Police Inquiry”, North Jefferson News, February 15, 2016]. The district promised that it would launch “a timely and thorough review of this incident…and implement appropriate legal discipline”. The photo was called “unfortunate and unpatriotic”. [School District in Johnstown Promises ‘Through Review’ of Unpatriotic Photo”, Cox Media Group, February 14, 2016]. The student involved was not identified. His mother released a statement through the ACLU to apologize. [Jillian Hartmann,”Family Reacts to Picture of Boy Standing on Flag”, Sinclair Broadcast Group, February 15, 2016]. This is good to see in the day and age when some parents believe their children are incapable of wrongdoing. Of course I cannot let this go without some commentary. One, why is Mom writing this letter and not the boy? Two, what about the girl who joined in the photo showing her ‘single digit’? Maybe she was just displaying her ‘IQ’. Of course the ACLU had to join in the commentary. They didn’t think there was a problem with desecrating ‘Old Glory’. “As long as they were trying to send a message of protest, it sounds like they are protected to me” so saith their legal director. [Hurst, “Photo of Teen Standing on American Flag Prompts School, Police Inquiry”]. It is so pleasant to see a school administrator stand up to the ACLU. Maybe there is hope. I suspect that if the students were asked what message they were trying to send they wouldn’t have a clue. Whatever it was, they surely got a timely response.
Next we will look at the story of a young college freshman who had to make a tough decision. Connor Brewer is fiercely loyal to his college football team. He is also fiercely loyal to the United States of America. When the Millikin University football team decided to protest the national anthem by remaining inside the locker room instead of on the sidelines, Connor had to make a decision. Would he hide in the university-approved ‘safe space’ or stand on the sidelines and honor America. Instead of standing along the sidelines and showing a little respect for the United States, the team chose to hunker down in the locker room. University president Patrick White offered up a pile of academic ‘gobbledygook’ to try to defend the team from the indefensible. Connor chose to stand alone. Writer Todd Starnes was inundated by hundreds of messages from around the country affirming Connor’s stand. One particularly poignant letter stood out. It was from a ‘Gold Star’ mother, Debi Daniels. She wrote that reading the story about Connor broke her heart. She felt so sad about the loneliness he had to endure that night before the game. [Debi Daniels in communication with Todd Starnes, October 2016]. You see, her son Nickolas was on the school’s football team back in 2004. In 2010 he enlisted in the Marines. The following year he was killed in Afghanistan. [Ibid]. The locker room protest hit home for her. There’s a reason we stand for the national anthem and we place our hands over our hearts and pledge allegiance to the flag. It’s to honor the men and women who have given so much that we might be free…freedom comes with a price. There are ways to protest without disrespecting the flag that represents so much more than a much bloated, unjust bureaucracy. As Christians we too must sometimes take a stand. To be silent in the face of sin and/or injustice is just as much a sinful failure in ‘my book’ as blatantly violating God’s Word. Unfortunately we are seeing it all too much in today’s world.
While I could continue for weeks with stories of our young people taking a stand for right, I am compelled to move on to a subject that really got this series going in the first place…a pastor’s comment that politics doesn’t belong in the church. Needless to say I disagreed to the tune of a weekly commentary for nearly three years. In my study and collecting of data I find myself ready to move on to the next sub-section of “Politics and the Church”. I will call this sub-section “The Politics of God”. As Christians we were not placed here on earth to watch and endure the actions of ‘godless, secular’ governments and then say or do nothing. Jesus set in place a perfect example for all of us. It is up to us to follow that example. I look forward to this next phase. I hope you will too.
– Bob Munsey