Scranton: So What is America?
Many of my friends tell me they listen to one particular news show for 30 minutes a day or even once a week to avoid all the controversy that news has become. It does seem that news headlines and stories have wandered into the entertainment realm by design. Metrics for most social media apps measure views (3 seconds) which are completely different from actual engagement (longer than 3 seconds). We aren’t as patient nor able to set our attention span like we used to, and the world seems like it is going 100 miles an hour constantly.
All you read about this past month are calls for Critical Race Theory to be taught in schools (or not), and how America isn’t a free or fair country. So what do you tell kids who are growing up in a world that tells them, depending on their skin color, they are perpetual victims or systemically racist. Neither one do you have any control over! If children growing up in America truly believe this, then we have taken huge steps backwards in addressing the issues so many have fought to reform or overcome.
When teachers walk into class this Fall, each will be tasked with trying to wade through the social controversies that will have a huge impact on their view of the world. Most children, if not all, are getting a pretty good headstart on their perceptions of the culture around them using all of the social media apps that each has at their fingertips. Race and identity will forever be stamped into the minds of people who believe that every action taken for or against them has to do with their skin color or particular preferences.
Driving a wedge into the hearts and minds of the most impressionable and vulnerable in our culture is shameful. America isn’t perfect and never will be, never can be, but every single person that I work with or run into wherever I go just wants to do what’s best for themselves and for people around them. Sure, everyone has a preference for their own family and friends. We all appreciate the fact that community means we grow our family just a little bit bigger when we do things together or celebrate things as a fellowship of believers in common attitudes, interests, or goals.
America, from its beginning, has been about how to right injustices and allow people to live in freedom and make determinations about how each of us should live. With our decisions come consequences, which will be determining factors in our sense of purpose or level of happiness. Both can be skewed if we aren’t careful about our choices or how we perceive the world around us. Life, in totality, is way too good in America for us to destroy the foundations by insisting that we have betrayed the ideals. Ideals set us up to put our very best foot forward and step into our family, our community, and our world and say stop when something is wrong and support the things that are good.
America hasn’t perfected this yet but we sure do seem unafraid to try and be a country that lives up to the fair-minded ideals of treating people decently and working to make our lives, and the lives of others, a little bit better than the day before. That’s the approach I use with students that I have the privilege to teach and coach. I’m hoping that this past Independence Day has helped stir the debate that you might have going on about how you will make the place that you live a little better everyday.
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Jesus takes a vacation in Mark 6:30-34. Or at least he tries to. His vacations go like my vacations sometimes do. Everything that can goes wrong does.