July 1 Message From Rev. Bill: “WHY I STILL LOVE AMERICA”

In 1976 I was part of a group that was asked to create a medallion to celebrate the US Bicentennial. Don’t be too impressed – it was a Jr. High competition, and I didn’t win!             But it was exciting to be nominated, and exciting to work on the project. At the time I was full of 12-year-old patriotism and fervor – MY country was the BEST!!! 

            Over the years since then our country has had highs and lows – scandals, victories, successes, failures, wars, police actions, Nobel prizes, insider trading, racism, attacks from within and without. There are many things that have made me proud to be an American, and many things that have filled me with anger and shame.             

But this is still my home. Regardless of who is President or who sits in Congress, I am still an American. I love this country. Even when it fails, I still love it.             

I have seen this type of devotion also in church – whether our church fails or succeeds, I still hear people say, “This is my church.” When I was in Sopchoppy there was some financial trouble (not my fault – our treasurer had made some mistakes with designated funds!). During that time one of the ladies said, “This is my church. No matter who the pastor is, no matter what’s going on, this is my church and I’m going to stick with it!”             

I feel that way towards America – even though we have problems, I’m not giving up on my country. I’m going to do what I can to make it better.             

In the movie “Second-hand Lions” (great movie, by the way!), there is a scene where one of the characters is recounting a speech he often gives young men on “What Every Boy Needs to Know about Being a Man”. The main character, a young boy who finds himself living with his two uncles after his mother drops him off for the summer, is wondering if the stories his uncles are telling him are true. He doesn’t know whether to believe them or not.             

One uncle tells him, “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most: That people are basically good. That honor, courage, and virtue mean everything. That power and money…money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this: that love…TRUE love never dies. Remember that, boy — remember that. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not – a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.”             

Yes, America has its problems. But it’s worth believing in. That freedom and responsibility go together – the freedom to make your own choices, and the responsibility to make choices that are helpful not only to you but to others. That no person is above the law; we are all bound to the same social contracts, regardless of our wealth or position, for the good of all. That freedom of speech is vital to liberty, and that responsibility of speech is just as important.             

We celebrate America next week, and then we continue to celebrate the hope of America by how we live with honesty and integrity every day after that.             

Why do you love America?

– Rev. Bill

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