Tag Archives: Truth

Letter to America

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A letter to my homeland, on the occasion of her 246th birthday.

As extended family gathered to celebrate my grandpa’s 80th birthday, with stories and much laughter around the table, my aunt made some snarky comment. I don’t remember what she said, and it doesn’t really matter because of what came after: Grandma, then 83 and quiet, looked over at her daughter and with a demure smile said very softly, “Careful, Barbara Jean. I can still take you out behind the woodshed.” Everyone roared … and everybody believed she would!

On a very different occasion—far more private and far more serious—my dad verbally took me out behind the woodshed with no more words than his mom had used. (Ironically, as I think about it now, it was around his own 80th birthday.) I’d been complaining about the challenges of a drawn-out job search and had casually suggested he could pull some strings to get me a one-time teaching opportunity. He was quiet for a moment, then said, “Randy, you’ve got a pride problem.” The words were so unexpected and cut so deeply that it was months before I could consider honestly what truth they might hold. (They still hurt, and it’s still hard to search for the truth in them.)

Why do I start this letter to my homeland with these two stories? Because America, it’s about time someone took you out behind the woodshed. It’s about time someone told you the truth about yourself—the truth you’ve stopped seeing, stopped believing, stopped wanting to believe.

Politicians won’t tell you the truth. Their jobs depend more on being popular than truthful.

The media won’t tell you the truth. Their jobs depend more on being first, fantastic, or sensational than on being truthful.

Your opponents won’t tell you the truth. Their jobs depend on you not knowing the truth.

So who can you count on to tell you the truth? A friend. And a friend will speak the truth—even when the truth is hard—precisely because she is a friend.

There is an ancient proverb that says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” That is truth. But it doesn’t feel like it. No one likes to hear a friend say, “you messed up there,” or “you were wrong.” It doesn’t feel good. Sometimes it can even break the relationship. But sometimes the truth is so important that it’s worth risking that break. Sometimes it takes that hard truth and that risk to wake a friend to the painful reality they needed to hear.

And that is why I am writing you this letter: to speak the truth, as from a friend. For friend I am.

America, you are not living your best … not for yourself, and not for others. On all sides, voices clamor to preserve democracy and the “American way.” Yet many of those voices, on all sides, are using decidedly undemocratic means, behaving like children and bullies: children who pout and stomp their feet and throw a fit when they don’t get their way, bullies who rely on brute force to subdue any who would oppose them.

This is not the way of democracy, it is not living under the rule of law that has been the bedrock of that democracy, and the preservation of your life for two-and-a-half centuries.

America, you are better than this; it is time to show your better self. Grow up. Learn anew to disagree without division, the art of civil discourse. Learn again the laws and freedoms—and constraints—embedded in your constitution. Learn what it means to adapt centuries-old laws and language to 21st century society, what it is and can be and should be to live under the two jurisdictions of state and nation. Learn the strength and power of living not for yourself, but for others. For only when individuals and nations live for others will our own lives be truly preserved.

A nation divided against itself cannot stand. If the United States of America is to thrive, the states of America must be united against all enemies, foreign and domestic, without and within. Today, as we celebrate our independence, the greatest enemy is the enemy within.

Life Matters. Truth Matters.

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This past week, two separate and disparate events caused me to stop, think, and respond. One was the death of a black man at the hands (or, in this case, the knee) of a law enforcement officer. The other was pastor friend’s post disparaging some good translations of the Bible. As I reflect on these events and my responses, I feel a mixture of pain, indignation, and wonder.

Why these events? What is it that moved me to respond at all, and to respond the way I did to each? Because both are about things that matter. A lot. Top-of-the-food-chain sort of mattering: LIFE and TRUTH. We need to stand for—and speak for—what matters And life matters. Truth matters.

Yesterday I read the words of a black man who will only take a walk in his own neighborhood if he is with his 8-year-old daughter and their puppy … because they make him safe. I’ve talked with law enforcement officers who fear for their safety because of the actions—real or perceived—of a very small few of their own. I have a black friend who helps me understand why “#AllLivesMatter” so deeply wounds him—and so widely avoids the accountability our nation is in such desperate of. I have a white friend who expresses growing fear for law enforcement officers. These responses are real. These responses are legitimate.

But this isn’t about #BlackLivesMatter versus #BlueLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter … or even #UnbornLivesMatter or #OldLivesMatter. In truth, none of those lives matter until we can say with our whole hearts, #LifeMatters.

But life won’t matter until truth also matters. Why? Because if we reject truth—if we reject even the possibility of objective, unchanging truth—then we have no moral foundation on which to base our pleas for life to matter. Life can only matter if there is something outside us, something bigger than us, that declares “life matters.” If life stems only from some cosmic accident, some random collision, some freak happenstance in uncreated nature … then you and I and black men and white police officers and unborn babies and old, debilitated grandmothers … none of it matters. None of us matters.

But if truth matters…. If we can somehow wrap our heads around the idea of a Creator and Sustainer of Life who declares that #LifeMatters because human life was created in the very—and very good—image of that Creator … then, and only then, will life really matter.

Truth does matter. And that’s why I responded to my friend’s post about the Bible: because the Bible holds revealed truth from God, our Creator. And when untruth is written about the True Word of God, we need to speak up. My friend may have “just” posted about certain translations. He certainly didn’t intend to diminish the truth of God’s Word (I know that, because I know his character and his convictions, and have great respect for both). But his post was filled with statements that at best are misleading; the combination and result of them is factual error. And if we can’t speak truth about the True Word of God, then truth doesn’t matter. And if truth doesn’t matter, life will never matter. But…

#TruthMatters. #LifeMatters.