Archive for February, 2016

224 – “Promises, promises…”

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

By Hetty Gray

# 224

February 23, 2016

“Promises, promises…”

Promise: we all know the term. Perhaps at no other time do we hear it incessantly than during an election. Yet, the word boasts a much deeper history.

Defined, it can be either a noun or a verb. As a noun, we recognize the meaning as a vow, a pledge or an assurance. As a verb, it shares the vow and pledge with its noun form, but adds this: to make somebody expect something. Now, isn’t that a perfect definition when applied to politics?

Going back hundreds of years, we point to the promise of a new nation. Yes, begun by our Founding Fathers. (I hope this irks the feminist crowd moving for terms like “foreperson” of a jury. Those gender-neutral terms go on ad nauseum and — quite frankly — insult a person’s intelligence.)

From its inception, the United States promised a brighter future for its people and freedom rooted in belief in God and His word. Ah, yes, the Bible. If we can point to one source for applying the word “promise,” then the Bible, the most widely printed and distributed work of all time, is it.

People are fallible. People break promises, be they men or women. Yet, there is one who never breaks a promise — God.

I number myself among huge numbers of Americans who cringe at the United States and its current relationship with Israel. Israel dates back not hundreds, but thousands of years and boasts a God-given as the home of the Jewish people. The disintegrating relationship between our nation and Israel is dangerous and unprecedented. Never before in its history did Israel need us more, yet this administration not turns its back to the nation. Not only is it an administrative problem, but it also seems to be that of our chief executive who saw fit to escort the Prime Minister of Israel out the back door of the White House. Shocked? You should not be.

Over the past years we have heard comments such as “occupied territory.” Just who is the occupier? The Palestinians are claiming actual Israeli land and screaming for the world to back it up. What do we do? Defend the Palestinians who constantly pelt Israelis with rockets and send their attackers into Israeli streets with guns and knives to wreak havoc on innocent people.

Since 1948, the United States has stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel to fend off enemies, both individual and mutual, and put freedom front and center in the highly charged atmosphere of the Middle East.

If we judge promises on their merit, we must consider the end result. Do these promises last? Are they fleeting and only meant for an opportune moment in time? Are they made in response to an opportunity for the one who gives them? Hmmmm….. food for thought, folks.

Remember this. God’s promises are for all time. They do not have an expiration date. It is true that, as Christians, we believe that God made a new covenant with his son, Jesus. But that does not mean that we believe He canceled His covenant with Israel. Reading the Bible, it is easy to see that when a nation turned away from God, it lost His protection and engendered a very bad outcome. I fear we are headed down that same, sad path today.

If you consider a promise a cue for someone to expect something, the link between promises and politics is more than clear. However, it is critical to remember one message: a promise is only good if kept.

Coming full circle, promise and truth stand inseparable. A broken promise is worth nothing. A kept promise is worth everything.

There is, of course, a difference between a promise and an intention. Maybe we should look at electioneering and its promises in just this way. If we put our trust in someone’s good intentions, then we understand when world events or pressures adjust the timing of fulfilling such intentions.

However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the constant, incessant attacks on Christianity in this country. Materialism holds no serious power to change lives, unless you consider how it encourages greed and crime. Faith, on the other hand, gives hope to the downtrodden, comfort to the suffering, and peace to the true believer. We should not shy away from anyone who espouses a strong faith and lives it.

We need believers more than ever. Murder and mayhem in the name of God is the deadliest form of faith. We cannot allow it to gain ground. The Devil is at work in every sphere, even in the best nation on the face of the planet. What’s more, he comes in a very tempting form.

Christians should dedicate our lives to living out the messages of the Gospel. It is, in truth, the “Good News.” We need good news now. Find a balance between what is put before you as promise and what you can accept as a result. In the midst of it all, know that we are all human.

We should never turn our backs on the poor, but we should never be in the business of discouraging them from gainful employment and encouraging them to accept government help in lieu of honest work. We need to get our house in order and bring jobs home, regain our firm footing in manufacturing, and commit ourselves to building a better life for the next generation.

What’s more, this is a prime example of how attitude and values should rule. We need a recommitment to hard work and moral character. With those in play at every level of society, people thrive and work together for good.

It is fruitless to only think about today. We need to build for tomorrow. The debt of this nation is a disgrace. Once again, I recall the words of JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Today, we see government outspending itself at every turn and failing to heed the consequences. None of it makes sense.

A business cannot operate without profit. It cannot continue to borrow with no end in sight. It thrives of good management. We need that right now. We need a bottom line and it should be black, not red. The most talented business people should negotiate for our trade, not political appointees or those who may have contributed to an electoral campaign.

We need to promise one another to love our country and, with that love, work to turn the Ship of State around. It is on the rocks and we are its only hope. This is a promise we cannot break. Yes, there is a big difference between the promises of God and those of man. But now, it’s our turn to make the big one and keep it. Think about it.

# 223 – “Man of Steel”

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

By Hetty Gray

# 223

February 5, 2016

“Man of Steel”

Please forgive the hiatus. The past three weeks have been especially difficult, but only dog lovers will understand the state of mind of an owner in the wake of a beloved canine companion’s death.

If you have been paying attention over the past few years, you have noticed a not-so-subtle undercurrent among not only advertising, but also attitudes and strong character traits among our younger people. By “younger,” I mean those 30-40 years of age.

Watching the popular HGTV series “House Hunters” is a real eye opener. Disregard the exorbitant ridiculous in terms of real value per square foot. (Sorry for that comment, but as the daughter of a talented builder and a woman who oversaw the building of a fairly large home, I do know home construction.)

Witness these young people as they walk through prospective homes. The first thing you notice is that they are shopping for a home that is likely what their parents had by the time they were in college. It is hard to believe that their folks started out the way they ended not an isolated attitude today.

What ever happened to “starter homes” — those dwellings that were far from ideal, but cozy enough to shelter newly married couples determined to do better as years passed? What ever happened to being satisfied with ordinary and not demanding unique and top-notch in a first home?

It beats me!

Now, let’s hop from attitudes to character traits. When I was in high school, I dreamed of going to college; yet, I understood that the financial burden would be hard for my parents to shoulder. As it worked out, I went away for a semester and then came home to get a job and pay my own way through school. Butler University welcomed me, as did two wonderful jobs. True, rearing three active boys interrupted that education. Yet, I did finish over time and graduated college the same year as my eldest finished high school.

Working your way through school was not that unique back in the 1960s. Many did it, and I am happy that I was numbered among them. Today, that “pay my own way” posture is all but extinct. Instead, a sense of entitlement has taken over a large number of collegians.

Currently we witness throngs of civics-deficient students clamoring for someone else to pay their way through school. Recently, I saw film interviews on Ivy League campuses. Students there embraced the reporter’s faux movement to do away with the First Amendment. Talk about illiteracy of government to the extreme?

Here it is in full color and, I fear, not isolated.

I can remember my grandparents saying that the worst thing that could happen to you would be “going on the dole,” or getting government assistance. My, how times have changed! When the statistics are cited, it is possible for a single mother with several children to pocket more money through welfare and entitlement programs than full-time workers.

There are, of course, many parents today whose sole purpose is to guide their children to good lives by teaching hard work and moral values. However, these parents are widely absent from news media or movies.
Instead, filmmakers focus on aberrant behavior and shocking lifestyles — giving high marks to same sex couples or households absent a father. When, for instance, was the last time have you saw the evening news feature a solid, two-parent family with high school children that hold down part-time jobs and go to church every Sunday?

And when a high profile person puts the spotlight on the disintegration of the American family, the media attacks him or her as if a pariah.

As a teenager, I never saw anything to equal the things we see and hear today. I know that many of today’s returning veterans need help adjusting, but I also recall clearly who came back from WWII and Korea. Contrasting the man of 1950 to many men today, I deem the 1950s man a “man of steel” — but not George Reeves or Christopher Reeve. And today’s man, generically speaking, I see him as emasculated. Sad, isn’t it?

Those men in the late 40s and 50s, many of whom took advantage of the GI Bill to finish school, went on to lead productive lives. Few of those men ever spoke of what they had seen, and yet I know that their experiences must have been horrendous. Those who didn’t further their education took jobs in manufacturing, founded small businesses and began families — with high numbers buying their first homes, and opening savings accounts for retirement.

Bottom line, they grew up with a work ethic and world-view widely absent today. Reared by parents and grandparents who worked hard, few of those men would grow old with even a small percentage of what young people expect to begin with today.

Backgrounds steeped in patriotism and faith coupled with hard work turned out men and women of stronger mettle than we see today. I can imagine those men shaking their heads when witnessing the antics and demands of the 30s and 40s set today. Evidently, made of far sterner stuff than their descendants, I believe that they would consider the mindset of parents over the past thirty years who offered their kids “an easier” life not only short-sighted, but also dangerous.

Just what will happen if this nation is plunged into really dire financial conditions? Given the national debt, that is not unforeseeable. Could they measure up to a real challenge when it comes to money and lifestyle? Are they capable of facing real trouble? Job losses? Downgraded lifestyles? I wouldn’t bet on it.

It’s time that someone stepped up in the public forum and sounded the alarm. It isn’t crying wolf, either. It is a legitimate warning.

The folks who coddled their kids and accepted and went along with the “no losers” mentality when it came to athletics are to blame for this. Making life easy for a child never prepares him or her for the tough day-to-day struggles that lie ahead.

There is no telling what is around the corner for us, but to turn over the reins to a generation populated to an appalling degree of “me first” individuals gives me more than pause. It frightens me.

For most of our history, loyalty was given first to God, then country, then family. It’s hard to fathom that in a time when sports fans seem to have more allegiance to their favorite team than to their God or country.

I know I should believe that it’s never too late to change things, but this “gimme, gimme I deserve it” attitude only seems to spread as years pass. Visit again the young couple and the wife that complains that the kitchen in the house she considers has no granite countertops and stainless appliances and the husband that wants his entertainment center and “man cave.” Well, the closest my father came to a room of that sort was his desk. And what did he do there? He read. Both of my parents read.

Oh, we had a television my folks were not only very well read, but also self-educated. I would offer the fact that the two of them would far surpass the younger set in terms of breadth of knowledge. Doesn’t say too much for our educators, does it? Today, young people clamor to be entertained. It’s as if they run away from everyday life to escape into a faux reality.

Looking back, to top it off, my parents came from generations replete with good, old-fashioned common sense. What’s more, that common sense fueled a fierce push to make sure that children of my generation knew the meaning of hard work and respected their elders.

Work was not a dirty word. It was the path to a better life. Remember, the only place that success comes before work is the dictionary. Think about it.