June 30, 2005
By: L.A. Kohl
(published in the July 6, 2005 edition of the "Bullseye")
By the time you read this, we will have just finished celebrating our country’s birthday. Many of you celebrated by playing ball, flying flags, eating watermelon, making homemade ice cream, and of course – watching fireworks. But amidst all that fun and recreation – did you take time to really think about what an awesome privilege and blessing it is to live in the “the land of the free and the home of the brave”?
I honestly hadn’t thought a whole lot about what a great country I was born into, until I left if for a season. Spending over two months in India a few years ago gave me a new appreciation for how much our nation is truly blessed. We are blessed with so many natural resources, diversity, physical wealth, spiritual and personal freedoms, and countless opportunities for ourselves and our children.
While in India, we befriended a “dhobi” – a man who washes clothes, by hand, for a living. He had a grown son. This dhobi had scrimped and saved until he had enough money to help his son go off to the big city and get educated in something other than washing clothes. Now the son had completed that education, but couldn’t find a job because his father, or no one he knew, could help “bribe” him into a position in that field…so, he was probably destined to return home and take up the trade of his father.
In America, if a person decides to flip burgers at the local fast food joint for their career in life – at least it’s their choice, and it wasn’t forced on them by a society that says you can’t try to do more, unless you’ve got the money to bribe your way up the ladder. Many can’t afford college, that’s true. But as Americans, we have scholarships, grants and student loans to help out with that. If college isn’t your thing, there are also many technical and trade schools to choose from. And there are small business loans available for those who are creative and gutsy enough to strike out on their own. My point is: the opportunities in our country are just so vast, compared to the rest of the world.
Here’s another thought…how many beggars do you see standing on your street corners? Sure – we’ve got homeless people that we occasionally see in Columbia standing at an intersection – but there is also a food pantry and shelters that they can go to if they get desperate. I’m talking about beggars on every street…not being able to walk through a city without having beggars follow you, or reach towards you, or pull on you. Beggars are almost a normal part of everyday life in most of the world – but America is so materialistically blessed that we rarely reduce people to that station in life.
I know that America’s not perfect. But thank God America is what it is. Many men and women over the past two hundred and thirty years believed in it so much that they fought and died for it. Not only that – but they believed in the concept of freedom so much that they fought and died so other countries could experience it, also. So let us not forget what a blessing it is to be an American, or forget Who it is that has blessed us so richly, lest we loose His blessing.