“Oh Say Can You See”
By Joe Ortiz
I just love singing our national anthem. Every time I sang it in school, and especially while attending a sporting event, it brought tears to my patriotic eyes. The only tears I have been shedding lately are for the sad state of affairs we are experiencing in this great country of ours, especially its dividedness. This sadness is more profound and visible as we can see an even greater divide than before.
Most pundits were saying this past election could very well turn our country into a different direction; but which direction? Both sides launched campaigns that stoked the furnace of fear and insecurity, and they both believed they had the only solution (we can believe in).
Democrats said John McCain would have provided more of the same (more wars with more countries), inferring ineptness in his foreign policy. Republicans said Barack Obama was a political opportunist who will expose our country to terrorism in our own turf. But those messages were not about fear and who would keep us more safe by voting for their candidate. What got Obama elected (supposedly change you can believe in), in reality will basically never altar nor solve the real problem. Obama’s election may impact the economic and cultural philosophy of America, but it will never be able to solve the main reason behind a divided America, which is a spiritual one.
I abhor labels such as Liberal and Conservative. Those labels paint unqualified perceptions of the individual and deny the opportunity to evaluate their heart’s intent. Conservatives say their adherents are for less government; however, it’s the former government (Bush) leaders (at the national level, especially) who were shelling (no pun intended) out billions of your tax dollars for war-making purposes. Liberals (Obama and the current Congress) say they are concerned more so about the American citizen, promising a chicken in every pot. Their philosophies are both weak to the real truth!
Regardless, the variance in views have polarized our American family as never before. But more importantly, these respective doctrines fail because they never truly consider the spiritual question. I’m not speaking about the emotional nor the patriotic spirit, but the spirit of human creation itself!
Yes, I still believe our country was formed to escape the church dictating the affairs of state as was the case with most of the old Western world. Our nation supposedly was founded so its citizens would have the freedom to practice the religion of their choice and live within the framework of a fair and just government. The idealism behind the Constitution was a mindset that spoke about liberty and justice for all. The bedrock of this ideology emanated from its people’s heart and soul. It speaks about its love and respect for family, hard work, pioneering spirits, and especially for its commitment to the good for all of our fellow human beings. I believe this spirit came from God! Somehow, however, we seem to have lost our way.
Yes! We got bombed by terrorist in our own back yard on 9/11. And, like the judicious country that we are, we needed to corral the culprits and bring them to justice, as we always have. Instead, the political and media grinding machines continued to fan the flames of fear, and the political differences (since 9/11 and now) have become the giant smoke screens that smothers the eyes of the human spirit.
Something sadder and more horrific than the threat of our country’s economic collapse (and/or terrorism) is blinding the hearts and minds of the America family, which is the dissipation of the spirit it received over 200 hundred years ago, a spirited people which had been the envy of the world. Nowadays, we are seen by too many other countries as the big bully on the block, trying to enforce our democratic way of life on others. Showcasing by example a strong democratic system to the world has always been a great idea.
However, the example we have set in the last 10 or 15 years, especially (including the Clinton and Bush years, both politically and spiritually), have been of such hubris, gluttony, self indulgence, arrogance, power hungry and political mendaciousness, it’s no wonder so many countries were taking pot shots at us at every opportunity. This was not true leadership!
Obama fans believe he will be different; that he will bring about “change we can believe in.” The jury is still out as to whether his economic and health care plans will work. They may or may not. However, he, nor Congress, nor any political party or leader will or can address the spiritual malaise that is permeated through every thread of this country’s political quilt, until the spiritual issue is addressed directly!
Unlike the Jihadist's vitriol (calling us the Great Satan), I don’t believe our country warrants the label. We definitely are the freest country in the world. Maybe we have too much freedom. But, we don’t accept this criticism with any degree of unity. Instead, we cling to our Liberal or Conservative mantras and slug it out with each other. Both sides have valid points, but both miss the mark, and we need to see what united examples we should project to the entire world. The biggest message we are sending today is that the American family is a divided nation! The reason for this is that we depend not on God’s immutable laws, but on our own manmade systemic doctrines. It’s more about the Left or of the Right, not about God’s truth. We don’t agree with the other person’s philosophy; it’s all about one side through its jingoistic rhetoric calling the other side un-American for not accepting a war-making mindset, and the other side claims that man’s intellectual liberalism ability is a better problem solving approach, rather than trusting and depending on God’s wisdom. Many will say this is religious rhetoric, but God has said and He has placed it into the conscience of each individual to know the difference between right and wrong, left or right, whether they have read or ever studied God’s word.
But this national dividedness is our own fault! And it begins in our respective households! The tenor of the day is what we call reality, that insidious underbelly of human nature that permeates every aspect of today’s society. You can see it best on our television screen with shows about wife swapping, worm-swallowing, ear drum bursting sounds called music and children preying on parental guilt to purchase items they don’t need. Our media are pouring forth images that negate the very tenets embodied in the Ten Commandments, such as “Honor thy mother and thy Father.”
A recent example that drove home the point how media are subtly undermining the family structure is a recent commercial that shows the father of a family who purchased cell phones for his kids so the family could better communicate with each other. Rather than showing excitement about this great idea, the kids’ response toward their father was disrespectful and embarrassing to see, as it showed him as some doltish, inept male that had to be humored for making such a suggestion. Honor thy mother and Father?
Media do this so craftily you have to wonder who is responsible and why this subtle denigration of the family structure prevails. But, it’s not just about selling cell phones, Ipods, video games or the latest electronic distraction, it’s about selling anything and everything (especially a divisive political mindset) that is slowly, but surely, eating away at the core values and the Godly fabric that makes up the entire American family. Our respective families are the mirror of our society. And unfortunately, we are divided as never before in our history! We lack the self-respect, courtesy, dignity and honor that were once the envy of every nation in the entire world.
We used to be a great people. We were known for our charity to all of humanity. Now we indulge self, not only our stomachs and our eyes, but our hearts, minds and souls with a putridity never before imagined. Over-weight America is not a genetic problem, it’s all about indulgence, it’s all about choice. While we can’t see this, others can! What message are we sending to the rest of the world? Is this the character of tomorrow’s American Family!
This country is my family, and this country needs to heal its spiritual malaise. This country is Anglo, Mexican, black, Asian, Native American and a myriad of other nationalities, a people who were either born here or arrived here (maybe without proper documentation) seeking to fulfill the American Dream. Its people and its leaders need to look inwardly and recapture the spirit that blazed a path of glory for over 200 years, one that was based not on man conceived philosophies (left or right), but on the fundamental principles embodied in God’s word.
The next time you attend a sporting event with your kids, or a school function, where they begin singing our national anthem, when those words of one of the most beautiful songs ever written proclaims, “Oh say can you see,” ask yourself if you can really see what’s truly going on within our America family. Then say a little prayer for God to forgive us for what we are doing and to quickly begin the healing. Remember! We can’t heal family problems we claim do not exist!
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land, (2 Chronicles 7:14).”
Joe Ortiz is a veteran newscaster/talk show host who has the distinction of being the first Mexican American to host a talk show on an English-language, commercial radio station (1971 KABC-AM, Los Angeles). He is the author of The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation (Author House), two books that challenge many right-wing evangelicals who promote the Left Behind and Pre-Tribulation Rapture, as well as military solutions rather than peaceful means to solve world problems.