Hope for America

I didn’t win the contest Citizen Magazine sponsored for its anniversary, but I did enter, and I thought I’d share that entry as we remember 9/11.

“God bless America, land that I love…” Those words go through my head as I watch my students rise to say the pledge on the first day of school. They are tired. There is a collective mutter of ,” Do we have to?” My students are at the stage where they think there is much wrong with America. They’d rather live somewhere else. My generation has messed things up. Undoubtedly. But I still think there is hope.

Our country was founded by people who believed in God or, at the very least, acknowledged His presence. Our Declaration of Independence acknowledges God when it says that men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” At the time of our nation’s founding, the general public would have understood this reference to the Creator as being about the God of Christianity. My students are quick to point out that some of our founders, whether they believed in God or not, owned slaves and did not give rights to all. That is true, but our country changed later on, and I believe that change occurred because there was a common standard to which our founding fathers adhered.

It is this adherence to the idea that all men have rights that gives birth to the volunteerism for which Americans are known. Somewhere in our collective national memory is the idea that even the poorest among us are entitled to the basics. If they cannot supply those things for themselves, Americans as a whole are good at stepping up and providing for them. And Americans don’t save their volunteering just for the big things like Hurricane Katrina. They can be found throughout communities doing things like building houses for Habitat for Humanity and reading, tutoring or mentoring in schools. Volunteerism and the donations that sometimes accompany will not uphold a nation by themselves, though.

What upholds our nation, I think, is prayer. Throughout our country there are people who pray. They pray for one another. They pray for schools. They pray for communities and their elected leaders. It is true that their prayers are not always answered the way they would have liked. We have only to look at the evil that happens in our country to see that. But I am convinced that people who pray do make a difference, that God does listen. Genesis 18:32 tells us that God would have spared the city of Sodom for just ten believers. God’s initial intent was to destroy the city entirely but, because of Abraham’s intervention, He would have spared it for ten righteous people. All Abraham had to do was ask, just like the pray-ers in America are doing.

All these are things that I want to tell my students. Yes, my generation did–and does– mess things up. Still, there are many of us who believe that God is in charge of things, not just in the United States, but of the whole world. We believe that He wants us as a people to honor one another. Because of this belief, many of my generation get out in the community and get involved. We believe people should be treated like we want to be treated, and if they’re not, we try to find a way to help. Finally, I want to tell my students, America is who she is because people pray for her. We pray to a God who listens. We pray to a God who loves. And because this God is a God who cares, I believe there is hope for our country.


1 Response to “Hope for America”

  1. 1 Rochelle Ritzi September 13, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Beautiful post. Simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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