Contrary to popular belief, no politician can ever save us

I was working on a different post (my favorite U2 songs) and started writing about “Where the Streets Have No Name.” As I wrote, and then watched U2’s Super Bowl halftime performance I was flooded with thoughts. I’m trying to write them down now but mostly I can’t shake the thought that no politician, no man, no woman, no Republican or Democrat, nor any government in the world can save us. It seems like (at least in an election year), we cast all our hopes and dreams on the person running for office… as if our future depends solely on him or her. Well, guess what? It doesn’t. No matter who gets elected, they can’t save you. They can’t save me.

The place where “the streets have no name” is Heaven, just to get that out there. To me, the song is about dropping our differences and longing to be in Heaven… with God… where being with Him is all that matters. But while we’re on earth we have differences with people. We disagree. We fight. We tweet. I’m guilty of all of it.

The current of division in America right now is strong because so many people think they are right and the other side is wrong. Having a media that plays up the division just for ratings doesn’t help, either. So often I just have to turn the news off and voilá, I’m calm. Take a look at the next newscast in your city… what colors are on the screen when they talk about the news? Coronavirus, voting issues, politics, these topics are often scripted in red or have red backgrounds. This is very much on purpose to remind us of fear, being scared, and ultimately maintaining unrest. OK, that’s a little bit of a side rant!

As I watched the U2 performance, I sighed because I miss the America we were in the weeks and months after the 9/11 tragedy. We were united. Surely on September 12th we still had political, faith, race, ethnicty, many differences but I don’t remember any of those mattering. In the weeks that followed the tragedy, people from all over were going to New York City to help clean up. People were donating blood. The heartbreaking events of that evil day out of us brought the best, and to the back burner we shuffled the rest.

I sincerely hope we can be there again but this time by choice. We don’t need evil people to remind us that we are all born with a desire to find good in the world. It’s in our broken nature to care for one another however we see that working. But I don’t really see that much right now, probably because it’s an election year. Politics seem to bring out the worst in us. A tweet from a woman I follow on Twitter said it so well:

@SassyFNP

If anything, watching the U2 performance and reflecting on the state of the union, I was also reminded of the lyrics of a song by The Avett Brothers:

Life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected…

“Head Full of Doubt/ Road Full of Promise” The Avett Brothers

Sure some things go this way and other things go that way but like I said at first, no one can make you happy about your life. A Democrat gets elected? So what. A Republican gets elected? So what. How is my heart? How is your heart? If we’re waiting for a savior to come and preside over our great country, it’s not going to happen. People are flawed. We are messed up. But the good news is there IS a place we can go to fill the void we often try to fill with celebrities or politicians or protests or riots or boycotts or whatever. It’s not church. But the answer is often there. I’m talking about God. He’s been the answer for thousands (or millions, for all you evolutionists out there 😉 ) of years for all people in all circumstances.

I have placed my faith in Him and the One declared to be His son, Jesus. No matter what happens in politics, the ups and downs and the victories and heartaches, I’m SO glad my hope isn’t in the man or woman elected. My challenge to you today is to think beyond the differences you have with people. Think beyond the person we elect to lead our community, city, state, country. Ask yourself, and I will ask myself, too: What is it I’m hoping this person will fix in my life? And if the answer is anything besides taxes and better roads, let’s pray to God for that and give Him a chance to come through.

What do ya say?

-Out of the Wilderness

Detroit Youth Choir vs. Ndlovu Youth Choir – America’s Got Talent

I may just be a crotchety old man but something about Ndlovu Youth Choir irritates me. It’s actually not about the performances per se, or even the talent. They’re incredible and entertaining. I think it’s in the content and presentation. They’re all about Africa. That’s all fine and good but this is not Africa’s Got Talent! Know what I mean?

I think it’s important to play to your audience, and they don’t seem to do that. Sure, they performed Higher Love, but it was smothered in Africa this, Africa that.

Imagine your favorite college band going into their rivals football stadium and playing their own school fight song. Bold, sure. But then hoping or expecting the rival fans in the stands to give you a standing ovation and love you so, so much… well, that’s just disrespectful, right?

Or you show up to an art show featuring paintings by your best friend. Another pedestrian is also walking around in the venue and all they talk about is this other artist who’s got work in a studio down the street.

Or an even more accurate comparison… a choir from America auditions on Africa’s Got Talent and they are super pro-America all the time. It just doesn’t suit the environment.

Ya dig it?

Then you have the Detroit Youth Choir. I have no weird feelings with them. The strongest feeling I do have is this… They’re the home team who is simply super grateful to be where they are. Sure Detroit is in their choir name, but I don’t get the outsider, oblivious visiting team, our city is better than yours, vibe I get from the Ndlovu choir.

Is any of this making sense? Bottom line: they’re both good choirs, even great, and I only bring in the Detroit Youth Choir as a comparison to the Ndlovu Youth Choir. One is part of the fabric of America, while the othr seems to just want us to fall in love with Africa.

-Out of the Wilderness

Independence Day for the rebels

I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate July 4th for 38 years and watch fireworks shows all over the country. In fact, tonight I’ll be watching one in Missouri of all places. I’ve been to a show or two in Nashville, a couple in Ohio, quite a few in Florida, and up and down the east coast as I was growing up. I’m hoping today is a day that everyone around the country can set their political differences aside and simply celebrate. Firworks. Grilled burgers. Sparklers. Red, white, and blue.
Without the rebellious lovers of freedom hundreds of years ago, our country wouldn’t be as amazing as it is today. Before we are Democrats or Republicans, before we are Americans or immigrants, we are people. We are people who love freedom. We are people who believe in love and equality. It’s why the rest of the world wants to move here, and why some of the rest of the world hates us. But by golly, what an amazing country! One man can grow up to become a professional baseball player. One woman can grow up to run for president. There are teachers, and maintenance people, taxi drivers and Uber drivers, pastors, lawn mowing professionals, inventors and entrepeneurs, horse caretakers and zoo keepers. There are so many possibilities for everyone that calls themself an American and it’s all thanks to Independence Day.

So as you hoist your flags this morning, as you watch the fireworks explode in the night sky, be thankful for the rebels. The dreamers. The fighters. God bless America and I pray that our country unites again under God for the purpose of pursuing happiness with loving our neighbor as ourselves as our montra.

-Out of the Wilderness

Little Big Town sings the National Anthem

I wasn’t able to catch the college playoff championship on TV, so I listened to some of it on the radio. I happened to catch the national anthem performed by Little Big Town and wow, did they sound good. If you missed it, here it is:

Since my days of working at CMT, I’ve been a big fan of the group and I continue to be. Their harmony is just crazy. Go on with your bad selves LBT!

-Out of the Wilderness

Apathy in America: To respect our flag or not?

Disrespecting the American flag is a relatively new phenomenon. It was only in the late 60s/early 70s that burning the American flag became popular among Vietnam War protesters. This practice was illegal, but since then has been covered under the rights of the 1st Amendment. Even in 2011, the question remains whether it’s the people’s right to burn the flag. Do laws against flag desecration violate free speech? That’s the crucial issue at the heart of the battle which continues today. For the last few decades, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that flag desecration is covered under the 1st Amendment; free speech.

While I admire the passion, I cannot agree that burning the flag is, in any way, right or acceptable. What concerns me more, though, is that a lot of Americans are apathetic towards the flag. They don’t burn it, but they don’t fly it either. This has become more and more apparent to me in the mundane task of driving to and from work. It began one day when I saw a flag laying in the middle of a 4 lane road. It was trampled, run over, broken and torn. I wondered how it got there and why it was still there. Who was the lazy or disrespectful person careless enough to leave it laying there? Then I realized I was miles down the road, and had done nothing about it. I was careless and lazy. I blamed someone else for the very same character I showed. Since then, my life hasn’t dramatically changed. I didn’t have an awakening and join the military like a lot of people did after September 11, 2001. There was no big epiphany about how I should run for office or vote more. But I did make a heartfelt commitment to revolt against apathy and lazy disrespect. I won’t contribute to the decline of America, because it’s not the government’s fault. We can blame politicians, we can complain about the President, taxes, or war but change won’t happen until our apathy does. And I can tell you this, it won’t be the big things that change the country- a new President, going to war or not going to war, the Senate, the House, running for office, joining the military, protesting or burning a flag- it’ll be the little chances we have to reject our 1st Amendment rights and spend our energy on something bigger than ourselves. For me, it’s picking up an American flag whenever I see one on the ground. It’s my own way to respect the flag, honor those that fight under it, and perhaps contribute to a new American phenomenon.

click here for my post featuring highlights of Nashville, including the Tennessee state flag.