"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?..." (from John 18:38)
Here I am on Holy Week 2021. I remember that a year ago we were immersed in the whole COVID-19 thing, and today it's maybe just a little bit better but it feels about the same. I'm on a rare day off. I just came from a dental appointment. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment today because I've got a numb mouth and I'm writing a piece which I suppose could generate hostile responses that will at least feel like a punch in the mouth! Everything is so supercharged right now. There is so much hate and division. There is so much judgment. I feel extraordinarily sad about it, and I feel more than ever like I don't belong in this world!
I hate the whole "woke" thing. I hate the whole thing that I am supposed to feel ashamed and guilty that I am a white male and especially that I am a white evangelical Christian male. And, as far as politics, I am uncomfortable with the extremes of both the right and the left, although don't get me wrong, I'm much more "right" than "left" in my own political views. What's frustrating is the far right thinks America is all good, all perfect, and all wonderful. There's nothing to feel bad about. It's all good. Columbus was a wonderful guy. General Custer was a wonderful guy. Let's get American flags and wrap ourselves in them and worship them. That's the American far right. And, it's equally frustrating that the far left thinks America is all evil, all despicable, and all terrible. There's nothing to feel good about It's all bad. The Native Americans had their lands stolen and were treated like garbage- and still are. The Blacks were dragged over from Africa, treated even worse than the Native Americans, made slaves, and then suffering horribly under Jim Crow. Let's all give the flag the finger and unleash a tirade of F-Bombs against the military and all American law enforcement officers.
The fact is the history of the human race for thousands of years has been of great good actions and great evil actions. Just about any country I can think of has done much good and much bad. Just about any ethnic group I can think of has done much good and much bad. Throughout the centuries, one people has conquered and subjugated another. What ultimately came out of that as decades and decades have gone on is a whole lot of really good stuff and a whole lot of not so good stuff.
Do you remember Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem about the little girl? Here goes:
There was a little girl, Who had a little curl, Right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, She was very, very good, But when she was bad she was horrid.
So much in life is like that little girl. So much! If I had to tell you everything about my life, I could tell you true stories of what a wonderful, giving, caring, self-sacrificing guy I've been, and what a total jerk I have been. Do you think I want to tell you about the time I pulled a false alarm using one of those old fashioned street fire boxes when I was a ten-year-old? I don't want to, and I did get caught. And, I've got lots of stories I'm ashamed of. I imagine you do, too.
We are being told, no people are trying to force us right now to see America as racist and evil. As radio talk show host Jesse Kelly says, "We are told America sucks!". And we are. Just my humble opinion here. I have told you the extreme right's position on America and the extreme left's position on America. Both are wrong - obviously. But, I think for the sake of and the good of our culture and our country it's better to see America as a wonderful country, built on wonderful ideals, which is still a land of opportunity, but a country which at times has done some serious wrongs and made some terrible mistakes. That's how I choose to see America, and how I will continue to choose to see America, even if I'm forced to sit in classes which try to make me see or think otherwise. Listen, if I were depressed and suicidal and hating myself because I pulled a false fire alarm and did some horrible things in my life, especially when I was around middle school age, would you encourage me to focus on that stuff or on the good things about who Bob Baril is?
Now, notice the title of this piece. It's TRUTH, I'm saying let's present and discuss America's faults and failures, absolutely. But let's make the main focus that we are getting better and that America is a good and decent country. One missionary to Africa once told me that, "Half of sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of twenty and forty want to come to America". If America "sucks" as Jesse Kelly warns the left constantly stresses, why do so many people want to come here?
Speaking of truth, one of the reasons I know the Bible is true is that it tells the truth about all the "great men and women of God". It tells us sometime after the flood, Noah got drunk and was naked, and one of his son's disrespected him and acted like a jerk. It tells us Abraham lied and was out to protect himself and his wife by any means necessary, good or bad. It tells us David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had Bathsheba's husband murdered. It tells us the great and holy missionaries Paul and Barnabas in the New Testament had a big hostile argument and went their separate ways. It tells us the Apostle Peter denied knowing Jesus, cursing as he did so. The Bible tells the truth. These people were great servants of God. They also had great flaws and God doesn't hide that; but God also doesn't make that the "be all and end all" of who these people were!
Back to American politics, about thirty years ago I heard a caller to Rush Limbaugh's radio show ask Rush, "Don't you wish all the liberals would go away; don't you wish we were rid of all the liberals?" You may be surprised at Rush's answer. He said he did not wish for that! Rush said a truly free society has a place at the table for many various political and philosophical ideas. Certainly, conservatives should be there at the table, but so should the liberals. Rush said we are all to listen to one another and to consider what each person says, and ultimately to carefully come to a consensus. And he's correct. And I'm concerned that America seems to be rapidly moving away from that sacred ideal.
On Holy Week Jesus Christ talked about loving one another. On Holy Week Jesus washed His disciples' feet, including Judas Iscariot's feet. If you're on the right, can you pray for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris this week? Would you humble yourself and wash their feet? If you're on the left, can you pray for Donald Trump and Mike Pence this week? Would you humble yourself and wash their feet?
On this Holy Week at this very serious time in our history, this is my "two cents".