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Make America Good Again

Jim Cathcart by Hope and Pray wall on Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship

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Vultures eat the dead or dying.

It is a fact of nature. If you are too weak to resist them, they will finish you off as they dine. No amount of indoctrination or retraining will get a vulture to eat only approved food. Likewise with rats, they’ll gnaw on it even if it isn’t organic matter. Scavengers do not make good pets. Nor will they ever be your friend.

Ironically, a group of vultures when not in flight is called a Committee. I’ll resist the temptation to run with that idea for now. Vultures feeding are called a Wake. Vultures in flight are called a Kettle. Let’s just go with Committee.

Reports have shown very little separation between Al Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban. All are Islamic extremists. They are predators, scavengers and vultures. Among desert people they are the desert rats. It is their nature to destroy and devour. In fact, they revel in it. It is their idea of a good time. Really. Let that sink in. They seek subjugation of and dominance over all who would disagree with them. How do you negotiate with such a creature? You don’t. “Negotiation” implies two parties seeking to reach a conclusion that will be acceptable to both. They don’t do that. But we do.

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Is America Good?

We have been good and, in fact, that is our main weakness. In war anything that reduces the threat from an adversary is an exploitable weakness. So, when ‘coyotes’ are herding immigrants across the Rio Grande they will often throw children into the water, knowing that Americans will rush to their rescue. Then in the confusion, the drug smugglers cross the border upstream uncontested. They don’t care about human life and we do, so they use it to distract us by creating an emergency we can’t resist.

Our adversaries are free from the limitations imposed by caring about honor, duty, friendship, compassion, or even personal integrity. The “god” they believe in is a scary dude that will take you out if you disobey. Their faith, if you can call it that, is in diminishing human life to the level of compliance and ritual. They believe in killing and they are not inhibited by morals. They treat women as cattle and don’t allow them to become educated or productive. They only want them subjugated and indoctrinated so that they will obey. They have no interest in the advancement of human life. They simply want to control it.

Meanwhile back at the ranch:

In America all of our laws, policies, cultural practices, religions, and societal norms are based upon the valuing of human life. We believe in caring about each other and being good stewards for future generations. Generations of good people. This is rooted in the belief in a good God, the God of the Bible, a loving Creator. We have Muslims, Hindus, Protestants, Catholics, and many variations on these faiths but the one dominant premise in America is: Human Life Matters! We are creations of a loving God and it is our blessing to help to advance life on Earth. We are the most joyful people on Earth, the most resilient, the most creative, and certainly the most influential in the history of the world.

Everything in Moderation.

When we are more compassionate than committed to victory then we are exploitable. When we go to the other extreme we become creatures like our enemies. There is a point along this continuum beyond which we are no longer being compassionate nor considerate. Beyond that point we are being stupid and weak. In a tornado it is not smart nor nice to hold open a door and say, “No, you first, I insist.” It is a crisis so just find shelter and help others do the same! Likewise in a war, know that your vulnerability will be exploited and plan against that tactic.

The same applies when raising children. Parents who shelter their children from difficulty tend to raise weaklings and cowards. It is as if they believe that a child’s muscles will grow if the parent lifts the weights for them. People who do not face difficulty do not learn to deal with challenges. A “safe space” on a school campus where you are shielded from those who disagree with you is a really dumb idea. It doesn’t keep the kids safe, it just deflects the difficulties temporarily. It is like finding a shelter that only protects you from the first few hours of a two day hurricane. Sooner or later all of us have to deal with bullies, political opponents, jealous coworkers, unfaithful partners, greedy vendors, unscrupulous business people, and the physical dangers of the world. If we don’t then we end up hiding in Mom’s basement long after we are adults. And we seek to blame others for our weakness. Protect your kids from harm but let them find their own way through difficulties.

Goodness is not something that is taught.

It comes from what we believe. Our natural state is animal; do what it takes to eat and survive. Our enlightened state is spiritual; seek to do good and to advance and grow. Mortimer Adler once said there are only two basic questions we need to answer: Is there a God? and What is his nature? If there is no God then we are just intelligent animals, so do what works and then die. If there is a God but he’s a mean S.O.B. then you’d better figure out what he wants and give it to him. Just obey and he won’t hurt you.

But, if there is a Loving God, everything is different! That means that someone cares about us and we should care about each other. That means that Life has a purpose and we will become happier and more fulfilled when we help to advance life. Everyone who finds meaning in their life will tell you how good life is. Everyone who finds life meaningless will be angry because life is futile. Money, fun, food and bling are very poor satisfiers. They are the sugar of life: a big rush followed by an empty and guilty feeling. Love and goodness are the proteins and minerals, the nutrients of life that foster even more life.

Hope and Pray

If there is no God then what do you pray to? You don’t. Instead you beg, demand, rail against, gamble or blame whatever is outside of you: the weather, the country, the laws, the unfairness, the systemic-anything that disadvantages people like you. When you find others who have the same sour worldview then you organize to pass more laws, rules, policies and requirements so that others won’t have an edge over you. No God equals many many more laws, rules and regulations. Diminished life. An exercise in futility.

But when there is a loving God you can count on goodness as an asset. With good people contracts are kept. With good people consideration of others is given. With good people compassion is shown. With good people what we do in private is not a threat because good people don’t lie nor cheat nor steal. There’s nothing to hide. Good people do generous things with no expectation of reward. They thrive on being good. There is joy in generous living.

Hope comes in two forms. Weak hope is “I sure hope it doesn’t rain on our picnic.” Strong hope is “I see a pathway to safety! There is hope for us after all.” Weak hope is begging, it is a subject’s form of proactivity. But it is rooted in negative expectations. Pessimism is the worldview of weak hope. “There is no way! We tried that before and it didn’t work. What makes you think you are so special? You’ll never make it with all this traffic. Give up you are wasting your time.” Strong hope is expecting to succeed.

My own family’s motto, from long ago in Scotland, is “I Hope To Speed.” It used to perplex me so I looked up the ancient meanings of those words. Hundreds of years before automobiles “Speed” meant: to prosper or succeed. And hope, in this context, meant positive expectation. So, today’s translation of my family motto is: I Expect To Succeed. No wonder I  became a motivational speaker!

Now look at the dark side:

Closed Schools, Teachers Unions Blockades, Comprehensive Racism Training, Unconditional Surrender to the Taliban, Unfettered Government Spending, US Support to Rogue States,  Fighting COVID with Masks, Mandatory Vaccination, Micro-agressions, Pejorative Language, Systemic unfairness, Technological Threats from China/Russia/Iran, Social Media Censorship, White/Black/Brown/Yellow Supremacists, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Climate Change Deniers, Defund the Police, Make Landlords forgive Rental Debt, Make Banks forgive Student Loans, Low Respect among Nations, Stalemates in Congress, Lies from our Leaders, Communism, Socialism, Greed, Slavery, Banning Plastic Straws, Homeless multitudes, Nonstop Immigration, Voting Law fights, Atheism, Next!  

Surely there is something else to fear that I overlooked in this list. Name your poison. Which ones get your blood boiling? If there is no loving God, then folks, we are toast! This laundry list of evils is all rooted in conflict among those who are not good and cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Good people could resolve almost all of this, without being required to do so. Pick your devil and apply goodness to dealing with it, most problems  would dissolve quickly.

How many laws are enough?

Among bad people no amount of laws would ever be enough. Look at the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of laws on the books already in the USA. We have storehouses of documents across the country with policies, regulations, laws, requirements, codes, restrictions and other pronouncements that are not working. Passing a law against murder didn’t stop murders. So they passed more painful punishments. That’s not just a crime, it’s a “hate crime!” Excuse me, but all violent crimes are rooted in a hateful attitude. And penalties only restrict the good people who might consider doing the deed. Criminals just work harder to not get caught. What’s the difference between a 7 year prison sentence and a 50 year sentence when paroles and pardons can erase either of them?

Laws are not the answer. Goodness is the Answer!!!!

The best and cheapest law enforcement comes about in the home. When Mom and Dad require good behavior then the community doesn’t have to worry about it. When families go to church, pray together, bless their meals, say the Pledge of Allegiance at public events, then goodness ensues. When children are required by their parents to behave respectfully, responsibly, and with good intentions then society becomes safe again. When police officers are treated with respect and friendship they respond in kind.

There is no adversary so great that good people working together cannot resolve it. There is hope as long as there is goodness. There is goodness when we pray in gratitude rather than as a form of begging. Let’s be a grateful, generous, self-disciplined Good Nation Again!

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Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is an Executive MBA Professor, Author of 21 books, Hall of Fame Professional Speaker, Top 1% TEDx video (2.4 million views), US Army veteran, Singer/Songwriter, and Lifelong Motorcyclist. He is known as "Your Virtual VP" for his Advisory/Mentor work with organizations worldwide. Based in Texas...and proud of it!



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Faith

Decrease in Marriage Continues a Spiraling Wave of Problems, and Churches are AWOL

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Over 60 years after the decline of marriage began in the 1960s due to the rise of the “free love” mentality, the results are more dismal than ever. In 1960, only 28% of adults were single. Now almost 50% of adults are single. Marriage rates are at their lowest ever in U.S. history. There are eight times more children born to unmarried parents than married. 

 

This is a problem. While progressives love to tear down the traditional nuclear family, they can’t argue with the increasingly negative facts coming out. Cohabitation arrangements break up around five times more frequently than marriages, and unplanned pregnancies occur three times more often with cohabiting couples than married couples. Unmarried couples with children are three times more likely to split up and have lower incomes. Children without fathers are more likely to suffer an “Adverse Family Event,” which is abuse, neglect or other trauma. Disregarding the old saying “Marriage tames men” is why we are seeing a spike in bad behavior by men.

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Two authors with extensive backgrounds in marriage and the Christian church have written a book, Endgame: The Church’s Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America, outlining the crisis and showing how the church has failed to address it — but also providing specific solutions to fix it. “Endgame” refers to the crumbling of marriage. 

 

Co-author J.P. De Gance, a Catholic who came from the political sphere working for Americans for Prosperity, pioneered a marriage relationship project called Culture of Freedom — later rebranded as Communio —  which had tremendous results. He launched it in several cities, working with churches and faith-based organizations. In Jacksonville, Florida, which had dismal marriage rates, divorces fell 24% after the three-year project, which focused on 58,912 couples.

 

Similarly, John Van Epp, an evangelical relationship expert, ran his own Christian marriage relationship service, Love Thinks. In one area in Indiana that he focused on, divorce rates dropped 20% over 10 years. 

 

What the authors found is that churches are lacking in marriage ministry. Three out of four churches don’t provide any substantive relationship courses or resources for married couples. And even though singles make up almost 50% of heads of households, more than 90% of churches don’t have an adult singles ministry. 

 

What should be most alarming for Christians is the decline of relationship health is now the most significant factor in disrupting a relationship with Jesus. This is why church attendance is at its lowest rate ever on record in the U.S., 47%. In 2000, it was 70%. Church attendance is largely determined by one variable — parental marriage. Both children with unmarried parents and divorced parents were equally less likely to attend church.

 

Marriage crumbled because of the decoupling of sex, romantic partnerships and parenting. Today, the majority of couples have sex before starting a relationship. The authors point to online dating as one of the culprits — it’s made it easy to leave a relationship the instant a problem arises, because you can find a new romantic interest right away.

 

They found a correlation between atheism and lack of married parents. Millennials who were the least emotionally interested in attending church were also the least likely to report having a positive relationship with their parents. The 30 most well-known atheists in the world had a defective relationship with their fathers. 

 

Progressives may pretend that Christians are no better off than the rest of the population, but the authors found that churchgoing Christians have sex more frequently and are happier in their sex life than those who don’t attend. While one quarter of couples in church have a struggling marriage, 39% of couples in general do. 

 

Unfortunately, pastors don’t realize they’re not doing a good job in this area. While 93% of pastors counsel couples in crisis, 57% of them do not believe they are qualified enough. A “marriage 911” is lacking in the church. Churches spend lots of money on youth programs, but that’s not helping people stay in church. 

 

The authors say we need to go out into the community to find couples to help, not expect them to come searching and find these services. It needs to be portrayed as something everyone needs, in order not to scare people away thinking it’s only for couples who are on the verge of breaking up, otherwise people will be afraid of the stigma.

 

The authors reveal what works as successful techniques. They teach couples to address problems early on in relationships. It’s a myth that good relationships don’t require work. The “balanced relationship” is an illusion. What is normal in a good relationship is this: About the time a couple feels that they have a routine that is working for them … life comes at them fast. One of the most valuable tasks the authors have couples do is to make a top 10 list of what they think their spouse wants and needs from them.

 

Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ) is key to a good marriage. This means both interpersonal, which includes communicating with your spouse, and intrapersonal, the ability to monitor your own emotions and actions. Studies of people doing tasks who have somewhat higher EQs but also somewhat lower IQs than others reveal that the former perform better, shattering our traditional views of IQ. 

 

The authors also emphasize the importance of both skills and virtues. Secular counseling focuses on skills, whereas Christian counseling tends to focus too much on just virtues. Skills include discernment, appreciation and expectation, self-control and commitment. 

 

The authors conclude by saying the church needs to make marriage ministry and relationship outreach normal. Marital problems shouldn’t be left up to social agencies to handle. The secular world is going to continue to disparage marriage and continue the downward cycle that the misnamed, so-called “free love” brings, so the church has to step up and stop the leak in the dam. 

 

 

  

 

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Faith

Seek Out the Good in Others

If you try, you can find at least one thing admirable in everyone you meet.

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Will Rogers, a political satirist, entertainer, and beloved figure in the first half of the twentieth century allegedly said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Many people have interpreted Will Rogers to have meant that he could find something admirable in everyone he met. So, too, can we all.

Something Admirable

Is there a co-worker with whom you have had a nasty relationship? Is there something good about this co-worker that you can draw upon, so that you can actually say something nice to him/her at your next encounter?

Is there a neighbor with whom you have had a continuing squabble? What would it do to your relationship if you sent your neighbor a card or a brief note that said something along the lines of, “I noticed how lovely your garden was the other day and wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you’ve done in maintaining it.” Too syrupy, or, pardon the expression, too flowery?  Guess again.

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You’re on this planet for finite amount of time. Do you want to go through your life trading hostilities with people, never having the where-with-all to restore some semblance of civility to the relationship?

Finding the Good

Try thinking of and listing five people who you may not have a good relationship with but can acknowledge. Next to each person’s name, write what is good about them. Do they maintain a nice garden? Here are some ideas for you in case you’re drawing a blank. This person…

* Is kind to the receptionist at work.
* Turns assignments in on time, and hence, supports the team.
* Walks softly past your office, so as not to disturb you.
* Greets you in the morning when you arrive.
* Maintains his or her office well.

Away from work, here are some ideas for finding the good in others:
* Keeps the street in front of the yard free of debris.
* Is respectful of others’ needs for quiet.
* Dresses well.
* Has well-behaved children.
* Drives safely in the neighborhood.

If you try, you’ll find something good!

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