As I put my hand to keyboard, it is 11:49 AM, Eastern Standard Time on Monday, November 5th, Anno Domini 2012. In less than 24 hours, the majority of the polls will be open here in the United States and its citizens will determine the future course of this country.
In spite of third party accusations to the contrary, Romney and Obama do represent different poles of political thought and this election will be the watershed that determines the fate of the U.S. for the next 40 years. Yes, it is that important.
I have not announced on the Internet how I will vote. I’m not going to now, even if the men and women I’m voting for tomorrow win their elections or not. That is not the point of this essay.
Please rest assured that the thoughts that follow are mine and mine alone. Of course, you have the right to disagree with them and I have no problem with those who do. We are talking about worldviews after all.
However, the point I want to make starts with this: as important as this election is, there are those who believe that it will be the end of the world or, at least the future of the U.S. if their political party does not win. They believe their destiny and happines and purpose are so tied to who sits in the Oval Office, they are convinced their personal misery index will escalate to incredible heights if the party of their choosing loses. They believe their lives will be unlivable and I have met several individuals, fortunately just a few, who believe they may even die.
If you are one of those people, you have my pity.
My personal philosophy has been hard won. It did not come handed down to me from my parents, and did not come packaged inside a cereal box. It has been forged in the actual fires of life; on the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica and Quito, Ecuador and in making my home in inner city Philadelphia and the Baltimore city line. I have known despair so heavy that I have been seconds away from sucking a slug out of a shotgun; I know what it is like to go without food and be genuinely hungry; I have been emotionally, mentally, and spiritually raped by an oppressive religious system; I have dealt with death threats, mental illness in myself and others, and been so physically sick I truly believed I would not awaken the next morning, and yet my life has also been marked by great happiness and joy and opportunity.
I have true friends; I have a personal world view that gives me faith, hope, and a future; I have a wife and three boys that make my life worth living; I have a creative gift for writing; my blessings far outweigh my negatives; and now in my 58th year of life, I laugh more than I cry.
Therefore, for me it does not actually matter who wins the elections tomorrow.
Because of what I know and what I will do, at the end of the next four years I will have done more than survive the term of our next president. I will thrive. I may even prosper, and not for a moment will I have given into despair.
If you’re interested, my reasons follow, and I believe that most of them fit you as well.
1) I am teachable.
Every person I meet has something to teach me, positive or negative. This is not some philosophy I just came up with. This is how I have lived my life from Day One.
For instance, in my present position, I deal with the elderly on a regular basis, and each one of them has a life story that I can prosper from. This is why I refer to cemeteries as “God’s Library.” Sadly, too many of those stories will never be known for they died with the storyteller. This is why I urge the elderly to write their memoirs, but while they live, I am their most attentive student.
2) I stand on the shoulders of giants.
I have heroes and I have no shame in admitting that.
Robert Aulthouse, Dr. Francis Norton, William Baer, Dr Abe Van Der Puy, Randolph Lester, Amos Devor along with my parents and my two brothers are names that mean nothing to you, but any rewards I receive in the afterlife I will lay at their feet.
I am not completely a self-made man. Much of my life is a legacy of the wisdom and love of people who defined faith, honor, and integrity in action. Much of me is the result of a community of a great cloud of Titans.
And I live to honor their contribution in my life.
3) I am flawed, and I know it.
I don’t give myself airs. I know what it is like to suffer and make stupid decisions. In my past, I embraced self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors. I have done things that today make me shake my head in a mixture of shame and bewilderment.
Yet, they have all been overcome.
But I am still not perfect. I wear an invisible button on my shirt: Please Be Patient. God Is Not Finished With Me Yet. I am, as the old cliché goes, a work in progress.
I'm not completely healed, but I'm walking in the right direction.
4) My life has a purpose.
I have many friends that are atheists, agnostics, and skeptics and, yes, they are my friends. I understand where they are coming from.
However, having wrestled with the Big Questions, I admit no shame in being a member of the Christian community in spite of its flaws and struggles.
And therefore, my life has a purpose for being. No matter the method which was used to get me here, there is a reason for my life.
So what has God done to deal with the misery and suffering of life?
He sent me (and, by the bye, He sent you too). I have done much to relieve the suffering within my limited circle of influence. If we all commit ourselves to doing just that, regardless of our personal paradigms, we can do much to turn the suffering of this world around.
And speaking for myself, I don’t depend on the government to do the job I have been called to do.
5) I have goals.
In my office, I have goals that I have written to be achieved within the next 20 years from now even though in two decades, I will be 78 years old.
I know the direction I want to go. I have learned that I can do almost anything I want to do with my life, but I can’t do everything. So I have made a list and past experience has demonstrated that I will achieve 80% of my written goals.
And it does not matter who sits in the White House. At the most, they might hinder my purpose, but they cannot stop me.
- I am teachable.
- I have had the best mentors in the world.
- I know my limitations and how to overcome them or at least compensate.
- I have a purpose.
- I have a vision.
And I don’t need the government to achieve what I want to do or become. And I truly believe that is true for you as well.
Depending on who is President of the United States for the next four years, may God give us His blessing or His mercy. Hopefully, both.
As for me, I still have a LOT to do to make this world a better place to live.
Time to get back to work.
By the bye, need some resources? Here are some awesome books that have been a godsend to me:
- First Things First, by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill. I read this book 18 years ago, and it was one of a trio of books that I am convinced saved my life.
- The Art of War, by Sun Tzu and James Clavell. Out of all the translations, IMHO, this is the best. I keep this book next to my Bible and I read it once a year.
- Adrenaline and Stress: The Exciting New Breakthrough That Helps You Overcome Stress Damage, by Archibald D. Hart. This is the new edition of the second book I read years ago that genuinely saved my life, if not my mind.
- New American Standard Bible, Updated (NASB) is my favorite translation of Scripture. It may not be as readable as others (I have heard very good things about the the English Standard Version (ESV) which is noted for its readability), but it's accuracy as a translation is the best that I have researched. Of course, Bible books that would be relevant to our discussion are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Nehemiah, and The Gospel of John and Paul's letter to the Philippians.
- Inside Out, by Larry Crabb and Gary T Smalley. This is the third in the trilogy of books that turned my life around 18 years ago. It is not a pleasant read as the book lives up to its title, but good medicine sometimes has to be hard medicine.