An essay by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys:
"Character Counts" and
"What is it that 'Makes America
(or any country) Great'?"
There have been several articles on the Internet recently that try to explain why evangelical Christians voted heavily for -- and continue to support -- President Trump.
A Google search of the Internet for the phrase "evangelicals support trump" returned 516,000 hits!
Public opinion polls indicate that about 81% of evangelical Christians voted for President Trump in the 2016 federal elections. However, among all voters, Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillarry Clinton.
In the comments area of one of those articles about the evangelical vote, a reader posted the message:
"What is there to understand. This is who they are."
They are showing us the true content of their character.
Character has been defined as:
"The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. The complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group or nation. The main or essential nature of a person."
Your public character -- the "you" who is on display to the world in your day-to-day words and actions -- is a window into the health, well being, and size of your heart and mind, your spirit or soul.
Americans at one time earned the title of "Ugly Americans". When they traveled in foreign countries they were often seen as being rude, crude, judgmental, lacking in basic manners. Today that title seems to fit again.
Some people show us a pretty ugly picture. They show us a character that is judgmental, hypocritical, self-righteous, selfish, ignorant, prone to lie and to believe lies, vindictive, hateful, fearful, racist, prejudiced, biased, angry, and resentful bullies.
Other people display a lovely character. They show us a character that is compassionate, thoughtful, considerate, loving, kind, generous, open minded, truth seeking, curious, intellectually stimulated, responsible, concerned, trusting, wise, enlightened! These people know that there are two things in this world that can’t be bought at any price. They aren’t given to you by others. You have to earn them. Once earned no one can take them away from you. You however can throw them away. These two things are: honor and integrity.
Honor has been defined as:
"Credit for acting well, your good name. Integrity: honesty, uprightness, sincerity, trustworthiness.
You can’t have honor or integrity if you tell and spread lies, or if your word can’t be trusted.
Martin Luther King Jr. "Had a Dream" where one day his children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I will add to that:
Their gender, or gender identification, their ethnicity or country of origin, their immigration status, their wealth or social position, their political office or position in a corporation, and their religion or lack of religion.
In the end it isn’t what Religion you follow or whether you follow any religion. The ONLY things that matter are your day-to-day words and actions: how you treat other people (especially those that are different from you); how you treat other living things -- plants, animals, and our planet; and how you treat yourself. These all show us the true nature and the health and well being of who you are as a human being. Your day-to-day words and actions are the windows that reveal the content of your character.
What is it that "Makes America (or any other country) Great?"
President Trump keeps saying he wants to "Make America Great Again" but -- it seems to me -- that he is doing the opposite. He is actually damaging what it is that makes America (and other countries) great.
Some will insist that it is our economic power that has made America Great. Others will insist that it is our military power (might makes right). I think both are wrong.
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) commented about the recent fiasco with the separation of immigrant children from their parents that: "We are better than that". That "this isn’t who we are as a people."
Who we are as a people is the content of the character of our nation. What kind of a nation do we want to be? Does our collective character matter? I think it does.
In the children’s story and the Walt Disney movie about Pinocchio, the wooden puppet wanted to become a REAL boy. In order to do so he had to stop telling lies and also develop a CONSCIENCE.
What makes America great is our Collective Compassionate CONSCIENCE. A conscience is that nagging better angel of our character. It tells us when what we or our leaders are doing is WRONG.
It is true that our Collective CONSCIENCE seems too often to be on vacation, or dormant, or sleeping, and we have allowed our leaders -- and some people have allowed themselves -- to do some pretty awful things before "we the People" woke up and started to protest.
Eventually slavery was outlawed. Eventually women and people of color were given the right to vote (though there are still some trying to restrict that right). Eventually homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender persons, and other members of the LGBTQ community were granted some equal rights. Still there are others that are trying to holdout and the battles aren’t over, yet! Native Americans had to fight for centuries -- and are still fighting -- for their rights.
Our leaders have supported some pretty awful dictators. And our current president seems to admire "strong men" over our faithful allies. In the past, all that mattered was that a country’s leader say he was against Communism, and our leaders and much of our population would support him.
Isolationists tried to keep us out of the World Wars but our Collective Compassionate CONSCIENCE eventually kicked in and we (as a nation) did our part. It is that Collective Compassionate CONSCIENCE that helped get us out of Vietnam.
I think Hitler managed to crush the collective CONSCIENCE of many of the German people back in the 1930's and 1940's. But fortunately he didn’t get to every person in the country.
I think that President Trump -- instead of crushing our collective CONSCIENCE -- is trying to tell people to ignore it. He seems to either ignore his own conscience or, perhaps, he never really developed one. Instead of appealing to people’s better angels, he appeals to their baser instincts. Instead of trying to uplift people he is dragging people down into the sewers.
AND unfortunately he has been aided and abetted by some evangelical Christian religious leaders. Are they showing us the true character of Christian evangelicalism? Or are they simply individuals who have lost their way?
What made America Great and what will make it Great Again is a strong Collective Compassionate CONSCIENCE that tells us when we as individuals, and/or our leaders, and we as a nation, are doing is WRONG and must change.
We can "Make America Great Again" when we:
Equal rights for all, and a person’s character is more important than political promises and power.
However, it will take people with great, compassionate, responsible, thoughtful, considerate, loving, kind, generous, open minded, truth seeking, curious, intellectually stimulating, concerned, trusting, wise, enlightened characters that value honor and integrity in order to make America Great Again.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- "Kingdom Character Matters," Mending Hearts Community Worship Ministries, at: https://mendingheartscwm.org/
How you may have arrived here:
Original posting: 2018-JUL-19
Latest update : 2018-JUL-23
Author: Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys