Memorial Day. In memory of those soldiers who died in the service of their country. There is a boulevard in my small town called Memorial Boulevard. Along this boulevard are several memorial statues dedicated to city soldiers who lost their lives in various American wars. There are also oak trees planted along this boulevard and next to each oak there is a marker with the name of a city soldier lost in World War I. There are about thirty such markers, a huge toll for such a small town at the time. It has been nearly a hundred years since they died on foreign soil fighting for freedom.
So, what freedom did they fight for? One hundred years ago, the average citizen had less freedom than modern young people in regards to his or her family. It seems as if young people had certain obligations towards their families that young people today don’t have. To a large degree, today’s youth can choose the career of their dreams, move to the location they desire and marry whom they choose. They can make a life for themselves, but is that freedom? At the same time, we have lost other kinds of freedom that people one hundred years ago took for granted. Today, we owe much to our government. More and more, our government decides what is appropriate. We have lost the right to pray in our schools, to put the Ten Commandments in public places and even to display a creche at Christmas time on the town green. The people of one hundred years ago would be surprised at what we can no longer do. Are we now “free?”
What makes a person free? We would all agree that a person who is addicted to alcohol, smoking or to internet porn is not free. He/she is a prisoner to that habit. Just as an addict is not free from his addiction, I am not free if I freeze in fear each time I face a large crowd in a public speaking situation. I am a prisoner of that fear. Or perhaps each time I open a package of cookies, I eat the entire thing. I am a prisoner to that craving. Both situations create a negative result for me.
So, on this Memorial Day, as we honor those who died to preserve our freedom, what makes us free? Freedom in regards to our family or our government increases or decreases and yet still we find ourselves not one hundred percent free. The only real freedom we can enjoy is freedom inside of ourselves, in our souls. Only the truth can make us truly free. If we live that truth and free ourselves from those things that hold us prisoner, then we are free indeed with a freedom that no one can take away.
We are truly grateful for those soldiers who nobly fought and died to preserve our natural freedom. It gave us the opportunity to find and live our spiritual freedom. Thank you to those thirty young men who died one hundred years ago. Thank you to the men and women who have died before then and since that time. The most deeply felt thank you must be reserved for Jesus who most nobly fought and most lovingly died that we each might find our true freedom. Thank you Jesus. We remember you this Memorial Day weekend.
I’m digressing today. I actually do not like politics, but politics came knocking on my door today, or perhaps a better description would be that it came slamming the door in my face. For my living I am an adjunct instructor. Universities love to hire adjuncts because they don’t have to pay them so much and don’t have to give them benefits. Therefore, most adjuncts need two jobs to survive. We juggle crazy schedules because we love our students.
I lost half of my salary today when my evening job was taken away from me the day before the start of classes because of the new rules concerning Obamacare. In the morning I teach one class at a state university and at night I teach one class in a local community college. About a year ago, the two systems (state universities and state community colleges) merged. The reason I lost my job is because Obamacare reduces the number of hours that a person can work in one company or, in this case, one system. Once an employee goes over that cap, the employer needs to provide health care to them. Even though I work in two separate schools, it is considered one system. I only teach two classes. Both are slightly intensive, one being ten hours a week and the other six hours a week. I have worked at the morning job for 22 years and the evening job for 10 years, and yet now they say that I cannot continue teaching my evening class. My immediate boss fought hard to keep me, but the college would not back down. They said that they cannot afford to give me benefits.
I don’t know how you feel about things, but all I can say is how will you feel when they come after your job? Personally, I know that God will take care of me. He always has and always will. He is bigger than their puny laws and regulations. He is so incredible, kind and wonderful. Man’s laws pale, and in fact stink, in the face of the beauty and righteousness, coupled with kindness, of God’s laws.
The loss of my job matters to no one but my husband and I. It will not show up on any lost jobs list. The job still exists and someone will fill it. I will not show up on lists of the unemployed because I am not unemployed. I still have one job at which, as an adjunct, I am treated as a new employee each semester even though I have worked there for 22 years. It’s true that the loss of my job matters only to me, my husband and the students I would have taught, but it did matter a lot to me. I loved it. I loved my students and frankly, I needed the extra money. Does Obama care?
A quiet morning after Thanksgiving perusing the headlines that shout out to us that shopping has trumped the traditional Thanksgiving meal (cnn.com) has produced a contemplative spirit. A little outrage too. Why? Why would anyone want to give up a delicious meal and relaxing moments with great conversation with friends and family to go out in the cold in order to face off with thousands of people looking for the same bargain?
The outrage comes first. The whole media/shopping blitz is eroding our country’s family values and traditional ways of living and taking away from time spent relaxing and renewing one’s spirit. It’s frustrating to see people falling for the media campaigns and enticing ads to constantly shop and spend more money. To keep a person focused on shopping and attaining more in the way of personal goods is to keep that person focused on the apparent trappings of this natural world and to keep him at the same time far away from reflection on his spiritual and emotional state. His/her mind is constantly engaged in this natural world and what he/she “needs” to continue to improve his natural surroundings.
After the outrage, more reflection creeps in. You see, I did not spend my Thanksgiving waiting outside the doors of the local big box store, nor did I head out this morning to get the best deals at the mall. The question returned: why would someone give up a nice, relaxing afternoon and great conversation with friends and family for …..? The answer instantly appeared. They did not give up a nice, relaxing afternoon with friends and family. Many families barely tolerate each other. Put them all in one room and the tension can be cut with the same knife used to carve the turkey. So and so is not talking to so and so and those who are talking to so and so are just feeling sullen today because … who know the because? Just because.
It’s easy to see in that light why so many would prefer to be out shopping. I have not ever had to spend a holiday in such an angry environment, thank God. I have, however, heard of such things. It’s really a sad commentary on our society that shopping would trump a nice, relaxing afternoon spent in thoughtful conversation and childlike laughter with one’s beloved family and friends. A lovely and loving afternoon can refresh our spirit and prepare us for the days ahead. It can give us insight into our world that will help us for weeks and months to come.
The media and advertising campaigns are therefore not the issue. The underlying issue is the problems in our homes and in our personal lives. Those problems keep us from making and maintaining strong social and familial relationships. So, instead of blasting the shoppers and the mega media moguls, we should put our strength into helping families to renew their relationships. We cannot influence all of those with broken families, but we can influence those around us who may be struggling. It would be so refreshing to see the shops HAVE to close up on holidays for lack of shoppers. They will only need to do that when there is something much better going on in American homes. We can make it happen.