Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Good Guys

I was listening to a message delivered by Donald Miller at Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan the other week. You can find it via their site or iTunes. Much of the message related to stories. In fact, you might see it as a parable in a sense, though instead of using agronomy as Jesus did, Don used the form of a good story. You might know Donald Miller from one of his several books, but especially one I loved and highly recommend, Blue Like Jazz. Every good screenwriter and author knows that a good story needs a good protagonist, that is, main character. But more than just being a good hero, or being attractive, strong, whatever, the hero needs to have a few important traits in order for the audience to like him or her. Firstly, he must never think he is better than anyone.

For the sake of long windedness, that’s the only thing I’ll cover today.

For the past few days, I have been mulling this over in my mind, what does this have to do with us, you know, us Americans. I think it has been coming together. I want to be very careful and not blame the world situation today on a single trait of a single nation, but as in a movie, a single trait never makes a character.

But Don tells us that a single trait can make or break a character in a movie. A good example of a movie with a humble protagonist is I Am Legend. Throughout the movie, Will Smith’s character is always simply driven to right the wrongs. Several times he does not allow the blame for Armageddon to pass to others, he has decided that the problem must be fixed, and that he will fix it.

Now us.

What is one of the most common things said among patriots in the United States of America? “The United States of America is the greatest nation on earth.” I won’t dispute this, but I also will not affirm it. Is it possible to think that maybe we are not always the good guy? Are we the good guy, but our movie was a box office flop because the audience does not connect with the character? I think a little of both.

We live in a world of turmoil. Some may disagree, but this has always been the case. So who is to blame? Other than the fact that we are on this side of the garden, in many cases, the US is. The US is almost single handedly responsible for the Islamic extremism that we see today. That is not to say that Muslims aren’t responsible as well, because everyone is responsible for their own actions, no matter the trigger. But when a country continually meddles in the affairs of another country, or many other countries, the result is never good.

If you ask the average person on the street if they are better than anyone else, the answer will almost invariably be no. It is just not something that is acceptable in our culture today, and for good reason, because according to Jesus, we are all equals. But if you ask if our country is better than other countries, the answer will far more likely be yes. So what is the difference? None, if you ask both questions of the same person and get different answers, that means one of the answers is a lie. Does that mean that the US does not have a higher standard of living, better health care, or lower crime? No, just as being better than another person should have nothing to do with how healthy they are or how much money they have.

What am I trying to say?

I am trying to say we need humility. As a nation, that is the single thing we lack the most. It spills over into everything we do in the world. You cannot walk into a business meeting and say “you suck, I never want to be like you, you have nothing to offer me but money, so you might as well just hand it over now.” That is not how deals are made, and of course, that is not how our politicians work, but it is the prevailing attitude. The only things the US has more than any other country is consumption and money. So our country’s defining characteristic is materialism. How sad.

So let me answer some things before I finish. Am I an American? Yes. Do I love my country, yes. Do I think it needs help? Absolutely. Why did I write this? People need to know, people need to think, people need to realize that being an American affords you nothing, it is simply where you live, because where there are freedoms, they can be taken away. There are six billion people who don’t live in America, and many of them love their country. They go on about their everyday business just like we do, they are just like us, inherently no better, and no worse.

Freedom is our greatest attribute, sure, but no freedom is ever guaranteed permanently.



The Clarks said...

you write good blogs, keep up the good work!! The wind propeller thing at Wal-mart was a little boring, but I like the others! ;-)

WiredForStereo said...

It's a Fr!&&!n' wind turbine Heidi!!!

It makes Fr!&&!n' electricity!!!


Sorry, I was watching Jay and Silent Bob clips on YouTube.