It was July 4 in our Mississippi town–possibly in other places too–and I was doing what we pastors often do, even on holidays, heading to the local hospital to check on a church member in crisis. Along the way, I flipped on the radio and found myself listening to a patriotic rally being aired by the station in Houston, Mississippi.
A candidate for sheriff was speaking.
“One morning recently, I was driving the back roads in the southern part of the county looking for voters. All morning long, I kept passing the same little yellow car. I figured it was another candidate out trying to scare up votes.
“At lunchtime, I stopped at a country grocery and bought a soft drink and took my sandwich outside under the shade tree. A few minutes later, that same yellow car pulled up. The driver got out, went inside and bought some lunch, and came out and sat down under the same tree.
“Making conversation, I said, ‘What office are you running for?’
“He said, ‘Huh? What are you talking about?’
“I said, ‘I’ve seen your car up and down these roads all morning. I figured you were a candidate out looking for votes.’
“The man said, ‘Ha! Mister, I ain’t running for no office. I’m a thief; I’m looking for something to steal!'”
Two men having lunch under the same shade tree–one part of the problem and the other working hard to be part of the answer.
We are all one or the other. And sometimes, Lord help us, we are a little of both.
If you vote and try to stay informed in order to do it wisely, and if you head to the polls even when nothing is important and few others go, you are part of the answer. If you stay home or are not even registered, you are part of the problem.
If you obey the laws and teach your children to abide by them, you are part of the answer. If you obey laws only when someone is looking (like a neighbor of mine who breezes through the stop sign when there’s no other traffic) or only when it’s convenient, you are part of the problem.
If you care enough to attend meetings of your city council or board of supervisors, if you ask questions, if you write letters to your editors, and particularly if you run for office yourself out of your love for America and a desire to get this country back on course, you are part of the answer. If you sit back and criticize and do nothing, you are part of the problem.
It takes courage to get involved, since someone is not going to like your speaking out.
It takes a love for your children and their children and a desire to see that this country is still intact when they inherit it.
It takes a willingness to turn off the television and get up and do something.
That’s why most people will not do it. They have neither the courage, the love, or the willingness to act.
The good news is this leaves the field open for you.
If you care enough.