On Tuesday, President Obama spoke to the United Nations as representatives met from countries around the world.
I personally have a very dim view of the UN, but am very interested in what our President says to the world on our behalf.
The President struck the familiar apologetic tone in his speech, suggesting he will right the errors of past U.S. leadership.
He reassured the global community that under his leadership, the U.S. has "shifted away from a perpetual war footing"---although it was he who was trying to bomb Syria a week or so ago---and promised new limits on America's use of "soldiers, drones and intelligence."
And he said, "The world is more stable than it was five years ago," taking personal credit for the stability.
But it was the impression that he is "bigger than the United States" and perhaps different, that bothers me.
Here's what he said.
I'm not the only person who got the message, "Even if you don't trust the U.S., you can trust me."
Joel Pollak, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, also caught the message.
Pollak notes that our President seemed defensive and apologetic of America. He also notes that the President was not well received. No U.S. President in recent history has been more motivated to be accepted and acceptable to the global community than our current President.
However, rejection was on the face of many and the Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff has canceled a state visit with the President.
His remarks on Israel were also predictable. He chose to emphasize both sides of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, while highlighting the "daily indignity of occupation felt by Palestinians."
He also said he has not chosen sides between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military.
In conclusion, in what Pollak calls, "his traditional lecturing style," he told the nations they need to understand that we need alternatives to talking when diplomacy fails.
He closed with a plaintive call to fellow nations to understand that there needed to be alternatives to talking when diplomacy failed, and warned--condescendingly--that those who believed otherwise should say so and be ready to reckon with the moral cost of mass graves. It was as if President Obama believed that his own scorn--not backed up by any concrete action, which he abandoned in Syria--ought to be deterrent enough.
He urged the UN to accept his personal bona fides. "No one's more mindful of these problems than I am," he said, referring to the Benghazi attack as an unforeseen consequence of the Libya war (without blaming a YouTube video, as he did in 2012). But in urging the UN to "leave behind the old ideological battles of the past," Obama showed himself to be mired in an outdated belief in his own powers of rhetorical persuasion.
I believe there is a growing sense of distrust toward leadership in America. I also believe it is for good reason.
We have not chosen well in recent elections. In many cases, we have not had the best choices.
Gallup reported yesterday that a record number of people in the U.S. believe that government has too much power. They found 66%, a record, feel government is overreaching and has too much power. The poll includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
When 2 out of 3 Americans believe our government is overreaching and are concerned about it, it's because they feel they can run their own lives better than the government can run them.
And there is a common thread that runs through this concern.
It is revealed in some way in every poll.
Even this week, the Republican Party is giving us reasons to be concerned---saying one thing while doing another, creating distrust among many of us. They are saying they agree with a majority of Americans who want to abolish Obamacare, but their actions betray them.
Perhaps President Obama spoke for more than himself and his Party when he said recently, "If people can't trust not only the executive branch but also the Congress, and don't trust federal judges, to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here."
Two out of three Americans are saying, "We have some problems here."
We don't have to look too deeply to see what has led to this massive distrust.
The Benghazi cover up, the IRS fiasco, the Justice Department's monitoring of reporters, taking private citizen's phone records, data mining, the so-called "kill list," drones everywhere spying on, who knows?---the proliferation of surveillance cameras, DNA swabs, Obamacare, unrestrained spending and a President who says "raising the debt ceiling is no big deal, we've done it over 100 times."
Americans rights are constantly being eroded while the "ruling class" of lifetime politicians work to redefine the Constitution itself, growing the central government while diminishing the role of the state.
And when not revising the Constitution, some of our own are telling us one thing in our communities while asking for our vote, yet doing something very different once they arrive in Washington DC, Olympia, Salem or Boise.
James Madison warned of such a time, "The powers delegated by the Constitution...are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."
What can we do?
1. Get interested, be informed and get involved. Thomas Jefferson said, "Freedom is lost gradually from an uninterested, uninformed and uninvolved people."
2. Ask the Lord to lead you and other people of faith to elect the right leadership in our country and state. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3). I strongly believe the steps of the righteous are ordered of the Lord. I believe the Lord gives us discernment in these and other matters.
We live in very challenging and often frustrating times. Our country hangs in the balance. Our freedoms hang in the balance.
I love football.
I read the other day of an interesting incident in the life of former head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Mike Holmgren. He was reflecting on a moment of deep frustration in his life. As a young quarterback, he was cut from the New York Jets. After becoming an outstanding coach, he explained that the disappointment of not making the team led him to a greater plan for his life.
He said, “I had committed my life to Jesus Christ when I was 11, but in my pursuit to make a name for myself in football, I left God next to my dust-covered Bible. But after getting cut from the Jets, I pulled out my Bible and found comfort in a verse I had memorized in Sunday school: ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’ I asked Jesus Christ to take control again. My priorities in life are faith, family, and football—in that order.”
My grandmother often quoted those verses to me. Those verses in Proverbs not only worked for my grandmother and Mike Holmgren, they are true for any of us. If we can just learn to trust God, He will direct our paths. When disappointments come and we keep on trusting, He will secure the direction of our lives. If we trust Him, God will get us where we’re supposed to go.
People of faith and conservatives have experienced setbacks recently, but God has ways of using these seeming setbacks for His good.
If we trust in the Lord, He will lead us in getting our country where it is supposed to go. But we must become active. Faith without works is dead.
Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.