Monday, September 12, 2011

This morning I received one of those “patriotic” e-mails of the kind we are so accustomed to deleting from our boxes so we can get on with the day’s work.  This one said:
I am forwarding this to all of you, because it scares me to see the leaders of our country and our TV stations banning the use of American flags, whether on a lapel or from a home, or wherever.  This is America, and it is the land that God gave to us...let's continue to pray for our land and that we might have a revival in our hearts towards HIM!

The e-mail that came to me was launching a campaign to display flags on the occasion of our 10 year celebration of 9/11. No problem with such a display. But the introductory words supported a fearful campaign far more sinister.  With carefully chosen inflammatory words, the writer here planted visions in my head of presidential proclamations, congressional bills, TV news spots and newspaper headlines, all banning flag displays, and perhaps hinting at escalating anti American…”something BAD…”

yeah,  I get those, too, and every day I seem to learn the “sky is falling!!” (thank  god for chicken little!!) and we’ve talked in these blogs about the goofy preacher in florida who burned all those Korans and caused the retaliatory deaths of a lot of people, and the CA preacher who—well, I think he’s still has a date marked off in October for when the world will end…you have no end of nut balls who would love to wear neon signs on their foreheads advertising their Christianity, and very nearly NONE who want to advertise the true other side. I’ve said and I’ve said, often, I guess that it’s not up to me to understand that most of you are good and solid, kind people and/or pretty much like everyone else…BUT not everyone prefaces what they do with WHO THEY ARE…and not everyone passes judgment on others in the process of whatever they do…”judge not that ye be not judged…”

but now, this morning when we were talking, you got a little exercised about the flag email—okay, crazy!! and I have to say, I agree 100% most of them are nonsense, and incendiary, and could be turned off at the source  by the use of one simple, teeny tiny device that would take less than a teeny tiny minute…

I went to Snopes to check it out.

I was not surprised. Once again, someone  trying  to stir up panic and fear and wanting us to take a fighting stand for patriotism, as if we needed to be talked into patriotism! And, as if that were an essential element of godliness. In order to do this they have taken a few isolated incidents, and  revised the script to fit  in with their little playlet. And they well know that there are many people who will read, but not analyze, or possibly even think through what is said. They will, with shaking fingers, pass it along to their whole address book, via email,  and thereby help to widen the panic, or smear, or whatever craziness is being pedaled today—in this case--what they interpret as a massive move to ban the display of the American flag.

What I found at Snopes (WWW.SNOPES.COM) were these 3 stories:
1.     ABC had long had a policy against wearing any national identity symbols while doing a televised news report.   At the moment when the whole country erupted into a flag-flying mania after 9/11, ABC insisted on keeping that policy, even though many of their employees wanted to change things at least for the moment..
2.    A company that tried to ban flag displays on its premises, actually confiscated these at the time of 9/11. Subsequently, they investigated it and changed this policy.
3.    A group of high schoolers in California decided to wear T-shirts with American flags on them on the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo. This offended some Mexican students who claimed it was their holiday. School officials told students to turn their T-shirts inside out. Instead, the students called their parents who took them home to change clothes. This stirred up Fox news to start a poll to see how many folks disagree with flag-banning in the schools.

No proclamations or bills, TV images or newspaper headlines. Just stories of American citizens interacting with a world that doesn’t always understand or appreciate our brand of patriotism.  In a time when tensions are high and feelings are raw about issues like immigration and homeland security, little relational volcanoes are sure to erupt.  What we do not need in the middle of all this, is a group of folks who live either so far to the right or to the left that they cease to search for a middle-of-the-road stance where we can experience peaceful coexistence. they don’t want to hear about it, and they don’t want to know about it…

We  need to look for truth—basic truth, whole truth—when we read  things that seem to want to incite us to fury, and to do so before we even consider passing them on..  And to my Christian brothers and sisters, I would say that of all folks on the face of the earth, we should be the very first ones to do so—we claim that our God is Truth, and so we must be most zealous in learning and protecting the Truth. But instead, we seem so eager to gather evidence of the deterioration of our culture that we grab onto every sensational report and never ask whether it is true or false or uncertain.
In dealing with the deluge of fear mongering that often stuffs  my inbox, I have learned to:
1.     Search Snopes and other dependable resources to determine whether the purported “facts” presented are actual facts, or somebody's distortion of the facts for whatever purpose.
2.     Search the incidents that gave rise to the report I am reading to see what really happened and why. There is almost always a “rest of the story…” . And that reason often alters the whole story.
3.    And, finally, I always pray before passing anything on! And, if necessary, I  wait until my anger has subsided and I can honestly say I care more about being the peacemaker God has put me on earth to be than about helping somebody else’s “righteous” cause.