Please accept my apologies for posting this blog two days late. I could go on in detail about the computer problems I experienced this week, but you don’t want to hear it and I don’t want to explain it!
I pen this blog on the morning of July 4, 2006. This is an important day for Americans and almost nobody else, but it is the day we celebrate the birth of our country and our independence from Great Britain. Every nation has a birthday and July 4th is ours!
During my lifetime I’ve often looked at international news on television and newspapers and said to myself, “Boy am I happy that I was born in the United States of America.” There are millions who suffered under the torture of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Thousands of people continue to be slaughtered presently in Darfur’s sectarian violence. Today 1,200,000,000 Chinese citizens enjoy vastly improved economic conditions but are not politically free to speak their minds. Based on what I see in the rest of the world it is not difficult for me to be thankful for the blessing of being born in the United States of America. That fact alone gives me a “leg up” on most of the world’s citizens.
I’ve also had the privilege of being able to travel and to meet here in my hometown many wonderful people from places like China, India, Mongolia, and the Middle East. I count some of them as close friends and communicate with them weekly. While they love their home countries, many of them have acknowledged that it is truly a blessing to be a citizen of the United States. In fact, some of them continue on their path to become legal, permanent residents in the United States. In their presence I never express my pleasure about being born in the United States. After all, I did nothing exemplary to deserve such a fate and they did nothing wrong to be born in another country. Why was I born here and they were born somewhere else?
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I don’t know exactly how the Lord does things, but let me offer my theory for your consideration. Before a person is born, the Lord spins three “birth wheels”. These are like the big wheel on “The price is right”. The first wheel is the “country of birth” wheel with the names of various countries in the world. The second wheel is the “parental prosperity” wheel, which determines the financial resources of your parents. The third wheel is the “parental responsibility and love” wheel, which determines how much your parents (independent of financial means) love you, nurture you, and care for you.
All three wheels are very important. The country wheel is important, but doesn’t guarantee happiness. For example, you could be born in the United States, the child of a single mother who is a crack addict. You have done real well on the “country” wheel, but lost out big time on the “parental prosperity” and “parental responsibility and love” wheels.
The “parental prosperity” wheel doesn’t guarantee happiness either. You could be born in the United States to rich parents who have no time for you and care only about their country club memberships and business meetings. Despite the fact that you have all of the material possessions you desire, this won’t bring happiness. You might end up depressed and lonely.
I believe that of all the wheels, the “parental responsibility and love” wheel is the most important. For example, you could be born in India or China to loving and caring parents of limited means that will do anything in their power to bring you happiness. They will nurture you, love you, and encourage you to get a good education. Guess what? You’re probably going to live a reasonably happy life. One thing for sure; you’re going to have a lot happier life than the crack baby or spoiled rich kid growing up in the United States.
Even though the “parental responsibility and love” wheel is the most important, this will not help if you get an incredibly bad spin on the “country” wheel. You can be sure that many of the parents of Kurdish children gassed by Saddam Hussein loved their children as much or more than you love yours. It didn’t help. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On this Fourth of July, 2006 I am grateful that I got a good spin on the country wheel. However, far from putting me in a position to gloat, that place on the country wheel gives me the humble responsibility to make the best of the freedoms and opportunities that are available to me. To do less than that, in this United States of America, is an unpardonable sin.