“My God-given American right…” July 3, 2012

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I read it off a bumper sticker on the back of a puke-green, mud-splattered pick-up truck. So you know it has to be true. Yes, I am back in Dixie, where all chicken is fried, all biscuits are covered with gravy and all truths are simple.

I love the south–at least, many things about it. There is a quiet hospitality available at the root of its motivation. But I’ve always been uncomfortable with any group of people who too closely mingle God and country. Historically, it’s proven to be a nasty mixture–whether it was the Roman Empire trying to make Caesar divine, or Hitler manifesting a super-race. Whenever nationalism and spirituality tango, the result is a tangled mess.

But the bumper sticker did get me thinking. Are there any “God-given, American rights?” Are there any standards, beliefs and guarantees granted to each of us simply because we were created by God and born in the United States?

I came up with a list of seven. I believe that if you listen to them carefully and follow them fervently, you will discover that a universal unction of benefit will be provided your way. They don’t really have much to do with our Bill of Rights, which tends to create more debate than progress, but rather, are the careful blending of the heart of God with the will of our nation.

1. You have the God-given American right to get as much liberty as you’re willing to give. Liberty is a slippery slope. You are completely free to seek it–as long as you’re willing to grant it to others. The minute you limit the possibility of another citizen, that measure will be measured back to you.

2. You have the God-given American right to prosper as you work and multiply your talents. There is no reason to believe that laziness or a sense of entitlement will provide for your common needs. There is also no scenario where continuing to do the same things repetitively will increase your coffers. You must work, keeping an eye on ways to expand.

3. You have a God-given American right to be loved exactly at the level with which you love. The minute we begin to believe that certain people are attractive, colorized correctly or financially solvent enough to receive more attention, our whole system of government and belief fall apart.

4. You have the God-given American right to be given to–at the rate you give. One of the “rules of the jungle” in human behavior is the precept that selfish people eventually get starved out. We tend to give to people who give. At first it may not seem that way. There may be the deceptive appearance that greedy people actually achieve success more quickly. But that’s only because those who are plotting revenge against them need time to perfect their plan.

5. You have the God-given American right to receive blessing if you’re willing to survive hassle. Blessing is not a portion provided for those who whine, complain or pout. Blessing is built into the natural order, to be the prize given to those individuals who stop resisting change, find a way to conquer the hassles that come along and introduce inventive ideas.

6. You have the God-given American right to be included as long as you believe that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Even though the principle is a bit simplistic, and I suppose, deemed arguable by disagreeable people, any other approach creates too many prejudices that shut the door to others–thus eventually shutting the door to ourselves.

7. And finally, you have the God-given American right to respect your heavenly Father, honor Mother Earth, and live at peace with your sisters and brothers. Fussy children spend most of their available hours in “time out.” Yes, life has time out. When you’re not willing to give place to God, honor to Mother Earth and respect to your brothers and sisters, you will spend a lot of your earth journey missing out on opportunity, eating your peas and carrots without dessert.

So there you go. On this day before the 236th birthday of our country, you have my particular list of our God-given American rights. Forgive me if I left out some favorites–like brattiness, indifference, provincialism, regionalism, nationalism, political parties or religious intolerance. The truth is, certain trends may be given a podium and an ear for a season, but history tells us that they eventually will be snuffed out by the desire of the people and the intelligent will of God.

So take heart. Receiving our God-given American rights takes a little more than dropping a buck on the desk at a convenience store and picking up a bumper sticker and slapping it on the back of your favorite ride. It means being prepared to give everybody else what you want.

It means being human … and allowing others to do the same.

   

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