Moving Through Suffering – Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
I am currently listening to Thirty Million Words (TMW) by Dana Suskind on Audiobook. She is the surgeon-turned-social scientist who wants to change the world, one child’s brain at a time. Her solid research has proven that between birth and 4 years old a child’s brain is a super computer under construction. The contractor? It’s the primary care givers of that child, who either connects the circuitry of that brain by way of a language-rich environment or, leaves the wiring only partially connected, through language deprivation.
I spend time with 4 year olds at a local public school. My heart aches, knowing this window of extraordinary opportunity is closing on these precious children. Sadly, I can see that it has, in fact, already closed for some. The TMW research shows that by 4 years old, if a child has not heard thirty million words, they will suffer an achievement gap which will follow them their entire lives. For want of words (and wiring), incalculable potential is squandered. This thought connects directly, but perhaps not obviously, to the American Dream which, to many, seems to be at great risk.
Research tells us that the American Dream has gone awry – the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; the middle class is shrinking. And, to make matters worse, profit-driven media and power-driven politics have framed this problem for us as a policy issue. People, please … policy making is like spitting on a raging fire. New laws and policies are at best a futile form of damage control. Our nation could take a giant step forward in extinguishing our fires by owning one simple truth – our problems are way too big for government to solve. Only we the people, can resolve our problems. Only we the people can resuscitate our American Dreams.
May I share a piece of my American Dream with you. Its really just a byproduct of my vision of God’s kingdom, which includes honoring the inalienable right of each human to reach their fullest potential, which happens to come from a higher source than the United States Constitution. Dignity comes to us by virtue of having been created in the image of God. The moment this notion is abandoned, every dream of freedom is at risk. My current American- flavored kingdom dream includes a statesmen (or stateswomen) who has chosen to rise above divisive, political claptrap, who, armed with poise and hope, will take the podium and say to us – the American citizenry …
Dear American family, and I intentionally address you as “family” because that is precisely what we are. Within the bounds of these two oceans, we have a unique mission and common destiny. Perhaps you may recall; that for America to retain her beauty (which we each treasure), she must “confirm her soul with self control and her liberty with law.” I hope that sounds familiar. It is from the second verse of America The Beautiful. Remember her? Sweet Land of Liberty – of Thee we once sang? Here is a portion of the third verse …
America! America! – God shed His grace on thee – Till selfish gain no longer stain –
The banner of the free!
Dear American brothers and sisters. Let me begin by asking you to help me rescue public discourse from hate mongers and sound bites. For their own selfish reasons, they pit us, one American against the other. Shame on them! They profit as they con us into blaming each other for withholding the American Dream from a shrinking middle class. With your help, I am going to do my level best, as a steward of truth, to rescue public discourse from its media captors. “We, meaning you and I, must spend our personal and national resources dealing with root issues.
Admittedly, for a time, it will be difficult for us to grasp, that at their core, our problems are not rooted in policy. They are rooted in people. So permit me to lead you back to the people-place where disparity actually begins. The roots of our American losses can be traced to the womb. From this place of safety, a child enters into this world with one of its organs not yet fully developed – its brain. What happens to that child’s brain after it leaves its mother’s womb is critical to America’s future. It is at risk because it is entering into an environment where …
whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
We are currently exhausting, dividing and bankrupting ourselves wrangling over symptoms. If we must point the finger, let’s point it back toward root issues. Let me direct your attention to what may be the the root of all roots – early childhood development. Hang with me. I’m not just talking about educational policy reform – I’m talking about societal awakening.
As Americans, we must become a racially, politically blind people where the collective good transcends selfish ambition. If we don’t overcome our selfishness, if we fail to exercise self restraint, we are going to fuel a cold war within our borders, that will weaken our nation at its core. Our enemies will laugh at us as we divide and bury ourselves with politically driven laws instead of giving ourselves to the proven roots of loud liberty. We, the American people, have opportunities before us. They are many, but certainly one of the greatest, is how we raise the next generation.
Let’s acknowledge together that our children are this nation’s future. Let’s repent of the evil we have foisted upon them with our national debt. Let’s do everything in our power to make this right for our children. And … while we are talking about our nation’s greatest resource, our children, let’s acknowledge the fertile window of brain development that is being squandered between birth and four year’s old. Let’s do everything in our power to equip these children to reach their fullest potential.
Opportunity, not tax coffers, is the true wealth of our nation. This is how we will redistribute the true wealth of our nation. This is a major way we will restore the middle class. This is how we will restore our American dreams. Please vote for hope when you go to the ballot in November.
Well … I’m not running for office. I’m just a Christian, who happens to be a citizen, dreaming and praying that my voice will be mingled with other kindred spirits. Our dream is that America may succeed in her destiny as that nation tasked by God, to reconcile its soul with self control and her liberty with law.
This may not seem like a very spiritual topic since saving a soul from hell was not once mentioned. While I have not discounted that sweet-by-and-by, the Father’s business also involves redemption in the here-and-now. It may not be the whole tamale but helping humans reach their fullest potential sounds just like something Jesus would do. It fits with his kingdom mission to …
bind up the brokenhearted … to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners … to comfort all who mourn, to grant a garland instead of ashes … the oil of gladness instead of mourning … the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Thy will be done on earth, even in America, as it is in heaven … and by all means, allow our children their daily bread of at least thirty million words. Amen.