As I look at the current condition of our world, especially in America, I am troubled by what I see. I believe that it can be and should be a positive thing to do deep introspection and carefully evaluate one’s own life and the world one lives in. It is a worthwhile exercise to reexamine our ideology, life philosophy, spiritual condition, and worldview from time to time. I do not mean meaningless thoughts that sometimes only lead to doubt and rejection, but to see clearly and enable one to adjust as needed and chart or rechart the course of their life.
As I contemplated this, I took a stroll through the annals of Roy Beaird’s history during this Christmas season. That may not have any meaning for you, but as I share some of my chronological stories, hopefully, I can interject something worthwhile for us individually and the nation. That may be a lofty objective too utopian to be practical, but I ask that you indulge me.
I have always been proud to be an American and, sometimes, doubly proud to be a Texan. We native Texans tend to be quite proud of our state. I have had times when I was a bit ashamed of our elected officials’ decisions regarding international and internal policies. I have seen some politicians from my home state go to Washington and not proudly claim them or support them. Their policies and ideological assertions were anathema to what I believed. Some were incredibly corrupt, and some were misguided but not intentionally diabolical. I won’t give a list of names; that would be counterproductive.
I grew up in rural East Texas on a small family farm. We worked hard and played hard, not realizing that we were, as the phrase goes, ‘dirt poor.’ We never lacked food. We always had a warm and dry bed to sleep in. We had parents who disciplined us, provided for us, and, most importantly, loved us. They sought to teach us how to treat others, be grateful for what we had, not expect a free ride, and be patriotic. Most of my formative years were in the 50s and 60s. Times have certainly changed, and not all that change has been for the better.
We live in a world so full of hate that it is toxic and becoming dangerous to venture out, not knowing when some ideological crazy will go berserk or flip out when they know you disagree with their position morally, socially, politically, and even spiritually. We had differences when I was progressing toward adulthood, but we did not feel that those who disagreed should be eradicated. Today, eradicating those not of your ideological consortium seems the norm, not the exception. That is tragic, and as I reflect on the Christmas season, it becomes even more antithetical to what and who we should be.
The Bible and our founding documents present the ideal of harmonious living in a peaceful society by recognizing and allowing the individual’s inalienable rights to be enjoyed, pursued, and protected. Today’s political rhetoric and the actions of various activists are producing more infringement on those rights and pitting groups against each other in a cauldron of hate that the future of America often seems bleak. Why and How this became the current reality are answerable but complex. Although I have some theories, I will not attempt to answer those philosophical questions.
When I graduated from high school in May of 1965, I was an energetic eighteen-year-old seeking to make his mark on life. I had visions of grandeur and, in some ways, felt ten feet tall and bulletproof. I was, in my mind, wiser than my parents and teachers, and even my peers. Was that reality? Of course not, but it was my perception and was the reason for many of the decisions I made.
In October of that year, I answered the call of Uncle Sam and headed to boot camp and then, as fate would have it, to Vietnam in 1967. I have no desire to rehash or relive the events of that time in that country, but I reflect on something that caused me to appreciate home, family, America, and Christmas. I had views politically, but they were not solidified as they are today.
In 1966, my first Christmas away from home and family found me aboard a Navy ship off the coast of Acapulco. No, I did not get to go to that tourist delight, but I was miles offshore heading to San Diego, California, for embarkation to the Republic of Vietnam. As I stood on deck and observed the lights of that harbor, although I was with many others, I became incredibly lonely and asked myself, “What is the meaning of all this?” Even before reaching Vietnam, I had concluded that we were engaged in more of a political war driven by money than genuine concern about the freedom of the South Vietnamese people. I am neither anti-war nor anti-the Vietnam War, but my suspicions were confirmed. Christmas in a crowd but alone somewhat describes how many feel today in our unrest.
The following Christmas, 1967, was spent preparing to return home for my exit from the military and return to civil life and home. Again, I was with many others, yet the incredible loneliness overwhelmed me, and I wondered, “What is the meaning of all this?” I was trending more and more toward conservatism politically and became an adamant supporter of our Inalienable Rights. In the military, Freedom of Speech is not always allowed. You could think it, but you had better choose the time and place to say it.
I floundered in life after returning home and found adjusting to civilian life difficult. Few, if any, knew the inner turmoil inside my heart and mind. I did not want my family to be burdened with my unrest, although I’m sure they saw some of it. I contemplated a return to the military and even talked to a recruiter. I attended college with the aspiration of advancing in the organization in which I was working. My brother was advancing, and I envisioned a similar path. But the unrest continued to grow. Looking back, I was dissatisfied because of my spiritual void and because the America I believed I knew as a teenager was disappearing, which troubled me.
Through a series of events and some incredibly loving and determined people, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, which changed my worldview. For the first time in my life, I could see reason and purpose for my life. I saw the need for voices of warning and encouragement to be present in America. I did not enter politics, and I’m not unhappy with that decision. I entered the ministry, and I genuinely believe that I have had a greater impact than as a single voice in the political world. I learned to love genuinely for arguably the first time in my life.
What is my point? In the late 1960s, I still saw a world and an America that could disagree without becoming violent. I saw political parties as polar opposites, yet willing to allow the other side to voice an opinion and present their plan to the public for ratification or rejection. Today, that world no longer exists. If you stand for the Bible, Family, moral rightness, honesty, integrity, and earning your way, you are deemed by many as unworthy of breathing the air of our atmosphere. That is not relegated to one side of the political aisle. Hate has become the acceptable norm; some even turn on you if you do not voice their hatred, although they agree with the direction the nation needs to pursue.
What is my point? Christmas is the celebration of Love! The very celebration of the birth of Jesus has at its heart Love. God’s love for humanity, our love for God and others. If we would allow God to touch our hearts and realize that everyone doesn’t need to agree or hold exact ideological positions. Rather it is needful that we defend the right to believe what we believe but refuse to allow hate to rule in our hearts. Hate precludes any hope of finding a peaceful and workable solution to any problem. Hate seeks to destroy, whereas Love seeks to reconcile.
America, at this Christmas season, it is my prayer that we pause in our ideological wars and reflect on what America and we should be. We may never attain the condition in America we hope for, but we are doomed to fail if we do not stop hating. I hate sin but refuse to hate people. They are creations of God, and I will never cease praying for their salvation. The fix for America is in people, not politics. The fix for people is in God, not ideological agendas. Therefore, at this Christmas season, I say, “Merry Christmas, and may God’s Peace be realized on Earth.”
God bless you, and God bless America!