It's been a rough time for America.
Social media, the internet, and television have been swarming with confrontation and divisiveness. Unhelpful rhetoric is everywhere on the political stage. We haven't seen America at its best, that's for sure.
And on top of the strife, many of us feel anxious as we slowly emerge from our COVID-19 cocoons.
As we approach America's big day on the Fourth of July, what can possibly help us, as a nation, begin to heal?
My suggestion? 'Stop! Fire up the grill, and flip some burgers!'
It's America's birthday on July Fourth -- and we need to stop and remind ourselves why this nation, in spite of its warts, is still the best place in the world to live.
The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate America -- and look to the future with the optimism that we, as one people, have historically embraced since the birth of our country. This year, in particular, is also an opportunity to listen, to reach out to people who aren't like us, and to bind wounds.
Jesus gave us the perfect example when He spoke with a Samaritan woman at the well. She was different from him. Even his closest companions were surprised to see him talking with her.
But it didn't matter.
He saw beyond the generations of angst, the unfair judgments, and the risk of rebuke or ridicule.
He still doesn't judge based on differences. He's not impressed by human heritage or national origin. He doesn't belong to a political party. He just wants a real, personal connection with each and every person -- regardless of appearance, social standing, politics, or background.
On our nation's birthday, this should be our quest, too. We should each seek a meaningful, affirming dialog with someone different from us.
Perhaps you already have that person in mind. Someone down the street? A co-worker you've never really had a conversation with? Even someone who attends your church, but with whom you've never moved beyond pleasantries? Now is the time to have that dialog -- and, most importantly, to stop and listen.
While I'm not so naive as to think that flipping burgers will solve the complex issues we are facing as a people, I am hopeful that each of us would do something if we knew what we could do.
Let's stop finger-pointing and grilling each other -- and, instead, enjoy the grill together.
Embrace 'Different,' Join The Healing Wave
At Trail Life USA we want to see America come together because we believe God is grieved by our hesitancy to embrace Americans who are "different" from us. It doesn't require us to agree with them or compromise our own values or convictions, but it does open us all up to the type of connections Jesus lived and died for.
That's why this Fourth of July weekend we've launched the first-ever nationwide Backyard Cookout and Campout for Independence Day. And we're inviting families across all 50 states to turn this event into a new "American revolution" of respect and kindness, reaching out to neighbors and others outside their family and usual social circle.
Will you be part of the great wave of national healing that needs to take place on America's big day? Whatever your position on any of the challenging issues of our day, will you invite a neighbor who is different from you to join your July Fourth cookout? As lockdown restrictions in your area are eased, will you remove all the barriers -- and share a hamburger or hotdog in friendship?
Fire up the grill, reach out in friendship and -- if your local authorities allow you to hold a small backyard gathering with appropriate social distancing -- be a part of America's healing wave this Fourth of July weekend.
There's more to it than hotdogs, hamburgers, and the red, white and blue.
The heart and soul of our nation could be at stake.
Mark Hancock is the CEO of Trail Life USA, a Christian boys’ character development organization, with 30,000 members in 830-plus troops across all 50 states. The organization is staging its first-ever Independence Day Backyard Cookout and Campout on July 3-4, open to every family in America. Go to www.TrailLifeUSA.com/backyard for details.
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