In a suburban Pennsylvanian elementary school, a group of third-graders were gathered to do something they never got to do at school before — watch television! The squirmy bunch was seated on the tiled floor, absorbing more the chilliness of the ground than what was going on at the TV set. The apparent letdown of the program not being cartoons weighed heavily on the room, just like the cold, wet blanket of January outside. What seemed like forever, the boring show finally ended and the group was marched off to do something more interesting, such as math.
What this class didn’t realize, and what I didn’t realize as one of those third-graders, is that we had just watched a wonderful, historic event. We had just witnessed the inauguration of a new President — Ronald Reagan. President Reagan went on to lead the United States into an unprecedented era of American success in world affairs, in staring down and defeating the communist Soviet Union, in reaching into outer space, in blooming economic growth, and in a national Christian resurgence. No matter the challenge, history will remember the 1980s Reagan years as a sort of “Golden Age” in being an American.
Twenty-eight years later, my eldest son is the third-grader, and he is the one watching the historic inauguration of Barack Obama at his elementary school. How will he look back years later and remember the era President Obama had led the United States in?
For starters, like every other modern third-grader, he’s probably wishing the television had a controller attached for the latest Wii game. Driving a Mario Kart is far more entertaining than all those old people hanging out in Washington D.C., he must be thinking.
Unlike me at 8 years old, my son does have a better sense of the historic nature of this inauguration. With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day occurring just yesterday, a holiday that didn’t even exist when I was a kid, he knows that the election of an African-American to the office of President is the fulfillment of a dream to see black Americans have and achieve every right as their white countrymen. Barack Obama’s election not only fulfills that dream, but gives every American hope that we can be better than we were by overcoming what divides us. Because of this achievement, President Obama is getting off to a wonderful start in defining his era of leadership.
Three decades since Ronald Reagan was sworn in, the United States is very much a different country, though. The problems President Obama will lead us through are as great and as grave as those that faced the nation upon the onset of the Civil War, the Great Depression and the wars of the 20th Century.
But, these problems hold a world of difference. For one, the nation is financially bankrupt; the “Material Girl” becoming an indentured servant to hostile nations for loans in the pointless attempt to stave off paying what is ultimately due. Secondly, we’re in an unwinnable war against the militaristic Muslim ideology held by 1.3 billion people, millions of which are American citizens. Thirdly, the level of patriotism Americans have is at such an all-time low and our ideology so deeply divided that our country may cede “the farm” at the best offer that comes by, giving up our Constitution and way of life to be a member of the world community. And fourthly, our nation is now post-Christian, not holding to “in God we trust,” but instead looking to the wisdom of man in seeking moral guidance and coming up instead with moral ambiguity.
President Obama has to lead the United States in finding solutions to these almost unconquerable problems. Will he be remembered as coming up with the right solutions, though? He has made known his answers to these problems. Will his resurrection of the “New Deal” to combat the economic catastrophe by creating 4.1 million new government jobs and burgeoning the national debt to $6 trillion dollars reinstitute trust and stability in the American economy and pay off the debt? Will he be able to stem the rising tide of subtle Islamic takeover by sitting down and talking Muslim leaders into submission? Will he reawaken American patriotism by ending capitalism, implementing socialism, and ushering us in as a member state of a larger world government? And, will he point our moral compass back to God’s laws and statutes by endorsing all that God calls evil? If President Obama institutes his suggested solutions, it is not too difficult to anticipate the results.
But, we as a nation are no longer looking to God for the answers, and without the One who knows how all things work properly, we cannot succeed. Lessons from the Bible teach us that our nation needs to learn stewardship, self-control, thrift, savings and the responsibility of paying off our debts. We need to win the Muslim to Christ by sharing the Good News with them all. We can return the self-respect and patriotism of our nation by having some self-respect of our own by doing what is morally right. And most importantly, we as a nation must repent of our sins, toss out every evil deed that we do, and call on God and His son Jesus Christ to guide us once more.
All Americans should want the President to succeed. I want him to succeed. I want my children growing up in a nation where they have a good future ahead of them. I want my son to remember the Obama years as a great era of American national spiritual revival, when we got back on the right track. I pray our children and our Heavenly Father will not be disappointed.