Well, here we go!

The helmet is awkward, the shoulder pads are too big for the armor, and I can’t pick up a thing wearing boxing gloves. However, I am ready to protect myself from the ruckus, chaos, and uncertainty of 2024.   

As I stumble around the kitchen in my protective garb, I recall those election years when all mainly seemed normal, when it was our civic duty and honor to vote without fear of retaliation or conflict.    

I recall casting my first vote after graduating high school, where Miss Owen taught the required Government course in my senior year. Boy, understanding government before you select someone to govern is a blessing. Perhaps I wouldn’t have to wear boxing gloves if more people studied what Miss Owen directed us to learn.

America was built on the backs of unified bravery. We stood firm through wars, terrorism, diseases, financial collapses, racism, and social woes. We endured many problems but advanced, changed, grew, and prospered because we cherished freedom more than trouble. 

This year, I do not wear armor to protect me from a foreign enemy, disease, or the economy. It is not racism, diversity, or immigration that will doom America. What we will need to fight for is our integrity and civility. The blows leveled upon America by the lack of respect toward each other will be our demise. 

If you listen to the candidates running for office today or tune in to the halls of Congress, what do you hear? Sure, the old promises are still there, but the brutal attacks, demeaning jokes, threats, and vitriolic verbiage used are like never before. 

The lack of civility exhibited by some government leaders is nothing short of un-American.  The political power struggles and tactics employed between our political parties and many of those representing them should be shameful to all. Encouraging division to gain power is undermining the American spirit. 

Many folks exuberantly applaud the nasty rhetoric, laugh at the cruel jokes, and overlook today’s unacceptable behavior. When winning is more important than how we run a race, what does it say about our culture and character? If true, we no longer deserve God’s grace and are no longer America, the beautiful.  

We all want to support our choice of leaders, but we must respect the values and rights of others without condemnation. To disparage another because we disagree with their choice of leadership or policy is not appreciative of a democracy based on individual rights and freedoms. 

When an honorable character is no longer critical, and actions have no consequences, then take a match to our Constitution. At that point, we don’t deserve to have one. 

Our nation has historically embraced the power of God. What do you think will happen when influential people have no fear of God and folks turn away from His words and laws?   Rome fell, Germany fell, and heralded leaders toppled because the power of God was stronger than the will of a nation, its leaders, or its people. 

Folks who believe they are “right” are committing wrongful acts. Many are terrorizing those who differ from them, threatening their families, and using physical and mental means to do so. They are the bullies of our world. And no one loves a bully but the bullies. Unfortunately, too many of us turn away, ignoring the situation, until the day the tyrant wins.

My family and many of you heard these words when we were kids: “Don’t engage in cruelty.  Don’t bully, and don’t follow one. Don’t disrespect your elders, teachers, or God.   Converse, don’t shout, and never take the easy way out. Kindness will open doors, and meanness will trap you inside. Walk a mile in another’s shoes to understand compassion.” 

If we use today what we learned as children, our children will avoid disillusionment with our nation or us.

When I was a child, if I were discourteous and behaved rudely in public, Mom would pinch me where no one could see her do so. Sometimes, we learn the hard way to act in a better way. It was part of our maturing into decent folks.   

Where has much of the decency gone? I didn’t know it could fade away by following people who never were pinched.

America is torn and tired of political rhetoric without substance but laced with fear, power, and blame. Most Americans desire our government to reflect sound policies and lead with honor.  

Here we go to 2024! May we be reminded as we march onward that integrity, civility, and respect for one another are the armor we need for America to shine as that indivisible nation under God.   


Lynn Walker Gendusa is a Georgia author and columnist. Her latest book is “Southern Comfort: Stories of Family, Friendship, Fiery Trials, and Faith.” She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com. For more of her inspirational stories, click here.

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