We complain about overspending by Congress, but the average American household is spending 103 percent of its income.
We complain about the rising debt level, but the typical American is increasingly in debt (and that is even mirrored in our churches, which are increasingly in debt).
We complain about the culture of entitlement, but the typical American has an “entitlement” attitude (just watch the way people drive over the speed limit, cut off others in lanes, and ignore simple traffic rules — all of that reflects an attitude that says “I am entitled to break the rules that I don’t like.”).
We complain about the rising cost of health care, but most Americans are overweight, out of shape, and in poor health by virtue of lifestyle choices.
We complain that the politicians are not able to work together, but Americans seem to be more and more disagreeable and unruly (If you don’t believe that, just go to a Little League baseball game and watch the behavior of the parents. Or watch a local school board meeting and listen to the inability of people to listen politely to those with whom they disagree. Or you can even see that unruly behavior in some church meetings.).
We complain that our government too quickly resorts to the use of violence and unauthorized force, but our whole culture is becoming more violent as witnessed by the violent video games we allow our children to play and as witnessed by the shootings and crime in both our cities and our rural areas.
My point is this: We can complain about the government, but we get the government we deserve. We get the government we elect. We get the government that reflects the unhealthy trends in our whole American society.
What is the answer? I believe it is to be honest about the nature of human sin (a word which we seldom use, even in church). We have to confess that we all are the root of the problems we see in Washington. We have to quit destroying good and decent people who run for office. We have to elect people who reflect the “higher” American values. And we have to pray that God will forgive us for choosing the government we deserve.
God bless America is more than a bumper sticker or a political slogan. It is a prayer for help. And we need God’s help in the midst of this mess in Washington, in Indianapolis, and in every town and village in the U.S.
Bishop Michael Coyner is Indiana bishop of the United Methodist Church.