April 22, 2015
On a continuing basis I make an effort to assess my living in light of what I believe God desires of me. I recognize that oftentimes what He desires is communicated through other people. One major challenge is in recognizing when what people say agrees with the desires of God for me or when it does not agree with His desires.
My self-assessment process has been more intense over the past few weeks. There are a couple of primary reasons for this deeper scrutiny. First, I routinely receive email feedback from readers of my e-newsletters where I share thoughts on various topics and issues. Some of that feedback is, not surprisingly, attacking in tone and content. A recent writer took issue with one of my articles in the series titled “Great Politicians…Failing Leaders.” He declared me a “house nigger.” That is, according to his usage, a black man who does the bidding of white people. Given my conservative beliefs and forthright expression of those beliefs, this kind of response is rather routine and expected. However, given the seemingly angry tone of this email, I gave it far more thought than some other similar comments across the years. I emailed the writer, thanked him for his feedback and requested permission to publish his email. I did not hear from him again.
The second prompting to more than my usual reflection was an email from a writer whose point seemed to be that I was arrogant and should consider that my thinking might be in error. He reported chuckling when reading the background section of my newsletters that says “After all my years of living, there are some things I still do not fully understand.” His point being that there are only some things, as opposed to many, that I do not understand and that shows arrogance on my part. This email got my attention because I recognize that I aim to state my positions in an organized fashion supported by facts and intentionally avoid political correctness. In our time, such an approach is very likely viewed as arrogant if not downright evil.
So, where has this reflection, this more intense self-assessment, taken me? First (and this will probably come across as arrogant), I am asking myself why is it I even bother to share my thoughts on what seem to be the critical issues of our time? It is almost 2:00 AM on a Saturday morning and I have been in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina all week playing golf. My game is horrible but I love playing golf. I enjoy time with my wife and family and am at a point in life where I could spend extensive time with them, play golf, and just take it easy. Instead, I keep writing, and when given the opportunity, speaking about the challenging issues that face us and if not properly addressed will destroy America.
Why? It is because this is my calling from God and I will not be quiet. In response to a question from my wife, Denise, my father gave the clearest explanation I have ever heard of the power of God’s calling on a life. Daddy sacrificed financial income, brought harassment to his family, and put his very life at risk as a pastor, civil rights activist, and political candidate. In his senior citizen years during a hospital stay, Denise asked him if he thought he sacrificed too much. Daddy responded, “I simply tried to do what God called me to and I never had any trouble sleeping.” I have chosen to follow my father’s example.
The second piece of my reflection is to decide will I write and speak in a more pleasing and politically correct fashion. I think not. Pause and seriously consider the effectiveness of dialogue in America today. Choose any topic that is dramatically impacting the lives of Americans from illegal immigration to the economy, unemployment, the national debt, abortion, entitlement programs, socio-economic and racial divisions, terrorism…pick one. Is our discourse producing progress in any one of the areas you chose, even ones not listed here? I think not. In great part, this condition exists because we do not have open, honest, fact-based, rational discussions of the issues facing us as a nation and even as a world.
Yesterday on the golf course, a white fella asked to play golf with me. I agreed. I said to him, “My name is Karl, but because of my South Georgia accent it comes out like Tom.” He responded, “So, you are a Georgia boy.” He quickly changed it to, “You are a Georgia man.” I acknowledged what he said and left it alone. When we finished what was an enjoyable round filled with great conversation, I said to him, “I want you to know I did not have a problem with you calling me a Georgia boy. Please tell me why you felt the need to change it to man?” He said it was because I was a man and went on to explain that he would be referred to as a “South Carolina boy.” I told him I was concerned that he might have made that quick change to “man” because of the tremendous emphasis on race and racism in our country. This open and forthright exchange moved us to a productive and civil discussion of race in America.
I believe what happened on that golf course between a “South Carolina boy” and a “Georgia boy” is the kind of rational, forthright, factual discourse essential to saving this nation and even the world from coming apart at the seams. I hope this is the approach I am following in my writing and speaking.
Bottom line: I will always consider thoughtful rebuttal to my comments, but will not be intimidated into silence nor have my thinking controlled by public opinion or political correctness. I will forever be Karl Merritt…uncut.