CHRISTMAS EVE, 2017
Washington DC is the seat of our nation, and Sondra and I live here. Founded on the separation of “church and state,” the USA has traditionally bred a tolerant people when it comes to religious beliefs and practices. FREEDOM has been the call of the American Ideal, not the dogmas of an assumed “salvation” from the organized religions of various denominations and faiths. Even the FREEDOM to be an “atheist” is protected by this Ideal. FREEDOM has also been sought in the spiritual truths of the wise from time immemorial as well. We are egalitarian in our embrace of cross cultural wisdom and historical lessons and benefits, with a strong sense of education of our people.
However, we have not always lived up to the FREEDOM principle. In fact, many of the founding fathers of the USA were slave owners. It took a great Civil War to correct that error, followed by a great Civil Rights battle to actually apply the equality to the downtrodden. And we did not treat the Native Americas all that well either. So there are shadows in our past, and now the shadows of “terrorism” and economic domination, media hype and government surveillance get us to question how “free” we actually are.
DO GOVERNMENTS REALLY BESTOW TRUE FREEDOM? An atmosphere of free trade and opportunity is prevalent in the USA from shore to shore. Free information on the internet, etc. The successful entrepreneur is still the one at the top of this opportunity “food chain.” Creativity applied to meeting needs is rewarded. There are also those who still go for the gusto to grab all they can get. Greed is often a factor. And the “gold rush” energy is still an underlying principle that gives people a sense of striking it rich on the wave of hard work and good luck. All goes well for natural abilities applied to ingenuity that produces what people want to buy. Can one “buy” FREEDOM, though?
What about “IN GOD WE TRUST” that is printed on our money? Are these just empty words? Yes, there is a “gold rush” energy that exists in America, and too often justifies the side effects of greed that leave a trail of debris, both human and natural consequences behind. But even in the “separation of church and state,” there is an underlying TRUST that can only be met by FORCES beyond our knowing and control. We beseech the “GOOD” with this TRUST. The GOOD in us, and the GOOD in our fellow men. We somehow see FREEDOM in the love we have for each other, and the general “keeping of our brothers” from harm we would desire to escape ourselves.
On this Christmas Eve of 2017, I think about TRUSTING GOD. It is a necessary Thought. And of the human beings who most embraced this TRUST, we know them now to be the saints, the seers, the saviors and the lovers of humanity. This is why we remember this day. It is not just for giving a plethora of material gifts and presents that support the economies of the American retail machine, and make us happy to “get more neat stuff.” It is to remember one man, The CHRIST, who TRUSTED GOD and LOVED PEOPLE more than most, if not uniquely more than anyone else in his own RIGHT. I honor Him. I honor Him through painting Him in my own way. This one I painted in Perth, Australia just a few weeks ago. It is in the care of one of our students, Melissa Hughes in Perth, who is also aware of this basic human question, and declaration, “IN GOD WE TRUST.”