By Joe Rector

I watched the U.S. women’s soccer team work their magic and claim the world championship before the first half was over. The stadium was filled with ecstatic fans who had dressed in their creative costumes and waved  flags as they chanted, “USA! USA!”

Saturday evening was filled with flashes of light and booms galore as families and friends gathered to enjoy the July 4th  festivities. Many folks dodged rain and storms to spend time on the water or in the back yard. The day once again proved to be a true celebration of this country and the freedoms that it offers.

With such a grand display of celebration in so many places throughout this country and neighboring ones, I wondered just what in the heck is wrong with us. Our schizophrenic behavior worries me. Just a couple of weeks before the big holiday, a maniacal, evil-spirited person sat with others in a Bible study for an hour before executing them. His acts were fueled by an intense hate for black people. How in the world could he have filled his heart with so much hate in so few years of life?

In other parts of the country, a return to the burning of black churches has occurred. Speculation is that individuals who despise another race of humans are hell-bent on causing as much grief and pain for them as possible. What makes them hate others so much?

The Supreme Court passed down a decision that okays same-sex marriages. Scores of supporters marched in parades of celebration. Those opposed declared that the court had lost its moral compass and should never have given its blessing to such a horrible thing. They are the same people who earlier praised the court for more conservative decisions.

The country is divided by political ideology. Half of the citizens despise the current president. In their vitriol, claims of President Obama’s affiliation with the Muslim religion and his lack of citizenship fill the air. Many have said he’s the worst president that has ever held office and that he is leading our country to ruin.

All in all, it appears a couple of days after this latest Fourth Celebration that our country is in sore need of a bit more patriotism and a lot less partisan politics and hate mongering. No, I’m not talking about caving in to things that people can’t accept. Instead, I’m suggesting that each of us learn what tolerance is. While I might not like one bit what another person or group believes or does, I owe it to them and to this country to be tolerant. Yes, I can express my opposing views on any topic, but that opposition should never include acts of violence or attacks on character.

This country was established by people of all sorts of nationalities and philosophies. Some wanted to remain tied to England’s apron strings while others insisted that the country determine its own path. Throughout the years, the rich history of the U.S. has been created by persons of all races and religious beliefs. We’ve managed to look passed those things while praising the contributions they made.

Again, no one has to approve of another’s actions or beliefs. However, none of us is given the right to judge others. If I’ve read my Bible correctly, Jesus told those who were without sin to cast the first stone. So, I suspect that God-fearing people would never condemn people who think differently.

July 4th was another spectacular day for Americans. We celebrated what this country symbolizes: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t mean “as long as you think like me.” We face many challenges in the years to come. Some of them arise from forces that are set on destroying our way of life. Those are the ones we should set our sights on corralling. That means the time has come to quit attacking our own. Let’s decide this year that we will do those things that lead to all of us chanting, “USA! USA!”