By Dr. Jim Ferguson

One my travel axioms (sayings) is, “Get on a plane, rent a car and you can see the world.” Having visited four continents and after a dozen sojourns in Europe, my wanderlust has dissipated, but not gone altogether. The picture above is a view of snow capped Mount Hood on landing approach to Portland, Oregon where we’ve come to see our newest grandchild, Rita and her family. I promise some new travel pics and reflections in early 2019 because I’ve talked Becky into an adventurous cruise around the tip of South America. I have asked Mr. Hunley, publisher of The Focus, for a travel budget, but he has yet to get back with me.

This morning, Becky asked me about plans for the day ahead with Rita’s sister, Cleo, my daughter and son-in-law, Matt. I told her anything is fine because I don’t rush to be somewhere any longer; I’m already there. Perhaps this perspective is why my wanderlust has dissipated.

For a long time, a poem by Edna St. Vincent Miley articulated my traveling/wandering perspective:

“How shall I know, unless I go

To Cairo and Cathay,

Whether or not this blessèd spot

Is blest in every way?

Now it may be, the flower for me

Is this beneath my nose;

How shall I tell, unless I smell

The Carthaginian rose?”

I have stood on the ancient ruins of Hannibal’s Carthage, but at this stage in my life-journey I don’t yearn for Cairo or Cathay. I am blessed to know I’m where I am supposed to be. Through all my travels I have never found any place I wanted to live except in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. The Psalmist spoke of this same perspective of time and place when he said, “This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24)

As a result of posting this essay from another world, Becky and I did not watch any midterm election results. We keep a low profile in Portland where you can count the number of conservatives on two hands. Interestingly, east of Mt. Hood and the Cascade Mtn. Range, Oregon is a conservative “red” state. The same situation now exists all over “the divided states of America,” where large urban areas (and the media) are “blue” and rural areas and the majority of American counties are “red.” We’ll see if Trump and Pelosi can work together in the spirit of bipartisanship as they now promise. I hope our leaders can work for America instead of party for a change. I expect nothing but hatred from the media exemplified by CNN’s Jim Acosta and the radical left.

Surprisingly, Portland and Knoxville have similar weather, despite different latitudes. This is because the Japan Current warms the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. Portland is much larger than Knoxville, but since it is made up of numerous smaller neighborhoods and communities it doesn’t feel like a big city except on the interstate and in the downtown. We try to avoid those areas when we visit.

Travel expands your horizons and often challenges your perspectives. Just because I see the world as a Tennessean doesn’t mean that a fellow American from Oregon sees the world similarly. This midterm election proved that Tennessee is a conservative state and Knoxville is an enclave of the same. Tennesseans did their part in the election. At the same time two thirds of Oregonians voted to keep Oregon a sanctuary state. This, despite a terrible homeless problem in Portland with drugs, danger, neighborhood theft and buses which smell of urine. Perhaps on a future visit we’ll discover that Portland has become the San Francisco of the Pacific Northwest.

Many predicted that the November midterm election would be about the Kavanaugh hearing, the caravan/illegal immigration issue and the booming economy. Obviously, many Americans see the world differently than me. Several Democrat Senators were defeated as a result of the Kavanagh debacle, but the economy was not a big issue, perhaps because half of Americans pay no federal income tax and receive government largess paid for by others. Americans apparently like “free stuff.” And illegal immigration/invasion proceeds at a record pace. We’ll see if we have the will to build the wall to control our borders and remain a sovereign nation.

Perhaps the midterm elections were more about local issues than a national referendum on the Trump revolution. Midterm elections often swing away from the party in power, and twice as many Republican congressmen than Democrats decided not to run for re-election. I find it disturbing that historically 98% of incumbents are reelected. I am in favor of term limits for Congress and perhaps time appointments for judges. Americans of all stripes are fed up with politians and their hollow promises. Republicans did not govern as Republicans and have now been turned out. It’s only fitting that we have divided power in the Congress because we have a divided nation.

As I looked out the window the morning after the election I didn’t see anything different. I felt the same as I drove to work the morning after Obama was elected in 2008. The Founders constructed our government with a balance of powers, where change, either way, is slow. I see the wisdom in this. Obama sought radical changes and now with Trump the pendulum swings back the other way. Life goes on and so does America even as insanity roils on the fringes of the body politic.

In 1517 a priest attached suggestions for reform within the Catholic Church on the door of the Wittenberg cathedral. These suggestions would spark what would later be called the Reformation, and within a decade the order of a 1000 years was torn asunder. The priest’s name was Martin Luther and he was put on trial for his life in 1521 at the Imperial Diet in Worms. Arrayed against him was the power of a vast theocracy. In his closing defense he said, “To go against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

Luther was principled and wise. I pray that our leaders have the same convictions. If reason and conscience, rather than power and party, are the driving forces behind their decisions and those of citizens and believers, we’ll be OK, and we will Make America Great Again.