The North Carolina Family Policy Council staff has a roundtable discussion where they each share something they love about America.
Our radio show for this week is going to be a very special offering from the North Carolina Family staff. We are going to talk a little bit about why we like being Americans, and the thing that we appreciate the most about living in America. So I think Eileen you wanted to start:
EILEEN BROWN: I’m Eileen Brown and I work with Constituent Services. The first thing that came to my mind when you asked me this question was, “I can vote.” You were all born American, but I chose to be American. I had lived here for quite a few years but then when I came to the Policy Council and saw how laws affected our lives as we live, I wanted a say in that. And I had never been able to have a say in that before because I left England before I was old enough to vote. And then I lived in South Africa where, obviously, I couldn’t vote. So when I came here and kind of understood how it all runs, I really wanted to have a say. One of the things that I do is, every time I vote, the little sticker they give you, I put it inside my wardrobe door at home. And I’ve got them all lined up. I’ve voted every single time since 2000, when I got my citizenship. And I’ve got them lined up right there next to the little stickers they give you when you go and visit your grandchildren when they’re born. So that shows you how important it is to me. So yes, voting is the first thing that comes to my mind as being an American.
CATHERINE STRICKLAND: My name is Catherine Strickland, I am the Administrator here and I think one of the things that popped in my mind first is I really appreciate the freedom that we have here in America. The freedom to be who we want to be, to be who I want to be, the freedom to do what I want to do, to go where I want to go, the freedom to worship, to make something of myself, or to just enjoy a simple life. I love that freedom. But what I love most about that freedom is that it comes with responsibility. Freedom without responsibility, I think, can lead to anarchy. So as an American, I appreciate that I have responsibilities that come with freedom—the responsibility to vote, which I really appreciate what Eileen had to say. And we have the responsibility to take care of one another, and I love that about America because we, as a country, just join in. That patriotism that inspires us so much, that’s what I love about America because we fulfill those responsibilities. And ultimately, our ultimate freedom is in Christ, and He gave us that freedom by sacrificing Himself. But even as a believer, we still have responsibilities in our freedom as well. And so, that’s what I appreciate about my freedom in America.
JERE ROYALL: Following up on what Catherine just shared, I’m Jere Royall, Director of Community Impact and Counsel. Thinking about freedom: Really since beginning my work here at the Family Policy Council, my favorite part of being an American has changed dramatically as I understand more and more the freedoms of conscience and speech, and most importantly the freedom of religion. Our work here each day has given me great appreciation for the wisdom that God gave our Founders when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all are created equal and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, including liberty, and the Constitution protecting freedom of religion and freedom of speech. This means for us and our work here that we’re free to find the truth about important issues and to communicate that truth through our emails, magazines, this radio show, and as we meet with elected official and other citizens to try to encourage the policies that are best for the citizens of this state and country. Freedom of conscience and speech and religion allow us to speak and write and be involved in the process to help make laws that honor God. And most importantly for us as Christians, as we’re involved, that people will see and hear Christ in us and be drawn to Him. I appreciate very much that God has placed us in a country where we have these freedoms that many people do not have in the world today and haven’t had throughout history. But like most things in life, I don’t really appreciate them as much until they are gone or being challenged, which is what we’re seeing today even in our country. So, I’m thankful to be part of a ministry helping defend and protect these freedoms
TRACI GRIGGS: I’m Traci Griggs, I’m Director of Communications here. And just building on what Jere had to say about our Founding Fathers, I think the more I read history, the more I realize how the conflicts we experience in our country are really designed to be those. We are supposed to fight, kind of, we’re supposed to fight for what we believe. We are supposed to wrestle with each other over what’s best for our country. Change is supposed to come slowly. There are just a lot of things that we experience today that I think we become alarmed about because it seems like our legislative process, our Congress, moves so slowly. But when you look back and you read how our Constitution and our balance of powers was designed, you realize we’re suppose to be like this. Now I don’t think it needs to be as vitriolic, but it is nice to know that this is the process, this is the way it’s supposed to work.We are supposed to wrestle with these problems in the public square. It’s the way that it was designed. And so that’s very encouraging to me that things are still working the way they’re supposed to be working.
JAKE SIPE: I am Jake Sipe, I am the Communications Associate, and Traci kind of stole a lot of what I was going to say! But I think the idea of conflict and pressure in the political system is something that I always appreciated. I had a teacher in high school who had this really kind of amazing way of explaining it. Apparently James Madison, when he was—James Madison, of course, was the Father of the Constitution—and when he was in college, he was fascinated by the design of the planets and the way in which the pressure kept the planets in order. And if you think about it, it’s these magnificent forces that are pushing up against one another that keep our planets in orbit. He was fascinated by that design and that idea of conflicting interests going up against one another and keeping everything in place. I think is something that’s incredibly important to keep in mind, especially in today’s world. Like Traci was saying, basically the conflicts that we’re experiencing are not apocalyptic. They’re designed to be in place, and both sides being in conflict with one another is part of the system, and it’s an important part of the American system. And so that’s what I honestly enjoy about being an American is the diversity and the design that the Founders had of giving us the ability to have such diverse beliefs but still being in a stable system, which I think is something that is unique in the history of the world.
A lot of people today argue about, or are upset about, our government not being efficient. If you think about it, the most efficient form of government is a dictatorship. I mean, someone says something and it gets done. Our system is designed to be inefficient. And if you think about the Founders and the way they designed it: of course, you have the separation of powers with the Executive branch; the Legislative branch; and the Judicial branch. Actually, a fun fact for history nerds: the original Supreme Court had six members. So even in their design of the Supreme Court, they wanted ties to occur. They encouraged conflict. And not only do you have the separation of powers between the federal branches of government, but you have the separate sovereign states that have independent sovereignty as well. So if you think about our system, it’s designed to breed conflict. It’s designed to bring about compromise. And so that’s an incredibly important aspect of the American system, which I think is—it can be both brutal and also beautiful.
THOMAS GRAHAM: I’m Thomas Graham, and I’m blessed and honored to be the Pastor Outreach Director. And today my thoughts about what’s so especially amazing in this great country of ours is the beauty that we see everywhere. I’ll start with the beauty of our flag. Every time I look at our flag up on a large stage next to other flags, I’m proud to be able to look at our flag and say, “That’s my flag!” And I believe that flag, the colors, were inspired by our God, our Creator, many years ago. I’ve had the privilege of traveling this wonderful country of ours and everywhere I go, I just marvel at how good God has been to this nation, to this people, to give us such beauty, not only in the landscape, but also in the people themselves. To think of the variety of people who are here with us, sharing this great space, is just remarkable. And as I think about it, that wonderful song, America the Beautiful, comes to mind: “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain. America, America, God shed His grace on thee and crowned thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” That’s my prayer, that’s my desire. And I’m sure it’s a shared desire by all of us sitting at this table today and those out there in the listening audience. God bless, and God bless the great country of America.
JOHH RUSTIN: I’m John Rustin, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, and it’s been great to hear from everyone. It occurs to me that it’s often referred to that America is the “land of opportunity,” and I think for me, that’s one thing that really touches my heart is the opportunities that we have in this nation. As I was thinking about this discussion, the thing that came most to my mind is that you sometimes don’t really know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I had the privilege of going on a short-term mission trip this summer with my daughter and my son to Guatemala. And we worked with a ministry in Guatemala City that ministers to the people that literally live in and around the city landfill, the dump, in Guatemala. It was amazing to experience that perspective of extreme poverty and the lack of opportunity that many people there have and the fact that there are some families that have lived in the dump for four generations. Literally, they have been living and existing off of scavenging the dump for recyclable materials, anything of value, even food. And to contrast that with the incredible opportunities that we have here in America is just incredible. It is striking also that so often we feel destitute and desperate and despondent because of what’s going on in our nation, economically, politically and otherwise, but when we visited these families and these individuals in Guatemala, there were many people of deep faith who were joyful, who were faithful, and who were even generous in the midst of extreme poverty. And to contrast that with the response of some folks here in America to the incredible opportunities that we have, was really stark. And so that’s really a great appreciation that I have as I think about this question, as I think about the value of America, is that God really has blessed our nation. And as believers in that blessing, I think it’s incumbent upon us all to act in a grateful way with great confidence and great joy, great love and great truth, that we would be examples of that blessing to our brothers and sisters across this nation. So I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with each one of you, and for our listening audience, I think you can hear the hearts and the diversity that we’re fortunate to have here at the North Carolina Family Policy Council. And are excited to have this opportunity to have this discussion amongst ourselves and to share that with you all. I know you often hear from one or two of us and our guests as we have our discussions weekly, but thought this would be a neat insight into the staff of the Family Policy Council and where we’re coming from, and why we appreciate this land that we’re so fortunate to live in.
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