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A New Spirit

February 17, 2002

A few days ago, our mail-person, Debbie, stopped to chat as she delivered our mail. She related an amazing incident that we both agreed would not have taken place prior to The Day Everything Changed.

Debbie and several dozen bystanders observed a woman accidentally smash her car into another vehicle so hard that it damaged two others. There were no injuries, but considerable damage to the three vehicles. The woman quickly put her car into reverse and attempted to flee the scene. She must have been shocked to find a dozen people running alongside her car yelling at her to stop. Two bystanders blocked the exit from the parking lot with their cars, forcing the woman to wait for the arrival of police.

Contrast that with the many incidents of citizen non-involvement in major cities over the last ten years. We’ve all seen the news stories about people being assaulted, raped and even murdered as neighbors looked on. Asked why they didn’t even pick up a phone and dial "911," the onlookers often replied, "We didn’t want to get involved."

The contrast makes me think about Cain’s question to God in the Book of Genesis regarding Abel: "Am I my brother’s keeper?" Sort of a King James version of the smart-aleck response, "It’s not my week to watch him." I mention this because I often hear people say, "I’m not my brother’s keeper." In other words, "I mind my own business, I do my own thing, and other people’s problems are theirs, not mine."

But in fact we are (or should be) our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. That was once the spirit of this nation, because ours was a nation based on Biblical principles of love and responsibility. We watched out for each other, we got involved. If someone was in trouble, we helped, even at the risk of our own lives and safety.

People older than I may have a different perspective on this, but my observation is that a huge shift took place in the sixties with the emergence of the "Me" generation. Altruism was out, introspection was in. "Personal fulfillment" became more important than marriage and the responsibilities that went with it. It became fashionable, almost heroic, to abandon one’s spouse and children if the excuse was, "I need to find myself." Encounter groups, self-actualization, EST, all focused on Me, Me, Me. "They" could take care of themselves.

During this Dark Age of the American spirit, there were still many people who reached out to others, who got involved, who considered others before themselves. There were heroes who risked life and limb to save others. But in general, selflessness has been a foreign concept to Americans. The attacks on 9/11 seem to have changed that for many of our citizens.

There have been many examples of this new spirit, which is really a return of what we once called the American spirit. The first occurred just minutes after the dual attacks on the World Trade Center. We will never know all the details, but the passengers on United Flight #93 probably reacted passively at first to the hijacking. But upon hearing of the two planes that the terrorists crashed in New York City, they quickly went into action and averted a massive disaster in Washington, D.C. Shortly after that, when a man threatened the driver of a Greyhound bus with a knife, he was overwhelmed by other passengers.

More recently a store clerk reported a man who purchased nine identical teddy bears, canisters of propane gas, and hundreds of bee-bee pellets. Others reported a van load of Olympics-bound people who were asking numerous, specific questions about security arrangements in Salt Lake City. The man who made the suspicious purchases has not been located as of this writing. The van was checked and found to contain only curious tourists. But the fact that people were willing to go out of their way to get involved is encouraging.

We live in perilous times. Our nation, our way of life, and our values are all under attack. The answer is not to steal our civil liberties and our privacy by hiding cameras everywhere, snooping in our email or establishing a national ID card. The answer is for Americans who love their country to fan the small flame of this newly rediscovered spirit we see. If our enemies see an America united, a people who care about one another, a citizenry that is willing to die to defend freedom, they will think twice before attacking.

A little-known fact about World War II is that the Japanese had detailed plans to attack our West Coast. The Japanese High Command trashed those plans when they learned that most American homes had at least one firearm, and that we wouldn’t hesitate to use them if attacked. (Admiral Yamamoto has been quoted as saying, "There is a marksman behind every blade of grass." That wasn’t true, but the fact that he believed it to be true saved thousands of American lives.) The Japanese went ahead with plans to invade other nations which had neither the means nor the will to resist them, conquering all of them.

The American spirit has been lost for a while. Political correctness, liberal jurists, lying journalists and perverted Hollywood types have all contributed to its loss. It’s nice to see it back.

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Copyright ©2002 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

He has written thousands of articles that have been republished in national newspapers and on hundreds of websites, and is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His weekly Conservative Truth article (which is read by 250,000) offers a unique viewpoint on social, moral and political issues from a Biblical worldview. This has resulted in invitations to speak internationally at churches, conferences, Money Shows, universities, and on TV (including the 700 Club).

“Dr. Tom,” as his readers and followers affectionately refer to him, has a passion for teaching, as you can see from his ministry website (www.ChristianFinancialConcepts.com); his patriotic site (www.ConservativeTruth.org); and his business site (www.GoldenArtTreasures.com). Tom's friend Dr. Lance Wallnau wrote of him, "Tom Barrett is a Renaissance man with a passion for subject matter ranging from finance to theology and American history."
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