Patty and I were having dinner last weekend with some dear friends of ours. We were at a nice restaurant, enjoying a good meal, having a great conversation about all that was going on in the country.
Of course, we talked about the mid-term elections. The American people spoke clearly at the polls: The government has to tighten its belt. Government spending must be cut.
That's all well and good, I told my friend. But, as I discuss in today's Two-Minute Warning commentary, which you can find at ColsonCenter.org, I'm not so sure the American people understand the implications of what that really means. What's going to happen when the American people realize that THEY are the ones who are going to have to make some sacrifices?
That's exactly the question the staffer of a senator I know asked me recently: Did I think, for example, the country is ready and willing to face cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare?
The answer, as I told my friend at dinner, is that I don't know if Americans have the intestinal fortitude to make painful sacrifices. What happens when the government cuts school funding, and a program your child participates in gets the axe? What happens when the government recommends that a facility in your community gets eliminated — along with the jobs that go with it?
Do we complain or defend our place at the trough? Do we take to the streets in protest, like the rioters in Athens and Paris? Or do we look around us and see what we can do to make our common life in this country better?
When I finished explaining my thoughts, my friend looked at me across the table and said: "Those are good points, Chuck. But don't forget: There are men and women today who are fighting for us, and they're almost off our radar screens. Nobody in this restaurant has even thought about them during dinner."
He paused. He was right.
"Look, Chuck," he said, "While we go about our daily lives, while we pursue our self-indulgent lifestyles, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are sacrificing their time, safety and sometimes their lives to keep us safe. And nobody ever thinks of them."
He's absolutely, 100-percent right.
But ... on Veterans Day, we would do well, actually, we would do very well, to remember those men and women and their sacrifices.
But I have another suggestion. Maybe it's time we sacrificed a little for our veterans and their families. For instance, if your neighbor is a young mother with a husband serving overseas, I hope you're offering to babysit for her so she can run errands and go to doctor appointments.
Maybe you can hold a fundraiser, as many communities are doing, to buy equipment a wounded warrior needs to make his or her life a bit easier.
Visit or volunteer at a veterans' home or hospital, and bring holiday gifts.
Do some research. Find veterans organizations that do good work for vets and their families and make a donation.
But most of all, spend a little time getting to know these folks, and you will have a richer appreciation of the sacrifices they have made — sacrifices we all have got to be willing to emulate.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: November 10, 2010