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A Letter to America, not the President

I have read a number of letters to our new president, but I have yet to read a single letter to the American people. We might do well to remember the fate of the country is not entirely in his hands, but ours as well ¦

Recently, periodicals from Reader’s Digest to Sojourners have published “letters” to our new president. These letters are authored by various luminaries from the fields of government, education, religion and so on.

I wonder if the new president sees or reads any of these letters, or if they are like letters to Santa Claus that end up in the dead letter box at the North Pole. In all events, I have read a number of letters to our new president, but I have yet to read a single letter to the American people.

We might do well to remember the fate of the country is not entirely in his hands, but ours as well ¦

Dear America,

As our nation welcomes President Barack Obama to office, please remember the following:

  • Pray for the president. To pray for the president is a sacred duty, mandated by Scripture, and does not bow to partisan loyalties. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul writes, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, especially for kings and all who are in high positions.” Pray for the president to have the wisdom and strength to fulfill his oath of office.
  • Respect the president. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the president, likes or dislikes him, he occupies the highest office in the land and has enormous responsibility on his shoulders. He is due our respect and gratitude. The unseemly display of some on the Washington mall as President and Mrs. Bush departed by helicopter did not reflect well on our country.
  • Understand that for people of color, the election of President Barack Obama is an enormous step forward. Millions of Americans now feel a part of the political process in a way they did not before. Patriotism is surging in new sectors of the populace. Such enthusiasm for America is a good thing.
  • Remain (or become) an informed, engaged citizenry. Democracy demands spirited debate about the best course forward. From the halls of Congress to the letters to the editor in the local paper, Americans need to test and sharpen the proposals for addressing the pressing problems before us.
  • Accept responsibility for your own fate and family. Strive to be a positive, proactive force in shaping your own destiny. There are limits to what government can do. As Benjamin Franklin observed, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

Your fellow citizen,

Bob Setzer, Jr

Bob Setzer, Jr. is pastor of First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Ga.