Opinion: Citizenship and healing the nation


Every country has requirements to become a citizen. Some are more rigid than others, but almost all have language requirements. To become a citizen of the United States, one must be at least 18 years of age, a person of good character and able to write, read and speak English, among other requirements. Some countries allow dual citizenships while others do not. Before we get too far, I think a definition of the subject matter is fitting. Citizenship is the character of an individual viewed as a member of society, being vested with the rights, duties, obligations and functions of a citizen. In essence, if a person is a citizen of a country, he or she has the same rights as the next citizen. Each has duties, as a citizen, to obey the laws of the land.

Citizenship within a country doesn't give any member the right to create his or her own laws. When citizens within a country become self-controlled, problems become apparent on the land. These self-proclaimed vigilantes often create groups of followers.

Citizenship is a privilege that should not be ruined or taken advantage of. Protection comes along with being a citizen of a country. A citizen of the United States of America should not expect protection from another country while residing in the U.S.

We have written thus far about the definition, requirements and benefits of being a citizen of a given country. The question at this point is: Why would the leaders of a country zero in on a certain group of people, within their country, to try to destroy them? We have seen this happen throughout history. According to the 2014 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Venezuela and Haiti are among the worst countries where vivid fractures exist between government and citizens. Haiti protests on a regular basis against its governance, with many turning violent. For years, Haiti has experienced missing ballots, delayed elections and voter fraud. Venezuela, on the other hand, deals with more political clashes between the powers that be. Several leaders of the opposition party have been arrested for plotting to kill a sitting leader. Clashes between demonstrators and the police have turned deadly for dozens of people.

While all of these countries are unique, they all seem to share common problems. In many, certain groups are too strong, and partisanship, government corruption, police brutality and elitism run amok. In others, the government is too weak to act as needed to further their respective countries. Indeed, until countries' leaders are able to effectively work in the best interests of the constituent populaces they represent, their nations will continue to struggle.

The United States is sitting on a time bomb. Our 45th president has already made it clear that he doesn't know if he would leave the White House if he loses the election. We should always pray for our nation and its leaders, but now more than ever we need to be in prayer. We are already experiencing some of the same problems that these nations described by CPI are dealing with. Nov. 4 can be the beginning of our worst nightmare.

There is a bright side to all of this, however. We are taught biblically that the places where we live are not our home. We are simply travelers passing through this land.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth (Hebrew 11:12-13 NIV). The Hebrew writer described those who sojourned on earth as faithful saints but died before the manifestation of the many promises. They are now citizens of that place where the leader, God, will never turn corrupted.

I pray that all citizens of this nation receive the blessings promised to them before they die! We should participate in a competitively fair election and work today healing this nation. And the people said, Amen.

In God We Trust!

Sam Livingston is pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Manning.