In my opinion, the U.S. is one of the greatest countries in the world. It is also one of the few remaining countries where citizens are free to live without too much government intervention (though this has changed tremendously over the past hundred years). However, there are many people who complain about how horrible the U.S. is. Of course, there are many problems here, but there are many problems in every country. Every country has good and bad.
How does living in the U.S. compare to a place like Venezuela? We recently shared a meal with a couple from Venezuela. There names are Luis and Maria (I’ve changed their names to protect their identities). They shared stories of how much their lives changed once the Socialist government took control. There were riots everyday and anyone who expressed a difference of opinion was beaten up, threatened, and/or murdered. In fact, both Luis and Maria received death threats. Things came to a head when they couldn’t leave their home without wearing disguises. Thankfully, they applied for a Visa to come to the U.S. and they are now making their home here and will eventually become citizens. Unfortunately, their families and friends back home are living under extreme oppression. The government has prohibited citizens from owning Passports and nobody can leave the country. Thank G-d we live in a country where we can travel freely within and visit other countries without our government trying to control us.
The fact of the matter is that there is a way to change the mentality and values of this country. No, it doesn’t start by you changing the way other people think. Nor, does it start by going to the government and demanding they “change things”. Change always happens from the bottom up, that is from the people, then the government, never from the government down to the people.
How do we change what’s going on in the U.S.? This is strictly my opinion and others may disagree. Here are a few suggestions:
-Love and fear/reverence of G-d: It’s not enough just to love G-d. People have used their “love of G-d” to do horrible things to others. You need both: love and fear/reverence. Why? Loving G-d acknowledges that we are not in total control of our lives, while fearing G-d forces us to be held accountable for the things we do/say on this Earth. There’s a Jewish principle that when we die, we go before Hashem and are asked a few questions. 1) Did we conduct business honestly and with integrity? 2) Did we set fixed times for studying Torah? 3) Did we devote ourselves to our families? 4) Did we anticipate the redemption? If we recognize everyday that eventually we will be held accountable for our life on Earth, most, if not all of us, would live our lives differently.
-Learn the Torah and Biblical Principles: The way we are supposed to live our lives is clearly defined in the Torah. Initially each individual person could take some time each day to study this very important source. Then, families can incorporate “family study time” where they read and discuss various portions of the Torah together. It may also be helpful for families to join with other families and have group meet ups to discuss Biblical principles.
-Read the founding documents of the U.S. How can we truly appreciate the founding documents if we’ve never read and deeply studied them? It used to be mandatory for citizens to read the Bill of Rights, The Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. Today, many people say these documents are out of touch with modern times and are no longer important. The thing is, history always repeats itself. These documents, along with the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers give us a glimpse into the thoughts behind the decisions that the founders made. They were so tired of the corruption taking over England, that they wanted to change things. Each of their grievances are listed in the Declaration of Independence. While, it is true that they didn’t put an end to slavery immediately, nevertheless, they did succeed in laying the foundation for its eventual abolishment. They created these documents in order for the citizens to limit the powers of their government; where the government would serve the people instead of the people serving the government. Unfortunately, when citizens forget their history and importance, government expands it’s control. This is precisely what has been happening now for many, many years in the U.S.
The best thing we can do is begin doing these things independently, then with study and discuss with our families. Once we’ve done that, then we can meet with others who also want to change things. With enough people who love and revere G-d, read/study the Torah, and the founding documents, the outer society will change for the better.