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By Dr. Jannie B. Johnson

Jackson Advocate Guest Writer

In the New Year, I wish for America something old, something tried, and something true, but nothing new. I wish for America that old-time religion that we Americans prided ourselves in singing, “Give me that old-time religion. It was good enough for Moma; it was good enough for Papa, and it’s good enough for me. It makes me love everybody and treat everybody right. Oh, it’s good enough for me.”

The Ten Commandments were not a religion neither an offense. They were the way of life that had been tried but endured the test of time. They define good people as those who acknowledge an allegiance to God, honor and respect their parents, do not murder folks, cheat and steal property, tell lies, commit adultery/fornicate, or be envious of others’ possessions. 

That old-common-sense way of living is less common today. We are forgetting the American way of living together as one nation under God.

Back in the day when we were taught and expected to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to be our brothers’ keepers, we had less need for more and more security. We had personal discipline within that guarded our thoughts and dictated our behavior. 

Nothing new, America, just something that has transcended our history of diversity, The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” That rule has common sense, objectivity, and some boundaries. It has a reference point for making personal judgment and a built-in way for dealing with tolerance for others. It’s GOLDEN!!!

If we want to remain America, the beautiful, land of the free, we must maintain the home of the brave, too. To offend or not to offend individuals cannot become our nation’s number one priority. The strength of this nation was built on more than individual rights and freedoms. “I feel, I think, and I see it this way.” Equally true, the collective rights and freedoms were factored into the mix of our government. 

 I believed one reason our government has lasted over 245 years is because it has been one “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The interpretation of separation of church and state was not translated to mean that the state/government did not need the church. Therefore, the church is not to be a part of the “we” business. 

Our history shows that it was the “we” business that made our nation and the “we” business that have kept unity in our United States. Individualism, though celebrated today, has not the depth, breath, or connection to endure the years of time. 

Fellow Americans, let’s not go into an emotional tizzy and stop thinking and reasoning together. Think about this, wrong is offensive to right; truth offends lies; law keepers are offensive to criminals/law breakers. So, if our number one objective is to offend no one about anything, we have an impossible task, indeed.

We have to decide to go back to the old, tried and the true: teach the old and young Americans to respect and appreciate doing the right thing by self and others, so help them God.

We Americans have changed our attitude toward the need for personal worth, personal discipline. By silent intimidation, we no longer speak of character or personal discipline as the principal part of our behavior, the staple of relationships and the glue of our society.

Back in the day, there was no threat of litigation for talking about our Creator, God. We looked beyond our diversity and chose to honor the greater need to do right and go straight and be good American citizens.

Those parents/adults who taught the young followed an unscripted curriculum. Content of character was their number one priority. Their instructions and warnings were not couched in feel-good words. Being positive and politically correct were not their concerns. They held themselves accountable for protecting the young from the ignorance of youth and the foolishness of peers. They were convinced that diligence and passivity could not coexist.

Today, we the caring parents/adults do not feel free to tell youngsters the truth we learned as children. The risk is too great. The sentiment of the public has shifted to a different place. Therefore, we rename, reframe, and re-prioritize the truth in an attempt to do the impossible, offend no one. 

As we distance ourselves from our Source of truth, God, we can see that we are getting what we want, more individual freedoms/rights but we are losing what we had, character and personal discipline.

Truth that comes from the human’s mind is too weak to tame the savageness of man and make gentle life in this nation. With the new ideas, new theories, and new policies/laws, we have personal discipline problems. Our relationships do not have the meaning or the duration they once had. The institutions that once preserved and perpetuated our unique culture are becoming unglued from within. 

Not a new thing but an old thing that America needs: return to her cradle and nursery – like beliefs in objective values/truths and stay in the “we the people” business where there is safety.


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By Jackson Advocate News Service
January 8, 2024