Long ago President Abraham Lincoln said, “We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.”
Not so long ago I inadvertently stepped into a hornet’s nest and by offering a suggestion on an Internet-based social networking system where I’ve connected with friends from near and far, I gave offense.
That wasn’t my intent.
Here’s what happened. I received an e-mail that included a link that I – or anyone else – could click. In doing so, one could sign an electronic birthday card for the President.
As long as I remember, I’ve said a prayer or sent warm thoughts to our country’s leader on his birthday. In fact, I wrote a column that ran on the last birthday President George W. Bush celebrated in office.
Let’s face it. The job is not an easy one. Presidents need our support. Look at the toll the task takes on those who serve in that office. It’s like they age in dog years.
President Obama will celebrate his 49th birthday Wednesday. I thought my online “friends” would be interested in wishing him well. To be sure, some were.
Others, not so much.
The animosity the simple gesture prompted troubles me still. Without question, I believe in free speech and the right for people to voice their opposition toward government leaders. One person who read the foofaraw my online Presidential birthday link caused wrote saying that prior to Obama’s election when he felt the need to speak out against Bush, he was called a traitor and unpatriotic by some of the same people who now speak out against Obama.
That just doesn’t sit right with me.
Another person wrote saying he hopes the president is miserable and sleepless until he repents and honors God with his decisions.
Does that thinking get us anywhere good?
Many negative responses I got regarding my quest for good thoughts for Obama referenced Christian thinking and Constitutional rights.
We are blessed to live in a country founded on religious freedom. Isn’t there patriotism and honor in wishing the leader of our country well regardless of political beliefs? Naively, I thought so and believed my online non-Obama-supporting friends would want to do so – if for no other reason than the simple concept we learned as children: Love your enemy.
I was wrong.
Through research, I learned that the doctrine of “Love your enemy” is taught in Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Taoism, Confucianism, the Unification Church and Christianity as a fundamental principal in getting along with others.
Maybe mere humans just can’t do it. Maybe that phrase so many of us heard throughout our upbringing is too difficult.
I invite you to join me in wishing the President the happiest of birthdays, full of insight and wisdom. He makes decisions that affect each of us — as well as the rest of the world. The position deserves our support and respect regardless of our politics. If that’s a difficult task, let’s stretch and consider our efforts as enlightened self-interest — spreading peace and making the world a better place.