"First World" is a fairly new term. We freely discuss the "Third World" and its problems of poverty and underprivilege; however, it is only recently that people have begun to look at the problems that come with too much affluence.
I was teaching my Confirmation class the other night. It is a class of two thoughtful rising sixth grade boys. When I asked if they were proud or grateful to be born in America to the families they were--they responded "grateful". One looked at the other and said, "If we wanted to, we could walk to school every day & never worry about a roadside bomb. Kids like us in Iran and Iraq aren't that lucky." We also talked about how great it was they got the Mom & Dad they did & the Church they did (and of course) the Pastor they have :-)
One of our temptations is to enjoy the fruits of citizenship without tending to the tree of liberty. Fosdick once preached a sermon on "Parking on Someone Else's Nickel" ($5 now). How many of us EARNED the freedoms we enjoy? Is the world a better place because you and I are here? Is our community a better one because of that? How about our church because we are active members?
A man sent a letter to Ann Landers. He wrote, "This is for the woman who was distressed about her son. I would like to ask her some questions about the boy. Is he disrespectful? Has he been arrested for drunk driving? Has he been kicked out of college for cheating? Has he made his girlfriend pregnant? Does he get failing grades? Does he steal money from your purse?"
"If you can answer 'No' to all these questions, stop complaining. You have a great kid." It was signed, "Ralph N., Oakland, CA."
Ann Landers answered this way: "Your letter showed just how much times have changed. You said that if a kid today isn't on drugs, doesn't get failing grades, hasn't been arrested for drunk driving, or kicked our of college for cheating, hasn't made his girlfriend pregnant, or stolen from your purse, that he's great. But you make no mention of acheivement. There's not a word about integrity, a sense of responsibility, decency, morality or service to others." Then she added "What a sad commentary on our times. Good Lord, where is our nation headed, and who is going to lead us there?"
I hope today that we aren't holding our freedoms or our responsibilities to lightly. May we never forget the "debt of gratitude we owe". God Bless us everyone!