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When the people speak up

You may have seen that Joe Biden ate his words on the border wall issue. For years, Biden said that anything Trump did was bad. He eschewed the very idea of building a wall.

During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised there would “not be another foot” of border wall built if he was elected. Upon taking office, Biden rescinded Trump’s executive orders on border wall construction with glee. Even the hapless Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas recently said the administration still does not believe that a border wall is the answer.

Lo and behold, they had an epiphany. The clouds parted. Mayorkas is now on record saying, “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States.” Yet when asked if a border wall would be effective, the president simply gave a disdainful “no.” He couldn’t even admit what his DHS Secretary had said.

In reality, the administration heard the bipartisan ruckus rising from citizens and local leaders who were just plain ol’ fed up. This poor policy decision received such a public outcry that even the usual tone-deaf Biden administration had to do something.

That’s what happens when good people speak out!

One of my favorite Bible passages is 1 Samuel 14. There are so many lessons in that one passage, and I’ve read and dissected it in different translations.

On one occasion my attention was drawn to verses 45-46, describing events after King Saul’s son Jonathan galvanized a beleaguered and depressed nation of Israel. Jonathan was a warrior who sparked life into the Israelite army by picking a fight and winning. His father, King Saul, already in the process of losing his grip on the throne, had made many bad decisions and kept making bad public policy.

Saul decided it would be a great idea to make the sudden and reckless pronouncement that no one was to have a single bite to eat until the Philistines were beaten. I’m sure it sounded tough sitting at the fireside with his generals, but troops going into battle without rations? The sustained battle left the Israelites winded. But the King’s bad policy decision still stood.

Jonathan, the hero of the nation, was busy fighting the Philistines and was unaware of his father’s fasting edict. Coming upon a beehive, Jonathan dipped his sword into the honeycomb and ate it. Well, that became a whole thing.

Learning of Jonathan’s snack, Saul declared that his own son would die for violating his order. He actually stopped pursuing the enemy to deal with his son having a bite of honey on the battlefield.

You can imagine how that went over. The people were beside themselves. They respected their King, but they loved Jonathan.

No one dared speak a contrary word of counsel to the King when he proclaimed his misguided policy, but now Jonathan’s life was on the line. At that point, Scripture tells us that the people had enough:

“But the troops retorted, ‘Jonathan, who saved Israel today, shall die? Far from it! We vow by the life of God that not one hair on his head will be touched, for he has been used of God to do a mighty miracle today.’ So the people rescued Jonathan. Then Saul called back the army, and the Philistines returned home."

They ‘retorted’? That’s a stiff, belligerent, and almost argumentative reply. This was not up for debate. They refused to give Jonathan up, and Saul quit the battle altogether and let the Philistines go home.

Note that no one threatened the King. No one raised a finger against him. No one insulted Saul or renounced him as their leader. They just said, “Enough is enough.” They stuck their own necks out when they saw injustice.

Leaders sometimes make bad decisions. Leaders sometimes chase rabbits and forget what’s important. Some leaders become prideful and believe that because they set the policy, there is no discussion, and it doesn’t matter what the outcome will be.

But the people still have a voice. People can still effect change when they band together and make themselves known.

Therein lies the point. When we see bad decisions made in the realm of public policy – things like shutting down businesses and churches or mandating vaccinations to keep a job – we must say something. The same goes for public policy that teaches kids they are privileged oppressors or hapless victims simply because of the skin color God chose for them, or when the government grows fat on tax dollars without any relief to citizens. And yes, even when our Southern Border is non-existent, and millions flood across it illegally.

For all those reasons and many more, it is incumbent upon people to become what Thomas Jefferson described as a “well-informed citizenry” and to make our voices heard.

Based on what we read in 1 Samuel … and what we all saw with the flip-flop on the border wall … making our voices heard can be very effective.

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