Heads in the sand

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ostriches are known for sticking their heads in the sand although they don’t.

It’s true. Ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand.

But the leaders of America do a pretty good job of it!

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The phrase “burying one’s head in the sand” was first used by the Roman writer known as Pliny the Elder. I’m not so smart as to remember that from history. I wouldn’t know Pliny the Elder if he came up to me and offered to buy me a hamburger (I would accept the hamburger, though). I just looked up the idiom about burying a head in the sand on the Internet.

The ostrich can be quite adept at hiding from trouble, but it doesn’t stick its head in the sand to make itself invisible. Pliny actually wrote of the ostrich sticking its head in the bushes. In reality, the ostrich, when faced with danger, will sometimes lie on the ground in a most inconspicuous way looking for the danger to disappear.

We have appropriated the phrase about the head in the sand to mean that if we will simply turn away from a problem, ignoring it so completely that we don’t even see it, then the problem will go away with no harm coming.

I wish it were so.

Problems are no fun and it takes honesty and courage to face them. It takes honesty to acknowledge them and courage to make the decisions to solve them. We would do well in our individual lives and in our collective country’s life to learn to handle our problems responsibly.

Here’s a good question. When is the best time to tackle a problem? When is a problem most easily solved?

The answer is in the beginning while it is still small and manageable. But all of us have suffered or continue to suffer from the “head in the sand” syndrome, even when we know a problem is present.

A good example might be our relationships with our automobiles. If we would pay attention to the signs our cars or trucks give us, we might save ourselves a lot of inconvenience and frustration.

For instance, there might be a back tire that has lost some air and we can notice its slackness. That’s a sign of a problem. We can ignore or deny it. Later, when the time is more critical and the place not so convenient, the tire is no longer slack, but flat! Now, there is a real problem.

Or how about our bodies? Perhaps there has been some fatigue lately. Maybe that cough has become more persistent. It’s not quite as easy to walk that set of steps as it used to be. We can ignore these signs, even deny them, but what do they say about the chickens? Sooner or later, they come home to roost.

Now that I’ve set the stage regarding problems and sticking heads in the sand, let me move to the gist of my thoughts today.

I know I would not enlighten anyone with the information that we have problems in this country of ours. Every responsible adult trying to make a living or raise a family or even just get from one day to the next feels uneasy about our country’s future. In my opinion that is why we have had tumultuous town halls and the spontaneous tea party actions of the American citizenry.

Yet, Washington seems to think it is a small group of Americans. Washington seems to feel the mandate to continue business as usual or even up the ante and count on another economic upturn. Just keep on keeping on and happy times will be here again and soon. I think their heads are in the sand, in the clouds, or even up in worse places!

Very quickly, almost without any trouble or hesitation, I thought of three problems that are as real as it gets. These problems have been ignored or denied and I think to continue in that manner will have dire consequences for this great nation of ours.

Our greatest peril is our official stance toward God. I measure my words carefully as I write. It is my opinion that God makes a nation great. Although, in world history, there have been great kingdoms that have not pledged allegiance to God, God was still the maestro. To further that analogy, I believe that God had great purpose for this orchestra called the United States of America and the blessings from sea to shining sea came as we trusted in God.

To think that we can mock or disrespect God without suffering grave consequences is to have our heads in the sand. I understand that we are a nation with freedom of religion. God understands that too. He has given individuals free will so that they may choose. Countries, also, may choose. As long as we desire (as a country or as individuals) to deny God’s goodness and power, we are headed for more trouble than necessary.

There are more problems, but I have begun with the most serious. Here are two more problems that we can either face honestly and courageously or they will be our downfall.

We are spending way too much money! All the talk about the greatest recession since the Great Depression does not give us the right to make unsound economic decisions. For individuals, families, corporations or entire countries, it is a recipe for disaster to spend so much more than is earned. To ignore such a principle is to have your head in the sand.

Here is another. I don’t know where it went but the definition of the family has been lost. From the beginning, God prescribed the healthy family as male and female plus children that honored father and mother. Responsible parenthood can be described by the title of the Margaret Mitchell classic, It’s Gone with the Wind!

“Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7).

To think that everything will work out OK is to have your head in the sand.

I know it is easy to point out problems and it might be depressing to have that done, so I’ll leave you with a good thought. Just think about that ostrich with its head in the sand. Now, what part is up and most exposed? It would be sort of easy to get a good, running start and drop kick them Jesus through the goalpost of life, wouldn’t it?

I don’t know how much that helps the ostrich or those we elected to take care of our collective business as a country. But as long as they want to keep their heads in the sand, it sure helps my feelings and brings a smile to my face. At least that’s some consolation!

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