Is America a sinking ship? Am I witnessing, even as I sit at my gate at the Atlanta International Airport, the beginning of the end for this nation?
Is this a crazy question; an over reaction? Am I sensationalizing this?
You be the judge. But let me tell you about the last 24 hours of my 18-day speaking trip through the south-eastern United States.
Late yesterday afternoon (September 28, 2008) I arrived in Roswell, just north of Atlanta, GA, ending a four hour drive down from just north of Nashville, Tennessee.
The gas (petrol) tank in my rented car was empty, needle flat on the floor, but I thought to take a chance and get to the end of the journey before filling up so I would not have to do so again.
Pulling into a gas station, I almost ran into orange traffic cones that had been placed in front of the pumps. No other cars were there. I glanced at the sign which normally states the price-per-gallon of the different fuel grades. Nothing was written on them.
The station was empty. So was the next one, and the next, and the next. All the way to my host’s home I passed silent, ghostly gas stations. It left me with no choice but to return my car empty to the nearest Avis office, and pay the exorbitant fee to have them fill the tank.
This morning my host needed to fill his tank to bring me to the airport. We drove again past numerous empty stations. It has been this way for a week, he told me. Then we saw a long line of cars waiting at one station that did have gas. But after dropping me off at a nearby store my friend quickly returned to the station only to find the line suddenly gone as that station, too, had exhausted its supplies.
He had to search for another one and wait in line for more than an hour until he finally reached the pump.
Returning home to pack my bags, we were just enjoying a last cup of coffee together when the shocking news broke around the world: The $700 billion so-called rescue package being debated on Capitol Hill had failed to pass.
Financially speaking, all hell broke loose.
Within minutes the Dow Jones Index on the United States Stock Exchange crashed through the floor, making its biggest single day drop in history.
Listening to the announcer’s voice and the voices of those being interviewed, I felt panic hovering, even at the door.
Our ride to the airport was quick and easy. It should have been early rush hour, but the traffic flowed easily as relatively few vehicles were on the road. In this energy-guzzling land where public transportation is almost non-existent and every family member has a car, no gas = no movement.
How are they going to survive?
Now here I sit in the airport, surrounded by stunned fellow travelers – the man next to me talking animatedly on his cell phone, brow furrowed, hand taping nervously on his knee. I overhear him asking the other party: “Are you watching this? Do you know what’s happened?”
From the CNN screen the increasingly hysterical broadcaster says things like: “We are dropping right into the abyss.” “We are headed right into another great depression.” “Americans need to realize that life will change; that life has changed.”
When I took leave of my friend a few minutes ago I said: “I feel like I’m leaving a sinking ship.” He laughed, a little nervously too I thought. “I think I’ll go with you.”
My throat is dry, eyes behind my sunglasses pricking with tears as I imagine what the people of this great land could be about to go through. The cloud that seems to be boiling up on the horizon is a fearful one.
And it need not have come. It should not have come. But it is here.
And still, in the midst of reporting on this economic earthquake, CNN could not refrain from continuing with its endless attacks on Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin – listing all the “gaffes” it said she has made since being selected by John McCain. That twisted “news network” appeared to see such slander as offering light relief.
I want to say “God bless America.”
But what comes out is: “God have mercy on America. Would you please yet extend some measure of Your grace to these United States?
Dear God. Please get through to the leadership. Please open the way for someone, whoever You can use, to reach the ear of the president and rivet him with the truth: that the answer to everything that is unraveling is right there in front of him; that if he persists in pushing Israel to relinquish its homeland, endangering the very existence of Your people, he will have steered this ship – the USA – right into the hurricane path of Your fury and Your curse.
Open the door. Open the door. Let SOMEBODY get to Mr. Bush! I will go. If someone “out there” can open the door and get me to him, I will turn right around as soon as I get home and come right back. If You will only open the door and give me the words to say.
Will You still be merciful to this land? Will You remember all those here who DO love You and who have wept – even in my presence over these past days – at the terrible way this administration is endangering Israel by forcing, pushing, pressing the Jews to divide up and give away their land, YOUR land?