The news headlines of late have been downright scary.  The dictator of North Korea has threatened to destroy the island of Guam.  North Korea has nuclear weapons, and it was recently learned they have miniaturization technology for those nukes. That means they can be MIRVed.  MIRV stands for “Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle.”  In other words, it’s a missile that carries several nuclear warheads, each of which can be directed at a different target.

If North Korea attacks a US territory, or injures any American troops stationed there, Donald Trump warned it will be met with “fire and fury, the likes of which the world has never seen.”

World matters are out of our hands, and in the midst of all this talk of war many of us lose sight of what’s truly important.

What’s truly important in our everyday lives is God, family, friends, work, and country.  Unfortunately, many get the order of things all wrong sometimes.

Communist North Korea is run by a dictator who controls the national media and rules by fear.  Kim Jong-un has proven he’s not afraid to execute anyone who threatens his reign.

In contrast, the United States was structured in a way that elevated the choice of freedom above tyranny.

Some may say the turmoil going on in the world is a struggle of good versus evil.  Call it what you may, but an attack of any sort could well be apocalyptic.

I admit I’ve been a little preoccupied with all that and a bit unnerved, but I recently got a letter from one of my readers and the focus of my concerns were shuffled.

There are several thousand readers of this column across the country.  Grace, in Tennessee, said she read the column in the Savannah Courier and decided to write.

Her letter was sad – yet enlightening.  The first paragraph said: “I saw a column of yours in the local paper recently.  It seems like you care about people.  I hate to say it, but I live in an area that seems to really not care about the needs of others.  There’s a lot of poverty and illiteracy here.  Many of us, especially older, have our needs ignored.”

I’m contacted by readers often, but Grace’s correspondence demanded action.

I contemplated contacting her congresswoman, 7th District Republican Marsha Blackburn.  I also considered contacting her Republican Senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, but thought better of it and considered it folly.

Washington’s dysfunctional and politicians should be about representing their constituents.  Most of them have forgotten they’re servants.  The parable of The Good Samaritan is just a fable for many lawmakers – it makes for great pretense in a speech come election time.

There are 49 churches in Grace’s town.  I was determined to call every church there to have someone check on Grace.   She said her house was in disrepair, she had no way to mow the lawn, and she hadn’t had running water for quite a while.

The first church I called was an Assembly of God and I spoke to their minister.  He said his church feeds over 1,000 people each week from their food pantry.  Pastor Jerry promised he would check on Grace the following day and have some volunteers help her.

Grace just wanted someone to hear her cry.

Shortly after that, my wife and I went to a Festival in a small Indiana town.  In the middle of it, on a Sunday morning, a community church service was going on in a large tent.  In the tent crowd was a man with his hands raised – focused – he was Pastor Tim.

In the tent crowd of some seventy-five, I saw kids fidgeting, adults nodding off, and a few playing on their cell phones.

In a small way, it was a representative sea of humanity – a large percentage of them were preoccupied with themselves.  I witnessed something that’s reflective of society that day.  We’re so full of ourselves these days we can’t see the forest for the trees.  It’s people like you and I, not government, who hear the cry in the wilderness from people like Grace and pay attention to their plea that makes the difference.

You might say the distinction of the American way was represented.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

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