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In Only One Lifetime



One of the most influential people in my life was my grandfather, Benjamin Augustus Golden. He was the son of a Baptist preacher who died when my grandfather was only 10 years old. 

Benjamin Augustus Golden was born in 1885 which put him in an era that was devoid of just about anything that we consider essential to our lives today. Recently, I was discussing this with my wife, and I began to list some of the things that Granddaddy Golden never saw or dreamed about. 

I thought what would have been the conversation if I had asked him about such things as radio or television. What would have been his answer if I asked him about a cell phone? Suppose I had said, “Granddaddy, there will be a time when you will hold a small device in your hand, and on that device, you will be able to talk to anyone in the world. There will be no wires involved, and you can carry it anywhere and everywhere you want to go. And, by the way, you will be able to see the person you are talking to.” 

He would have said: “no wires? You must have wires to do that like the telegraph.” 

“No granddaddy, it has no wires. It operates on radio signals that bounce off a satellite and then back to earth.” 

“Radio signals?” And then he would ask about what a satellite is and the nature of an orbit. Although he passed away in 1965, he lived long enough to see most of the conveniences we enjoy today. But as recently as the late 1950s, he would have known nothing about computers, the internet, automobiles with all the amenities they feature today, corrective eye surgery, heart by-pass operations and the like. If I had told him about men landing on the moon, he would have thought that I needed to go to the doctor. Something had to be wrong with me. The list is so long it is impossible to include all the items someone living even in the late fifties would have known nothing about. The changes and inventions have come at a rapid pace over the last 60 years.

A few years ago, I spoke at our Tifton High School 50th High School Reunion.  In my remarks, I said this: “Folks, as teenagers we lived in the best years in the greatest country in the history of the world.” Times were good. America had not yet gone crazy as it has today. The liberalization of the populace had not yet happened although it was steadily on the way. People still respected each other. A person was offended if his credit could not be granted on a handshake only. Contracts were an insult. Pornography was only for back rooms and usually attended by men only. It was not displayed on the internet for all to see. People still trusted in their elected officials to take care of business. In general, life was not as corrupted as it is today. I could continue to make my case but I would only be telling those reading this little treatise what they already know.

In Only One Lifetime our country has almost totally changed, and not for the better in most cases.  Things we only wink at today were the kind of things that stunned our town in the 50s and 60s. The American family has a different identity than it had 60 years ago. Previously, it consisted of a father and mother who were married and their children who respected their parents. The father worked and brought home the bread, and the mother managed the home and took care of the children. The family functioned as a unit, which was the “glue” of society. 

Look at that hallowed institution today. Marriage is defined as a group of people living under the same roof. Marriage is not required. The nature of what is called a family is totally different from earlier years. Marriage was for forever and was not some ceremony that is considered successful if it lasts 10 years or so. The American family has degenerated into only a shadow of what it once was. I have made my case, and the readers of this article can easily add their own facts and opinions much better than I.

As a pastor (retired), I have watched as churches and their worship mode have become something that people, even in the mid-to-late 1980s would hardly recognize. People in those days and earlier would not have attended a church that did the kind of things that people consider normal today.  It is as if honor, dignity, glory and respect for where one is and who they are worshipping has been jettisoned for something that is far less honorable than before.  The world has entered into the act of worship and has been welcomed with open arms by those in the church. 

Christians used to be spiritually aware enough to reject any intrusion into the church by worldly influences.  They were spiritually smart enough to stay away from anything that had even a hint of the world attached to it.  Accepting money from the federal or state government was not up for discussion. We were trusting in God to provide for our needs, not government. But today, churches, associations and state religious organizations are holding out their hands for stimulus monies just like the rest of society. Many will take those monies and see nothing wrong with it at all. Just remember, when the federal government gives an organization money, it will, sooner or later, try to tell that organization what to do, and if there is resistance, it will pressure the group to follow its will. Where is the First Amendment in all of that?  It won’t amount to much in the view of liberals and governments who want to control how the people worship and what they think about God in general.

The liberal educational institution has done a “good” job of dumbing down the populace in America over the past 60 years. From kindergarten to college graduates, the liberal influence has been ingrained into the thinking of our people. The reason the liberal elements wanted to take over the educational system is that they knew that opinions and mores could be changed over a period of time. They knew that the populace had to be dumbed down in order for a liberal agenda to be perpetuated on the people. Good, thinking, working conservative people would not fall for the crazy ideas that the liberals wanted to institute in America. So, it was going to take a society of little liberal secular “snowflakes” in order for the liberal ideas to have some gravity. Well, it has happened! Their plan to dumb down America has worked and that is why so many of the younger people today think socialism is a good idea. They can’t think their way out of a wet paper bag and can be told anything. Pitiful. Tragic. Dangerous.

Every major idea the liberals are postulating today would harm America, and they seem oblivious to it. Open borders, unrestricted abortion, vote by mail (just wait and see how that one turns out if instituted!) Send our manufacturing overseas (how bright is that!) Make us dependent on our enemies for needful things like medicine and oil. Spend trillions as if it is water. Give people who have entered our country illegally all the benefits that our people have worked for. Establish sanctuary cities so illegal people can run there for safety from prosecution. Release criminals from our prisons by the thousands. Make marijuana legal so people can stupefy themselves and then drive on our highways. Declare abortion clinics and liquor stores as “essential” but not churches.

These are only a few of the things that are backward and destructive. But, the snowflakes think everything is o.k…..just don’t bother them as they sip their lattes, play video games and take a spin in their new foreign car or in their new expensive boat.  And, I’m not trying to sound sarcastic. Just look around! In Only One Lifetime the whole thrust of our way of life has changed into something cheaper and far less responsible. 

The news media is controlling the thoughts and attitudes of our “snowflake” populace. Fifty years ago, we listened to trusted news outlets and learned the facts of what was happening. Men like Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, Mike Wallace (earlier version) and many others told us the actual “news.” This writer recalls Walter Cronkite’s iconic signoff each night when he would say: “And, that’s the way it is.” In my mind of that day, those words sealed it for me. I trusted Walter. It was not so much opinion as it was news.  Today, we get opinion more than news.  And, the people stating such crazy things have an agenda to twist America into something their liberal minds think we should be for our own good. 

I am amazed at some of the things I am hearing today. Ridiculous. Overbearingly insulting to one’s intelligence. In past years, purveyors of gossip and political trash would have been called into question and made to validate their words. Today, our “snowflake, can’t-think-their-way-out-of-a-wet-paper-bag-generation” thinks everything the news media says is valid. How sad and tragic.  The truth is jettisoned and lies artfully told are taking its place. 

I don’t ever intend to listen to the major news outlets again. I’m tired of my intelligence being insulted. There are some good conservative outlets and thinking people know who they are. We can get more than enough news from those conservative outlets and from internet sources. In fact, what is purveyed as “news” today is mostly slanted opinion. News is something that affects you personally. It has bearing on you.  Anything else is simply information and there is a vast difference in what is news and what is information. One big problem is that the American public has slowly but surely adopted the idea that information given by a news agency actually happened and is “news” which affects them. Not necessarily so.

Respect, which was part of the glue which held society together, is on its deathbed. In former, more sane days, no one would have ever talked about the president of the United States like they do today. It is ridiculous the way some of the people in the “news” media treat the man who occupies that high office. Formerly, if one disagreed with the positions of the man holding that office, he or she found a respectable way to voice their disagreement. Anyone listening to most of the major media outlets finds insipid people saying the most disrespectful things imaginable about the President. All this proves is that respect is dying and that they are assisting largely in its death.

Anyone who is at least 60 years old has witnessed the morphing of America into something that we hardly recognize. Things that are accepted today would have been summarily rejected only 50 or 60 years ago. No one would have thought of doing some of the things that the people of America in the 21st century allow to happen without hardly raising a voice. In Only One Lifetime much of our formerly sane society has become dominated by insane ideas and policies. 

Many members of Congress, who should be primarily interested in protecting the American people, are more interested in their personal political careers and agenda than in how their actions affect the public. I don’t give one whit about the political career of some senator or representative. I am exceedingly interested in how they guide the country. 

Sorry, but based on some of the things Congress has instituted in the last number of years, I think that the collective intelligence of Congress should be in a mental institution. In fact, if one had a family member who thought like Congress does, they would put that person in a mental institution so they would not harm themselves or those around them and so they might get some help.  In Only One Lifetime, our legislative bodies, the House and the Senate, have basically gone nuts.  Our people always knew there was corruption in Washington, D.C., but, as I write this in May 2020, I can look back and realize that, even though we knew corruption existed, we didn’t have an inkling of how bad it really is. The image of our legislative bodies has suffered terrible damage, and we hold such a view of them not because we want to but because they have taught us to hold them in low esteem and not to trust them or their actions.

I could go on and on but my point is well taken. In Only One Lifetime, we have witnessed the declension of the greatest country on earth. I fear for those coming along when they have no one who can remember the greatest days of the United States. They will have no standard by which to compare where they will be going in their day. In the future, the downward trend of America will happen at an even faster rate than we have seen over the past half-century unless God has mercy and sends us a Third Great Awakening. 

People need to understand that, no matter how great a country might be in every respect, it can be destroyed In Only One Lifetime.

Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Rev. Harrell, your writing is so very correct. I don’t have the words to say such things, so instead my anger, comes out and I spew bad words, while you explain the status of America exactly. This was a very, very good read, and I appreciate your words and effort, hoping all the older adults will print and share with all of their friends and younger relatives.

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