12/31/2013 11:27 am ET Updated Mar 02, 2014

Unavoidable Year-End Challenges to Redeeming the Soul of America

TV and print media are preoccupied with looking back at the "worst" and "best" things or people in 2013. Most comment about the obvious people or events: the Republican Party-induced government shutdown, Edward Snowden's disclosure of the magnitude of NSA surveillance into our personal privacy, the botched online rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the attempt to pass gun legislation following the Newtown massacre, judicial and legislative validation of the rights of LGBT people, the Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the "pre-clearance" Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and more.

All of the above, and more, were important events during 2013. But underlying all of them is the unresolved, over arching issue of just what kind of nation are we today? Perhaps best exemplified by the question asked by Pope Francis, "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"

To Pope Francis' question can be added, what kind of country are we that our Congress can fail to provide the $19 billion needed to fund a three-month extension of unemployment benefits for 1.3 million recipients?

Underlying a resolution of ALL of the above is the issue of two contrasting concepts and views about the role of government in addressing social and economic issues. The view of our Republican-controlled House and their allies in the Tea Party is that the best government is no government at all in connection with the needs of the poor or unemployed. As a nation, we have got to decide which "side" are we on?

Probably no issue requires resolution more than that of the attitude of a substantial number of white Americans toward Barack Obama as president of the United States. An irrational mindset still believes he is not legitimately qualified to serve as president because he is not an American citizen (was born in Kenya, not Hawaii), is a Muslim, not a Christian, and a closet "socialist" committed to take their lawfully purchased guns away from them. I could go on and on.

Added to this is the frequent presence of Confederate flags at some anti-Obama rallies.
Few if any of the media pundits are willing to tell it like it is: in 2013 there are still a substantial number of white Americans who are fundamentally opposed to President Obama because he is an African-American man.

The Confederate flags represent a mindset from slavery that 24/7 seeks to destroy and emasculate the African-American male. Fearful of being challenged by the allegation of "playing the race card," most media pundits shy away from or are unwilling to publicly say that the "driver" underlying much of the opposition to Obama is fundamentally because, pure and simple, he is not a white male.

Regrettably, Obama fueled this opposition by "shooting himself in the foot" in terms of retaining the trust and confidence among a significant segment of the most active part of his voter base. This is a consequence of his failure to deliver on his pre-election pledge to close Guantanamo Bay, a perceived excessive use of drones, compounded by the Snowden disclosure of NSA's invasion of our privacy, an "uncertain trumpet" of foreign leadership in response to the military coup in Egypt, the civil war in Syria under President Assad, and of course, the Keystone Cops-esque roll out of the Affordable Care Act.

No issue, however, is more central to the redemption of the soul in America in 2014 than that of gun violence. Controls to assure the responsible ownership and use of guns are unavoidable if we are serious about redeeming the soul of America. I urge all people interested in participating in this effort to check out the website of