“In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Please pull the mask down toward your face and place the mask over your mouth and nose. If you are traveling with a child, please attend to yourself first, then the child. Breathe normally, adjust the headband to suit yourself.”
One would think that these instructions given just before take-off on commercial airliners would not be necessary. Doesn’t this make perfect sense to all on board? Actually, it doesn’t. It is the natural inclination of a parent to put the child first in emergency situations. In this case, it can be hazardous for the child and the adult. The stronger, more capable person must tend to herself in order to be able to meet the needs of the child. This is also true of family caregivers. Multiple reputable studies prove repeatedly that people who take care of chronically ill patients or loved ones often fall victim to physical, mental, and emotional problems of their own. Some even die as a result of failing to put their own health first.
When President Donald Trump said in his inaugural speech, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first,” some people went berserk. These folks, like the parent on the plane receiving the instructions for survival, can’t make sense of what he is saying. Trump never said we wouldn’t help people of other nations. He simply understands the truth. We cannot help anyone until we make ourselves great again. If we continue down the path we are on, our health as a nation will fail, and we will be of no use to anyone – not even ourselves.
This desire to put our country first is not selfish or sinful. Actually, what Trump is doing is what we’re taught in Scripture. In 1 Timothy 5:8, failure to take care of our own is sinful: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Are we not an American “family”? Is our leader not obligated to take care of his own family first? Who would want a president who doesn’t put his own country first? If the United States of America is to be healthy enough to help the less fortunate at home and abroad, then we must put America first and make her great again.
The following quote from Rabbi Hillel, who lived from about 110 BC to 10 AD, offers more insight into the idea of identifying our unique “self”, sharing it with others, and working to improve upon it at every turn:
Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Flour Bluff, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.