EDMOND — The city's 130-year heritage was represented well at the 2019 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast when considering about 200 early settlers first settled in tents they pitched nearby the railroad tracks, Mayor Dan O’Neil said. Hundreds gathered at Tuesday’s breakfast on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Edmond spoke of the impact of Jesus Christ when placed at the center of one’s life. Lankford, who chaired last year’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., allows God to use him to impact key areas of government, said Marcus Crawford, owner of Crawford Family Funeral & Cremation Service.
Lankford continues to impact the lives of students during his leadership in the Senate. His Christian sphere of influence as the former Director of Student Ministry for the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma and Director of Falls Creek Youth Camp still resonates with youthful lives today.
“I love new questions that students actually bring,” Lankford said.
He took civics questions from students two years ago in Balko, located near Guymon in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
“About the second question one young lady said, ‘How did you get here?’” said Lankford, who answered “by car.” Another student said, ‘I live in the middle of nowhere. How did you get here?’”
A student will inevitably ask if he’s met the President or if he rides in a limousine everywhere he goes. Actually, Lankford drives a smaller vehicle — a Ford Focus. They also find out that Lankford follows the same TSA security check protocols everyone else is subject to at airports. He pays into Social Security as well, they learn.
The personal question students will typically ask of Lankford in a lowered voice is if he reads his Facebook page comments. He and his staff do.
“There’s some interesting dialogue that’s happening online. There’s an interesting dialogue that’s happening in the country,” Lankford said.
Oklahoma’s junior senator and father of two girls visited Seiling and Woodward recently in northwest Oklahoma. He read to a third-grade class in Mooreland, and the photo taken there was posted on Facebook.
One of the 80 or so comments included, “You and your kind are pitiful,” Lankford said.
Next comment: “Complete and utter failure.” And then, “What did you tell them (students) about climate change? … Did you tell them you’re not going to do anything about it and neither is their governor,” someone stated after remarking that life on earth will vanish.
“How about this one, ‘Did you tell them you don’t support any of them, especially the students of color,’” Lankford said, before continuing with his favorite comment, ‘You’re finally with a peer group,” he added amid laughter.
He said another Facebook post asked if students ever ask him about all the rude, off-subject, and vulgar statements about him on his page.
“‘I’m pretty sure some of them have access to Facebook. Do these folks realize what type of example they are providing for our kids?’” he said the writer posted on his page.
Lankford said especially the followers of Jesus may question why people utter the words they use, and what has become of the present-day culture?
“The anger is not from one side or the other. The anger is not from one political stripe, or one race, or one socio-economic — it’s from all over,” he said.
Lankford said he can’t help but laugh when seeing someone give him the middle finger when driving, and seeing the likes of a “Stop the hate” bumper sticker while steering down the road.
He also said that he works at a place that is not setting a great example for the country about how to dialogue with others.
“I’m not going to shy away from it — the President has a real habit of tweeting some of the most racial things ever,” Lankford said. “He and I have had conversations on several points about that. I’ve had people that come up to me and say, ‘Can you take his phone away from him?’ And I typically will say, ‘If his wife can’t take his phone away, I can’t take his phone away from him.’
“But there was a funny time about a year ago. This was a particular time I happened to be traveling with the President that day — that I’m sitting next to him, and at one point, he pulls his phone out and he starts tweeting something.
“And he turns to me about half-way through it, and he looks at me and says, ‘You wouldn’t tweet this,’” Lankford continued. “And I laughed and I said, ‘Then you probably shouldn’t either.’ And he said, ‘I am — I think it’s funny.’”
Lankford saying the national dialogue often found on social media brings to mind “1984” by George Orwell. Two minutes of televised hate were required each morning in Orwell’s book written in 1949. There was hatred about enemies, reasons to oppose them, and why enemies are so wrong while “we’re” so right, Lankford said.
Lankford is reminded of today’s culture, the streaming videos and dialogue that sometimes can be broken down into two minutes of hate about the enemy.
“And it continues to be able to stir us up,” Lankford said. “Our culture says, ‘Do whatever you want. Say whatever you want.”
Diversity of thought is not bad, he explained. The problem is how diverse dialogue is handled, he said. Lankford quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
Lankford continued with the Biblical concept of King’s words, “I’ve decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. Darkness cannot drive-out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”