A close friend tells me repeatedly not to worry, not to doubt for a moment that Barack Obama, not John McCain, will give this great country – and everything it stands for – back to its people. All of its people. He assures me that His will will be done.

Still I fear.

I fear because I see a nation indifferent to integrity, turned off by intellect, easily persuaded by gimmickry, prone to accept dishonesty and deceit in its politicians and kept informed by a media that for too long funneled a steady flow of unchallenged lies and distortions as if they had no choice. I fear because recent U.S. elections confirmed that candidates who dealt in divisiveness and demagoguery too often won at the ballot boxes, not candidates advocating fairness, decency, openness and a better way of life.

Over the weekend, one pundit suggested that America wants its leaders to appear to be strong even when they’re wrong, and not to appear weak even if they’re right. That, of course, explains why George Bush was elected to a second term. That explains, too, why Sen. John McCain remains the choice of many to continue Republican policies that have nearly bankrupt this country, morally and economically.

Maybe our time has come, maybe the world we know soon will change in a way we can’t now comprehend. If we, as a nation, continue to ignore the virtues embedded in our Christian heritage and extend this era of corruption, greed, racism and contentiousness for another four years, we surely will come to understand what it feels like to watch a great nation crumble, destroyed from within by an ageless, deadly three-pronged toxin: hatred, greed and corruption. That’s why I fear.

My friend says that I worry too much, that I have no faith and that I continue to ignore the divinely inspired lessons of life. Throughout our friendship, in times of great sorrow or stress he frequently has referred me to a biblical passage – Romans 8:28, which reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

The Lord, he says, works in mysterious ways. My friend reminded me that slavery ended after the Civil War not because our leaders had a dramatic change of heart; but because politically, it was the only way to save the Union. He reminded me, too, that it was a southern president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who lobbied, cajoled and finally, persuaded Congress to pass the Civil Rights Acts that finally allowed its black citizens to be a part of this great society. These things, he said, were destined to occur, as were so many others that kept a people in pain from falling into pits of despair.

“How many times did your parents tell you how inspired they were when Jesse Owens ran to greatness at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin?” my friend asked. “Though you were just a kid when Joe Louis became the heavyweight champion, didn’t the “Brown Bomber” lift your spirits, give you hope? How about Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier, Martin Luther King, Jr., and now, Tiger Woods? It doesn’t matter that Tiger has trouble accepting his identity; no one else has.

My friend continued: “All this leads me to believe that Barack Obama is just the next step, another breakthrough that eventually will allow this country to realize one of its founders’ precepts – that all men and women are created equal.

“For months we thought that our policies regarding the Iraq war would make the difference; then we dwelled on experience and health care issues and for the next few weeks, we must brace ourselves for media hysterics, as we move down the stretch debating what to do about our near-the-brink-of-disaster economy. The bottom line, however, is whether the question of equality becomes the deciding factor in which way most of us vote. I don’t have a clue as to what will happen to sway the electorate; I just know that God’s will will prevail. So stop worrying. I won’t ask you to be happy, but I will ask you to trust in Him and believe.”

So I will.