Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new Nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that All Men Are Created Equal. -Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address
The other side of yesterday, when we could still fit all three kids in the backseat of the car, my wife and I took the family to Gettysburg. On our arrival a historian with the National Park Service greeted us. After introductions, he got in our car and drove us to a small clearing. As we walked from our car into the middle of clearing, we saw nothing significant. No monuments immortalizing the suffering that transpired in 1863.
It was quiet. Our guide bowed his head and said nothing. The sound of silence was broken by a flock of birds that soon exited the surrounding woods. It was barely 9:00 A.M. and yet the gentle breeze was overwhelmed by the hot sun and humidity. I imagined a soldier in his uniform with his weapon and battle gear.
Over the years, trees had grown up around the clearing, so our guide walked us into the woods to help us visualize the size of this battlefield when the Union and Confederate forces collided that day. The clearing would have been a little more than an acre.
The battle lasted 30 minutes. Within those 30 minutes, thousands died. The bodies were stacked one on top of the other, like lumber at a logging camp. Soldiers removing the bodies from the clearing climbed on the fallen as if they were scaffolding along side a building.
Lincoln’s speech was short and simple. No hatred, no vindictiveness, no trace of vengeful judgment. Instead, he held the Nation who had lost so many sons in his arms. He offered words of hope and reassurance. He saw every line on the Nation’s tear stained face. He paid an unforgettable tribute to those who lost their lives. He affirmed that this Nation– of the people and by the people– would endure. He began the healing of our Divided House.
Today, far beyond the battlefields of Gettysburg, we are engaged in another civil war. Once again we are a nation divided. Once again the war is being fought over slavery. Socialism vs. Free Enterprise and the rights of the individual.
There Are No Free Lunches
We the people are the custodians of America. Not the custodians of a piece of real-estate but the caretakers of the ideals and the values that make us the defender of hope, for all those hungering to be free. As citizens and as custodians, it is time we start acting like grownups. America isn’t perfect. But we are the best there has ever been.
“I ask myself what was that government which the virtues of Cicero were so zealous to restore, and the ambition of Caesar to subvert? If Caesar had been as virtuous as he was daring and sagacious, what could he have done to lead his fellow citizens into good government? No government can continue good but under the control of the people; and their people were so demoralized and depraved as to be incapable of exercising a wholesome control.” -Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams on December 10, 1819.
These days, our national conversations and the way the pundits spin the news, bring credence to his concerns that “Political language…consist largely of euphemisms, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness...(It) is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
When, We The People– become lethargic and clueless–we enable and encourage bad behavior.
The greatest lies are told by the media, with their silence. Much of the national media sat on the sidelines while many of our treasured cities burned. They need the far Left to hold on to the power they feel slipping away. No matter what the cost.
There is a lesson worth remembering from yesterday. A time when we raised barns and planted gardens together. When Abigail Adams stood in her kitchen with soldiers from the Continental Army, melting down her silver so there would be bullets for the next day’s battle. While others stretched out on her floors and tabletops, beds, chairs and couches, catching a moment of rest.
The Pride Inside
Individual Americans are the cornerstone to our Republic.
For America to work, Democracy requires, free, open and above all else, informed debate. There is a growing disconnect between what the Founding Fathers envisioned and what is being played out. We are dumbing down what it means to be a citizen. Our leading Universities are baking more cupcakes than the folks at Hostess Twinkies. Boot camps for a Peter Pan Tomorrow Land.
You would think, with all the media we have, truth and understanding would come easy. But as Walter Lippmann wrote; For the most part we do not first see, and then define, we define and then we see.
God has expectations for all of us.
He expects and requires us to grow in wisdom.
He expects and requires us to grow in stature.
He expects and requires us to grow in relationships.
We celebrate being human when we decide on love.
You can’t love your fellow man if you do not respect yourself. Self-respect empowers us to reach for the frontier. Love prohibits a simplistic life. Love requires us to engage and to build. Anything that numbs our senses or moves us away from the desire to create will inhibit and ultimately destroy our journey. Our journey as a person, our journey as a people, our journey as a Nation.
Acceptance of any thinking that tolerates the destruction of the home, that diminishes the human spirit, that perpetuates a loss of self worth, must be confronted.
We must challenge the environments that encourage idleness, drugs, gangs and false celebrity.
We must confront the entertainment/music industry that breeds a world of self contempt. This July, we will have been married 50 years. Inspite of what the rappers sing, my wife is not my bitch. She is a woman of distinction.
We must write laws that target the bad people that illegally traffic in guns and threaten our humanity.
As I watch the news makers I am confronted by beliefs and value judgments voiced in terms of polarities, or opposites, and not in terms of a range of possibilities or alternatives.
Too often our conversations are not about clarifying and building understanding. Instead, they are all about advocacy for a particular position or party.
We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way.
We need to worry about courage. We need to worry about justice.
We must focus on substance– scholarship, on understanding people, building bridges, making ourselves useful instruments and most important we should not worry about popular opinion.
Tell the story of– Our House Divided. But also tell the story of– The Promised Land.
More Than An Afterthought…
It is not the old that are wise or the aged that understand what is right; it is the Spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty that makes him understand (Job 32).