July 4, 2016
Freedom and courage go together. It takes courage to defend freedom and freedom begets courage.
Many books have been written in this nation about courage in the defense of freedom. They mention military exploits and physical courage. Interestingly, very few have been written about moral courage and its necessity to defend moral values like honesty, justice, and compassion.
“Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right.” wrote Mary Baker Eddy. She added, “There is too much animal courage in society and not sufficient moral courage…There is moral freedom in Soul.” A nation that retains its soul–its originating values and identity–retains its freedom. This freedom rests on continuing to identify itself with its best nature. Values of humanity, justice, self-government, equality, and freedom of conscience are the soul of this country.
The Bible makes a connection between the soul and health and prosperity. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.” When we pay attention to and protect our nation’s soul, its prosperity and health are more sure. Not just the prosperity and well-being of the few, but of everyone, and of its legislative and judicial and executive functions. The ideal of the American Dream is the equality of opportunity that allows everyone to uphold its soul, to work and thrive and belong, despite differences of religion, race, origin, sex, age or any other distinction. It takes courage to continue to insist on this healthy value in the face of its neglect.
Our national anthem has been criticized for its martial imagery but in one sense it captures the necessity of a people to keep a lookout for the high standards that bring them together and hold them together. When those standards are assailed from within and without, we need courage to defend and retain them.
Rockets of glorified self-interest and bombs of moral lapse still burst in the air over our nations. The red glare of their self-destructiveness should serve to illuminate a flag that symbolizes the “better angels of our nature,” as Abraham Lincoln spoke of in his second inaugural address. “With malice toward none and charity toward all,” he pointed us in the direction of freedom based on the unshakeable foundation of lasting values–those of humanity and forgiveness in the wake of the Civil War.
When finger-pointing and posturing threaten to divert us from our foundational moral sense, we need to catch glimpses of the flag that stands for the best in human nature and remind ourselves why we can dearly love this country. We need to keep our eyes on our better natures and continue to bring them out in our civic life. Even if only a glimpse appears between the bursting bombshells of moral and physical disasters, a people needs to hold on to its ideals in order to ensure their continuity.
“Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave?”
If “we the people” keep a yearning watch for this ensign and the liberty of conscience and integrity for which it truly stands, we will yet be able to say that it does wave over a land of the free and a home of the brave.
Love the soul of your country and the moral integrity and freedom it stands for. Don’t get involved with the blame game. Give proof through the dark night of ethical lapses, that our flag–our high standard– is still there. Yes, it’s important to meet the wrong and denounce it, wherever it may appear. But more important is to proclaim the right and keep our eyes focused in that direction. It takes courage to have a standard and defend a standard when the majority are trampling it. It’s a short term solution to go along and get along with the status quo in these circumstances. Those who are willing to see and defend the higher ethics have always saved what was worth saving.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish,” says the Bible. Look for our best values and don’t be afraid to stand up with courage for the ideal that takes away, not the rights, but only the wrongs of the people.
Science and Health pg 327, pg 28, and pg 58, III John 1:2, Pr 29:18