Tag Archives: equality

The Road Taken

american-flag-2a2So much depends on the road taken, or not taken. 

The last I read that there were twenty-two Republican candidates for president and two Democrats. The year should prove interesting. Let the debates begin. 

And now that the Supreme Court has clearly usurped the legislative function of government in Obergefell v. Hodges, and our future president may appoint judges to this august bench, the election is one that will change the course of our nation for good or ill. 

It is a time to pay attention, and for voters to consider who will keep our country free, who will protect our people from international and domestic terrorists, who will protect the individual from the state and individuals from each other. Who best will honor American ideals, those perfect standards, those road signs that show us our destination, where we want to go, who we want to be, and the road we must take to get there? 

So much depends on the rule of law, our attitude toward that great body of do’s and don’ts codified and built upon past law. Do we respect the commands of government, the demands of the commons for the common good? Do we respect those who enforce those laws: police and courts, juries and justices, attorneys and jailers? Without common law, and without respect for its ordering and its enforcers, we have no future. Without equality under that law, the law that we the people have legislated, we will collapse from within. Like a rotting apple in a barrel, the cancer of lawlessness will spread and devour us. 

So much depends on our care for the poor, those poor in spirit or flesh, our neighbors in city and country. We are called to look after the least of these, for they are a part of our national body, our e pluribus unum, for from many we are one. We must care for each other by supporting those institutions that build hospitals and schools, that open soup kitchens, those saintly groups that brave inner cities to kiss lepers and teach children and bind wounds of the brokenhearted. Government cannot do these things. Churches and temples, and perhaps other private charities, enterprises of love, can best do these things. 

So much depends on integrity, an integral term rarely used today and nearly forgotten. Integrity comes from the Latin integretas, meaning soundness, wholeness, blamelessness, the quality of practicing what one preaches so that one is integrated, without and within. Actions match words. Integers are whole numbers, and integrity is wholeness, wholesomeness, health. Of course no one is perfect in word or deed, but some care more about trying to live lives of integrity than others. They see the ideal, the road that must be taken to get there, the goal for which we must strive. They pay attention to their conscience. They recognize corruption; they can see it taking root like a fast-growing weed. 

So much depends on natural law, that ancient communal sense of right and wrong governing marriage, family, and children, the unborn and the aged, euthanasia and slavery. Civilizations have known the rights and wrongs of how to get along. They have sensed that certain ways, or paths, are better than others to survive as a species, our humanity considered precious. They have been concerned to identify how such ways affect the common good, affect the human heart, affect the conscience. 

Someone once said that the first time a person steals he feels guilty. The second time he steals he finds an excuse to rationalize the theft; the guilt is lessened. The third time he steals, he feels no guilt. His heart has become inured, hardened and his humanity lessened. Perhaps this is reflected in the recent video of the woman discussing the sale of baby body parts while eating a salad. It is all too easy to no longer react humanely to acts of horror. It is all too easy to be proud of what had once been unthinkable. It is all too easy to send the undesirables to a concentration camp. It is all too easy to dismember babies in utero. 

The presidential debates, one of the glories of our democracy, will show us ourselves, who we are and where we should go. We may glimpse integrity or we may see only bravado and corruption. Where we go from here will make a difference in our lives, in the life of every one of us. Let’s pay attention to our candidates, what they say, how they say it, and the ideals they embody. 

So much depends on the road taken.

On Liberty and Equality for All

Peggy Noonan writes today in the Wall Street Journal about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and its upcoming 150th anniversary in November. The Gettysburg Address is short, only three paragraphs and two minutes long, given at Gettysburg Cemetery for those who died in the then-ending Civil War, but it is said to be the most famous speech in the history of our country if not the West. Evidently President Lincoln wrote it out, corrected it once, then delivered it with Biblical cadences and phrasing. He was not the main speaker that day and was expected to say little, deferring to the lead orator. History proved otherwise, at least in importance. 

Ms. Noonan writes of this because, of course, it is the week of our nation’s birthday when we reflect on our innocent origins and giant ideals. It is a time when we as Americans consider from where we have come, where we are today, and where we are heading. We consider liberty and equality and the health of the Union. In 1863, at the close of the terrible war against slavery that divided our country, brother against brother, equality for all became the rallying cry for the North. Slavery of any kind denies equality and liberty. No one has the right to own another. In the course of the history of man, Caucasians have been enslaved, Asians have been enslaved, Africans have been enslaved, all owned as though they were products, as though they had no unalienable rights, no human dignity. These tragedies cry out to us, from Roman galleys to southern plantations.

So today, we say, there is no slavery. But many disagree, saying the unborn are the slaves of our modern world. Since 1972, when the Supreme Court ruled in essence that a woman owned the child within her, the unborn became slaves. And this ruling continues to be the law of the land, allowing women to own innocent Americans, to have the power of life and death.

Today a civil war rages in the hearts, minds, and bodies of our citizens. The divide is deep and is similar to the nineteenth-century Civil War we recall this autumn of 2013. I do not know what the outcome of today’s civil war will be, but I cry for our country so divided.

And like many others in many other times in history, I pray for an end to this slavery. I pray for every American to be equal under the law, from the moment of conception, for we are meant to be a nation of liberty and equality for all. And as Abraham Lincoln said, such a war is a test “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure… “

Can we long endure? Many have died in this cause, millions aborted each year, mothers shattered by grief, fathers mourning their lost children, grandparents never knowing their grandchildren. The count rises. President Lincoln’s words ring true for us today:

“…we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

As an American, on this 237th birthday of Independence, I resolve this too.