Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Character of a Nation

"To ride, shoot straight and speak the truth,
This was the ancient law of youth.
Old times are gone, old days are done;
But the law runs true, my little son."
(Source unknown, probably dating back to ancient Persia and modified in the late 19th century.)

That poem, which I recall seeing on a statue at some point in my youth, always rang true in me.  Even at a young age, I recognized that the concepts of being able to get where you need to be, get the job done and do it honestly were the gist of the statement.

Though it may not be necessary to ride a horse any more, the idea of being able to get going--to be self-motivated--is certainly displayed within the "riding" statement.  Riding was inclusive of many things: caring for the horse, proper care and use of the equipment; it was not just jumping on and going, there was a process involved.  Those who are the self-starters in this world, the hard workers, always have the process of their labor--which should be something to be enjoyed, not dreaded--to keep them going.

Shooting straight might not be necessary, (though maybe more necessary in some areas); but the idea of being able to protect and care for yourself is certainly embodied here also.  In a society where most folks are waiting for "THE GOVERNMENT" to take care of all their needs, this is something to which we need to return.  Earning a living, acquiring and keeping property are but small parts of this. We need also to build relationships and rebuild the sense of community that allowed our nation to leave largely at peace.

Speaking the truth and living with integrity ought to be simple yet seem to be dying characteristics of today's culture.  Truth is relative, or so we're told...and that's if it's necessary at all!  (Evasion of truth developed into an art-form under the presidency of Bill Clinton.)  My truth is not necessarily your truth....  HOGWASH!  Truth is truth. As truth suffers, a nation dies.

Another wonder old saying, much older and with a known author, points us in the right direction.
"... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things."

The author of that gem is the Apostle Paul, writing to the Church in Philippi in the first century AD.  If we were to think on only those things, if our governments would contemplate only those things and make decisions according only those simple principles, think of how things would be.  Just imagine the character of our culture, the nation would live.  We would grow to again be a vibrant, productive people at peace with each other--and more importantly, with our God.

Self-motivation, self-sufficiency and integrity, are things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  Three things that are suffering in our nation, and without them our nation will die.

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