I don’t normally do this. Like, ever.
I’m a religious fellow. God believer and all that. But this blog is home to religious and non-religious alike, so I try not to allow my faith to alienate those who believe otherwise.
I’m also an American. A large chunk of my audience is non-American.
And yet today is my nation’s Independence Day. How can I not be American today?
And since I’m being proudly American, can I not be proudly religious?
But stay with me, non-Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, and Muslims. Stick around Australians, French, and Polynesians.
I’m hoping there’s a message for everyone here.
A story of patriotism
A few years ago I was running late to a meeting. The wife asked me to drop off something at my son’s school. (Must have been a permission slip or something). I was already late, but I grudgingly agreed.
I arrived after the bell rang and I rushed into the school office. I was sprinting back to my car when I heard the cackle of the intercom.
“Please rise for the pledge of allegiance,” the voice over the intercom said.
For those non-Americans, this is a tradition in public schools where students place their right hand over their heart, look at the American flag, and recite:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
I’d been trained as a child to respect this solemn recitation.
But I was in a hurry. So I ignored the call to solemnity.
But then my conscience gnawed at me.
But I was in a hurry.
But I knew better.
I stopped sprinting, crossed my hand over my heart, and recited, for the first time in about ten years, the pledge of allegiance.
And I tell you what–never have I been so overcome with feelings of patriotism. I may have even got a little choked up. Or maybe a lot choked up.
I was publicly proclaiming my allegiance to my country.
It’s a shame we no longer have these sorts of reminders of the sacrifices others have made for our country. It’s a shame ceremonies are diluted in the fervor of sporting competitions so that we forget what that flag symbolizes–
To be honest, most of us don’t have to think about freedom. Few of us feel terribly constrained by a dictatorial government. Few of us have to fear whether our public opinions will lead to our execution. Few of us must fear being discovered praying in secret.
And yet, there are hints that, even in America, the noose over the neck of freedom is slowly tightening around our necks. (See my last blog post).
Let me first quote some Mormon scripture. This scripture came at a time when an ancient king, near the end of his life, suggested the form of government be switched from a monarchy to a democracy. In his words, he said, “Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.”
Translation? Rarely will the majority of the people vote for something wrong.
Good news, right?
Another Mormon scripture: “And others will [the Devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in [America]; yea, [America] prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”
(Yes, minor liberties were taken with this scripture.)
So what’s the connection?
Well, on average, the majority of the people will choose what is best for the people. But, if we’re not careful, the enemies of freedom will lull us lovers of liberty into silence and carefully lead us to hell.
How so, you ask?
Perhaps these words or thoughts are familiar:
I’m one of 300 million people. My vote doesn’t count.
I’m sure someone else will stand for my rights.
I just don’t care about politics.
I’m just one person. What could I possibly do?
Sometimes I wonder whether the majority will be silenced by such thoughts. Then when the noose tightens, it’s too late.
And I get it. I totally do. Watching the primary debates was overwhelming, depressing, and nauseating. When I think of the problems that plague our country, I’m tempted to give up and hope for the best.
But the best won’t come if I sit back and let this happen.
So what do you do?
The minimal we can do to protect our liberty is to vote. Yes, I know, the political landscape this year ain’t all that appealing. But hey, did you know there’s other alternatives to Hillary or Trump?
You can join an organization that believes as you believe. Passionate about eradicating hunger? How about the constitution? Or perhaps equal rights for women? There’s lots of organizations out there just as passionate that need your help.
You can write a congressman
You can join or organize a protest.
Yes, you’re just one person. But so was Martin Luther King. So was Gandhi. So was Nelson Mandela.
Now go change something.