Responsibility of Privilege
Gibbons listed one of the elements of Rome's fall as "getting to the point where they craved excitement. This ultimately led to moral abuse." I am convinced an unbridled craving for excitement leads to moral abuse - - - always. it seems to me we need more Horatio Algers and a whole lot less Supermen. Any time our longing for thrills outdistances our urging for accomplishment, we are in trouble. Whenever we trade entertainment for attainment, we are headed down.
Recently, I was debating at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. In a dramatic moment, he rose to a grand crescendo and declared, "Communism moves forward on an empty belly." I had to refute him. "Communism doesn't move forward on an empty belly --- it moves forward on an empty soul." If it were empty bellies, then our forefathers in Jamestown would have given up hope of democracy. But they didn't. They had something to build for --- they had something in their souls.
We must watch that law remain prohibitive, and not permissive. Our freedom is at risk when the law tells us what we can do, not just what we cannot.
We, as Americans, must not sacrifice freedom for security. I like the difference between the American oyster and the American eagle. When God made the oyster, He put a big thick shell around him, put him deep in the water, and provided him constant nourishment. Whenever he gets hungry, he just opens his mouth, sucks in food, and then shuts his jaws. When God made the eagle, He put out in the mountains and said, "Build your own nest and fight your own enemies, and raise your own young, and provide your own food, and stand against the wind and the rain. But I will give you the great blue sky to fly in and the strength to endure." I am so thankful we are Eagle, not oyster, people.
It seems to me people are talking more about rights, than about responsibilities. The 19th century focused on responsibilities --- we are creating a century of rights. I think difficult times follow the emphasis on claiming our rights rather than recognizing our responsibilities.
Gibbons was an infidel. Yet, as a true historian, he gave this reason for the fall of Rome: the decline of religion. As I travel, I see people who are afraid, yet turning to faith for answers. What happens when people become afraid? Panic breaks loose. What's the cure for it? Faith. Faith in ourselves, each other, and in God.
If there is any lesson I would like to leave with you, it is this: people fail through fear, not inability. We in America must keep our faith. It's our great privilege to be an American. It's our great responsibility because there is the responsibility of privilege.
To that I say, "Well said, Fred!"