Tag Archives: Patriotism

Excerpt from “What Really Ails America” By William J. Bennett

     There are things we need to realize as citizens of what has always been called the greatest country on earth.  The freedoms we enjoy have been fought for, and others have paid a price for them.  With freedom comes responsibility.  We have a responsibility to use our freedom to build, to make better, to improve, and to help and love people around us.  Our country is great because our people are great, but if our great people do not stand up for what they believe in; if they’re not willing to fight for what’s right, then our great people have ceased to be great, and our country will cease to be great.  You have a question to answer.  Will you be great?  Will you stand for what you believe in?  Will you fight for what’s right? 
     We can no longer afford to be a people who leave it to others to do what we should do ourselves.  You can make a difference.  You have the ability to touch someone with your life.  You can teach, You can inform, You can help, You can love.  You have no excuse.  Will you make the choice to be great?
     We must give voice, hands, and feet to our faith, to our beliefs, to our values every day that we live.  God does not call His people to stand aside, to lay down, to give way to evil without so much as a by your leave, and if you think He does then you had better ask yourself whether you truly know Him or not. 
     The following is an excerpt from a speech that really shows where our country is at.  A line in the sand is being drawn, and our country (Our Great Country) hangs in the balance.  Which side of that line are you going to be on?

Last year I compiled the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, a statistical portrait of American behavioral trends of the past three decades. Among the findings: Since 1960, while the gross domestic product has nearly tripled, violent crime has increased at least 560%. Divorces have more than doubled. The percentage of children in single-parent homes had tripled. And by the end of the decade 40% of all American births and 80% of minority births will occur out of wedlock. These are not good things to get used to.

In 1940 teachers identified the top problems in America’s schools as: Talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise and running in the hall. In 1990, teachers listed drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, suicide, rape and assault. These are not good things to get used to, either.

There is a coarseness, a callousness and a cynicism to our era. The worst of it has to do with our children. Our culture seems almost dedicated to the corruption of the young. We have become inured to the cultural rot that is setting in. People are losing their capacity for shock, disgust and outrage…

The ancients called our problem acedia, an aversion to spiritual things and an undue concern for the external and the worldly. Acedia also is the seventh capital sin–sloth–but it does not mean mere laziness. The slothful heart is stepped in the worldly and carnal, hates the spiritual and wants to be free of its demands.

When the novelist Walker Percy was asked what concerned him most about America’s future, he answered, “Probably the fear of seeing America, with all its great strength and beauty and freedom…gradually subside into decay through default and be defeated, not by the communist movement, but from within, from weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed and in the end helplessness before its great problems.”

I realize this is a tough indictment. If my diagnosis is wrong, then why, amid our economic prosperity and military security, do almost 70% of the public say we are off track? I submit that only when we turn to the right things–enduring, noble, spiritual things–will life get better.

Most important, we must return religion to its proper place. Religion provides us with moral bearings, and the solution to our chief problem of spiritual impoverishment depends on spiritual renewal. The surrendering of strong beliefs, in our private and public lives, has demoralized society.

Today, much of society ridicules and mocks those who are serious about their faith. America’s only respectable form of bigotry is bigotry against religious people. And the only reason for hatred of religion is that it forces us to confront matters many would prefer to ignore.

Today we must carry on a new struggle for the country we love. We must push hard against an age that is pushing hard against us. If we have full employment and greater economic growth–if we have cities of gold and alabaster–but our children have not learned how to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then the American experiment, no matter how gilded, will have failed.

Do not surrender. Get mad. Get in the fight.

Excerpts from What Really Ails America, condensed from a speech by William J. Bennett, delivered December 7, 1993 at the Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C., reprinted in Reader’s Digest, April, 1994.

A Thought on the Debt of Love

A Debt of Love

      A while back, I had the honor to give back to a woman who had given to me.  To truly repay her for what she gave me in the way of time and attention and sacrifice, wasn’t possible, but I had to try. I’ve always felt that those of us who have been fortunate enough to receive the love of others have a debt to be paid. A debt of love.

     Now there are those who don’t think they owe anybody anything; that there’s no debt to repay. Perhaps that’s true, but I can’t seem to accept it.  To my parents, I certainly feel indebted, though they’d tell me I’m not, but when I think of all they’ve given I can’t help but feel that there’s a debt there.

     Then there are the myriad of others who in one way or another gave of themselves, and in the process, gave me a piece of the puzzle that was to eventually become the person I am today. Now, I’m far from perfect-anyone who knows me can attest to that-but I’m far better than I would have been had I not been given those gifts I received down through the years.

     I think of my country. This land of freedom that has given it’s men and women an opportunity to go as far as their dedication, determination and talent would take them.  I know in my heart, no other country on earth is as great. I think of those brave men and women who came so long ago in search of a new life; a life in which they could be free to worship God as they chose, and who could prosper from their own hard work. This freedom means everything, and it saddens me so many take it for granted, and fail to realize and appreciate the people who have paid for it.  How can I not feel that I owe a debt to this country, and the men and women who have served it?

     Without shame or apology, I say to everyone reading this that, I believe, we all have a debt to repay.  The sad truth is too many of us don’t feel like we owe anyone anything.  Too many of us have forgotten the things that make this country great, and the people who helped to make us what we are. To those of us who have been fortunate enough to experience the love of a parent, grandparent, or teacher, I tell you that I believe you owe a debt that must be repaid.

     It’s ironic that we live in a country so mired in debt that even our grandchildren’s children won’t be free of it, and where the majority of it’s citizens live by it’s example, and yet the most important debt we have is the one we think the least about and that’s simply to love.

     Of all the tragic things that have happened to our country, the most tragic is that we’ve failed to uphold and perpetuate the traditions and core values that have made our country the bastion of freedom it’s supposed to be.   We’ve become a nation of people who love themselves far more than they ever loved the God who guided them to it’s shores.

     Sadly, we’ve become a nation only too willing to embrace every form of wickedness.  We’ve perverted every honorable and decent thing we’ve ever done. We pay lip service to our country’s motto, “In God We Trust” but in our minds and hearts we are far from Him.  We’ve shown how willing we are to remove any and every vestige of Him, not only from our hallowed institutions, but from the very fiber of our beings as well.  We, as a country and a people, are failing to pay our debt of love by failing to honor the God we supposedly pay homage to, and by our failure to live by the example of His Son.

     I wonder how long we can afford to do so.