Friday, November 09, 2007

Our Responsibility

One of my favorite quotes - and my instinct says that it was Hamilton - goes like this: that which we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly. In other words, inherited riches are more likely to be squandered than those earned by one's labors.

Reading Mom's comment from the post immediately preceding this one, I was reminded of this truth. Is it any wonder that most Americans are so uninterested in matters governmental? If we've been given freedom at no cost to ourselves, isn't it simply natural to take this for granted?

Here's another rather unoriginal idea: I think that each and every generation should struggle for freedom and liberty; or, I should say, so I hope. While our challenges will be different than prior generations, our efforts at preserving and increasing liberty should be the same. The greatest generation fought fascism. Perhaps our generation will be called to fight another destructive ideology (Liberalism). Perhaps our fight will be less intellectual than that. Indeed there are destructive ideologies working right now for the destruction of the Republic.

I can't think of a reason to assume that we won't be faced with a struggle for survival in our time, nor can I think of a reason that I shouldn't prepare my children for the same fight. Should they grow up in a peaceful world without conflict, I'll thank the Lord that he let us fight to win that condition. Yet, as surely as I value the fight for liberty in this time, would my children be better served living a life unaware of how precious liberty is?


Terry Morris said...

Great post, Mike! I don't know whether the exact quote you cite can be attributed to Hamilton or not. It seems like some variation on it is attributable to many of the founders. But it reminds me of the old adage which states that character is built through adversity. I think this is very true, and personally I would have it no other way. And I would add that liberty is unique to people of character. There is one problem that I've noted on the concept, however. While many will generally assent to the truth of the adage, when you apply the concept to particular circumstances (say, someone struggling to make ends meet as an example), people tend to count this as an unacceptable application of the principle. It serves no useful purpose, say they, that people have to struggle to keep the lights on in their homes. I'll share a bit of anecdotal evidence...

You know of the Oklahoma based organization, "Feed the Children." A couple of years ago, as I recall, I got up early one morning and turned on the tv, and one of their programs happened to be on. Generally I would simply switch the channel, but on this occasion I noticed that they were on an Air Force base passing out food to "underpaid" airmen. They were lamenting that these poor airmen and their families were unnecessarily suffering due to the fact that the base pay of the lower ranking enlisted personnel in the U.S. military is simply not enough to support a small family, which is total and absolute hogwash!

It hasn't been that many years ago that I was in the A.F. with a small family, struggling to make ends meet. And yes, it was a struggle. But, see, we simply chose not to squander what little we had on beer and entertainment and such as that. So, essentially, I found that program to be especially offensive. It didn't even hint at the other side of the story. The other side of the story being, of course, those young airmen on military bases all over the country who, though it is a struggle, resist the temptation to squander away their limited resources on unnecessaries, and might I say "immoralities."

You left leaners chew on that for awhile.


Michael Tams said...


Thanks for the comments. Your personal experience is a wonderful example of the adversity paradox - that while it may seem something ideally avoided, it nevertheless is exactly what one should want for a happy life. Without adversity, we fail to realize our better selves.

Something worth reminding ourselves and our progeny of, whenever the situation presents itself!


Call Me Mom said...

I think adversity is what defines you to yourself.

Taking a stand in a moment of challenge is not a true test of one's character because so many factors go into how you will react. The true test is the ability to face the same circumstances day after day and still hold to your principles.

A true act of charity allows the recipient to remain themselves. How much better would it have been for those families needing that food to be able to do some work for it? How much better a lesson would that have been for the children of those families?

I am reminded of a story I heard once about a farmer during the depression. Men would often come to his door asking for food. He would tell them they were welcome to join his family for dinner and he would give them a lunch for the next day as well if they would do him the favor of moving a pile of wood from one side of his fence to the other as it was something he wanted to have done, but hadn't found time to do himself. If they were willing to do the work, he was as good as his word, otherwise he would send them on their way. The farmer lost count of how many times that wood pile got moved from one side of the fence to the other.

It seems to me that a lot of folks would be better off if we remembered that it builds a person up to allow them to help themselves, but it tears them down to let them think that they can't.

Michael Tams said...


You bring up a great point in your comment. There's a respect for human dignity in work and in allowing someone to help himself/herself. The idea is to provide a hand-up, not a hand-out. How curious that people on the Left are utterly tone-deaf to this simple truth.


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