Now that I am comfortably settled back into my little nook (or cranny, if you will), I find myself prone to reflection upon our trip to Boston. I think I can best express my thoughts and feelings by suggesting and enlarging upon four words…
With the “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” sentiment clearly in our nation’s rearview mirror, a national field trip to Boston’s Freedom Trail may be just the thing to get a people drifting into the open arms and empty promises of socialism back on track. Walking the same cobblestone streets trod by freedom fighters and leaders like John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere awakened feelings in me I hadn’t noted since Ronald Reagan inspired me with his “shining city on a hill” passion.
The men and women who chose freedom’s path over tyranny did so at great personal risk…and for many, even greater personal cost. They were labeled traitors to the Crown. They were, in many quarters, unpopular rockers of the boat called “safety and status quo.” They were not lauded and heralded as emancipators or liberty fighters until after the fact. There in Boston, the hotbed of American patriotism, I gained a greater appreciation for what these men and women of vision and principle gave to me.
A couple entries ago, I talked about the Christian’s changing attitude and perspective on pride. I have not changed my mind. I still think pride is the precursor to destruction, just as the Proverbs asserts. I have always been proud to be an American, but I think our national pride has weakened us.
Where once American leaders humbly passed the glory to the God who deserves it, we find ourselves now led by those who would have us believe that being American makes us special or better than everyone and anyone who is not. That kind of arrogance has resulted in a fat and sassy citizenry with its chin up and its hand out. We vote people into office, not because we think them statesmen or patriots or men and women of ideals, but because we think they can “fix” the economy (aka, make sure I get mine).
Bill Clinton said it: “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t even pretend to give a damn about anything of substance or lasting value. Just make the populace feel secure and they will love you.
If an American politician today said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” the voters would oblige…and kill his political career forever. If he said, “Look, the way we must go is a hard way, and it will cost us dearly,” he wouldn’t have a prayer. Not even 9/11 could move us from our bed of ease for long. We have no stomach for the fight anymore.
But…we sure do have our pride. Don’t we?
One thing I sensed as I traversed Boston was that the city, or at least its leaders, have and have had a sense of purpose. They are committed to preserving their place in history for posterity. But they don’t just look to the past. Etched in the sidewalk very near the statue of Sam Adams were words encouraging Bostonians to look to the future; to remain leaders in and of the free world; to continue to set trends, rather than just follow them.
In this day of being too sophisticated to be moved by sentiments we label as “corny,” I found it refreshing that a great American city takes such an official stand. As I watched people walk on the words carved into the sidewalk without giving them so much as a cursory glance, I wondered briefly if those words were wasted. I quickly decided, however, that they were not. Some are beyond inspiration, sure. But not all.
There was a busload of elementary school kids walking the Freedom Trail at the same time we did. On their trip from New York, their bus caught on fire. Everyone was gotten off safely, and they were transported to their destination by another bus. Those kids, for the most part, listened intently to their guides (who were dressed in 1700s garb). They stopped to read the words on the sidewalks and bases of the statues. They had been taken to Boston by teachers and volunteer parents to gain…
Keith and Debbie and Donya and I had a great time in Boston. We laughed together. We played together. We ate incredible food and visited memorable places. I will probably write a lighter testament to our revelings in a day or three…and tell you how it was both tiring and refreshing.
But for now, I just want to say that the trip gave me a fresh perspective. By gaining a greater appreciation for – and understanding of – our past, we are better equipped to make our mark in the present and seek for ourselves and our posterity a better and brighter future.
I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.