As with many other attitudes, patriotism is easy to feign. Citizenship in this country is more than a matter of birth or formal naturalization. At the heart of patriotism lies attitudes that are rooted in religion, integrity and family relationships.
Recently in San Francisco, a U.S. Circuit Court declared the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional because of the words “under God.” In an interview on NBC’s “Today Show,” the man who brought the suit to court proclaimed that “surely our founding fathers had no intention of allowing God to be in any part of our government.”
I, for one, happen to believe that the God himself raised up wise men to establish the constitution of this land. When you look at the circumstances surrounding the signing of the Constitution, it
is, as George Washington himself said, “little short of a miracle.” In 1783, as delegates assembled to amend the Articles of Confederation, there were alarming signs of disunity. Several men were reluctant, virtually everyone was in debt causing travel delays that set commencement back 11 days, and some prominent citizens had even begun negotiations to rejoin the British crown.
It took the delegates more than three months to draft the Constitution. Finally, they were able to put aside their narrow sectional loyalties and agree on a strong central government. These were men of intelligence, wisdom, and integrity. Truly, men of God.
As moral citizens of this country we have a responsibility to study the Constitution, learn its history and teach our children of their duty to uphold it.
Shirley Thomas, a mother and Christian author, suggested relating the Bill of Rights to family responsibilities and relationships. Several of the basic rights found in the Bill of Rights are directly applicable to the home. For example, teaching about the right of privacy, one can develop pride in being accountable for personal possessions. Our right against discrimination, when taught in the home, will make each family member feel loved and important when their contributions are acknowledged. When taught correctly, these principals can easily transfer from home to country.
We must also exercise our indispensable right to vote. The importance of learning about issues, studying candidates and finally voting is an opportunity that is too often taken for granted. It is our moral responsibility to elect women and men of integrity into our government. This duty to take part in government affairs is more critical now than ever before. Non-belief is becoming more sponsored politically than is belief.
James E. Faust, a prominent lawyer and religious leader, spoke of this when he said, “There seems to be developing a new civil religion. The civil religion I refer to is a secular religion. It has no moral absolutes. It is nondenominational. It is non-theistic. It is politically focused. It is antagonistic to religion. It rejects the historic religious traditions of America. It feels strange. If this trend continues, non-belief will be more honored than belief. While all beliefs must be protected, are atheism, agnosticism, cynicism, and moral relativism to be more safeguarded and valued than Christianity, Judaism, and the tenets of Islam, which hold that there is a Supreme Being and that mortals are accountable to Him? If so, this would, in my opinion, place America in great moral jeopardy.” By simply voting, we make our moral voices known in a society of moral disintegration. Another thing we can do to live the principals of the Constitution is to take part in our own community. Volunteer to clean up a park, serve on the PTA, and involve yourself in good causes. Working to make our country a better place can instill in us a profound patriotism that cannot be achieved in any other way.
I was inspired a few weeks ago when the members of a community congregation donated their monthly potluck dinner to feed firefighters and people evacuated from their homes. This is the type of charity that impacts our community greatly.
Finally, it is our responsibility to live our morals. To explore our beliefs and strengthen our testimonies of them. Simple things like prayer, scripture study, church meetings and family activities can have a profound effect on our lives and the lives of our family members.
This Fourth of July you would have seen me with a red, white and blue T-shirt, perhaps waving an American flag, and you can be sure that this outward display of patriotism simply reflects my inward convictions and the things closest to my heart.