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Virtue, Greatness and Government
We are probably one of the best educated generations that has ever existed, but as prophesied of us, we are “ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7) This is because our knowledge is not in order. We live in an age of uncertainty and anxiety. The once tall an stately mountains of virtue and towering ideals have been eroded and left us in a sand-dune society, in a desert of disbelief, where there are no landmarks, no north, no south, no east or west --- only the uncertainty of blowing sand. We are floundering in the dust of despair producing greater depression and other mental disorders that we have ever known before in America.
The point: without a solid standard of virtue, we have the opposite --- nothing is solid, firm or reliable --- everything becomes unstable, untrustworthy, questionable and confusing. Vice can grow rampant in such a situation where there is no guiding star, model or ideal to look up to. And the danger is obvious, because in the long run, vice eternally results in everything ugly, everything unhappy, sordid and sad, mean and low-down, corrupt and extremely hurtful. But what people do not realize is “. . . when you remove God from a society, you remove the basis for a moral code. . . .” (John Noble, I Found God in Soviet Russia, St. Martin's Press, 1959, pp. 29-30) Without God society has no foundation or solid ground upon which to stand. And this is serious for if history teaches us anything, it reveals that all great governments and states have disintegrated when they became corrupt. No government cannot flourish long without virtue. Virtue is the morter that holds the bricks of state together. George Washington said, ". . . True religion affords to government its surest support." (The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1932), Vol. XXX, p. 432) No other basis can provide something sturdy enough for all generations to admire.
If man were not fallen by nature, not corrupt, not deceived and easily mislead, but full of light and truth, he could create from within himself a universal moral code without God. But everyone of us is less than perfect, blind in some way, ignorant or undiscerning to some extent and are therefore incapable of fully comprehending what is truly right and wrong.
No matter how sincerely I believe I am absolutely and totally right about some moral issue, someone else will strongly disagree. We can all get things way off, because we tend to see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear and believe what we want to believe. If I want to do drugs, I will justify it or rationalize it in some way or another.
There is the saying, "we do not see things as they are, but as we are." If I am full of lust and greed, I will read opportunities for lust and greed into everything I look at. Hence, things get distorted and the result is a twisted paradigm or philosophy that fits with my perverse way of perceiving. Only God can give us the universal, absolute and uncontaminated morality.
Every nation that has attempted to build an empire on godless atheism has failed and failed so miserably that greater crime and atrocities were committed and recovery from its effects are still being felt, for example, in what is left of the Soviet Union.
God-less morality just doesn't work and, no wonder, for what is taught in its place is what is called relativism or situational ethics. Two decades ago they called it "valuesclarification." People should set their own standards of behavior according to their own values. But since everyone's values are different, there seems to be no standard by which we must all live.
No society can survive if there only rule is "anything goes" if you value it. If all things are a matter of preference, and nothing is a matter of principle, why not let Dracula be in charge of the blood bank, or put Bin Ladin in charge of the most powerful military on earth? Shall we put a raving lunatic in charge of nuclear bombs?
The truth is private morality has a way of having public consequences. It is a well known fact that cigarette smoking costs the lives of about 500,000 people a year in the United States. If you lined all the corpses up, who died each year directly from tobacco use, head to toe, it would create a line 500 miles long. It is that serious. Drug and alcohol abuse cost us approximately about 216 billion dollars a year because of related sickness, accidents and loss of productivity as well as 200 billion more in our efforts to fight this unholy alliance.
In a desert of disbelief wherein God-given core values are discounted, crime, tragedies and terror thrive and all the unfairness and injustices that goes with them. They grow faster than the population. In other words, the battle is being lost. But because of this, we run the risk of being buried in an avalanche of appetite and unstable, fickle feelings, passions and lusts. We are adrift in a morally contaminated world built on sand. There may be justifications for a snowball, but not for an avalanche.
We want everything right NOW! The NOW generation has created a throw away society wanting instant gratification without principle. Our civilization if it continues the way it is going will teeter on the brink of destruction and go back to the law of the jungle (a state of lawlessness) were there are no morals, no scruples, no guidelines. A civilization built on dirt cannot stand. We need to have a love for what God gave us.
Ray Cotton in an article he wrote entitled, “Morality Apart From God: Is It Possible?,” describes how corrupted values can make or break a nation into a state of horror, fear, intimidation and emotional anguish and pain. He wrote:
Intellectuals like Nietzsche, Spinoza, and Tillich and many others who have followed them have tried to create a godless society, a society free to create its own ethical system without the constraints of God-given mandates.
What can we expect if these leaders are able to advance their model for a system of ethics that has no need for God?
An interesting example may be the story of the medical profession in Germany during the Nazi regime. The medical profession is supposed to be the protector of human life. The Hippocratic Oath, that dates back to the Egyptians, states the highest standards of trust for those dedicating themselves to this honorable profession.
How did the medical profession in Germany become nothing more than an instrument of death in the hands of the Nazis? First, one's view of the nature of man had to change from that of a spiritual being to that of a purely physical being of no universal value beyond what society places on the individual. Through years of assault upon traditional morals and biblical truths, the German people began to see mankind through the eyes of German philosophers like Nietzsche and Hiedigger. These men viewed humanity as strictly flesh and blood, different from the animals only in progression, not in basic nature.(3)
Once the German population in general, and the medical profession in particular, was sold on a collectivist-authoritarian way of life, everything was in place to use the medical profession to accomplish the purposes of the Third Reich.
The Nazi holocaust began with a subtle shift in attitude that judged the value of people based upon their cost/benefit ratio to the state. First, it started with sterilization and euthanasia of people with severe psychiatric illnesses. Soon all those with chronic illness were being exterminated. Before too long, all patients who had been sick for five years or more, or were medically unable to work and unlikely to recover were transported to killing centers; what started as "mercy killings" in rare cases of extreme mental illness soon expanded to mass extermination on an unprecedented scale. Before long all those who could not work and were medically evaluated as incapable of being rehabilitated were killed.(4)
The German medical profession then started using human body parts for medical research, and this led to the grisly "terminal human experiments," in which live people were used in medical experiments.(5)
It all started with the idea that humans belong to society and the state. According to this view, if someone is a burden to society and the state, it is logical to conclude that their life was not a life worth living. From the first decision to put to death burdensome mental patients, a chain of events followed that ultimately led to the death of the majority of all the Jews in Europe, as well as millions of other "undesirables." (2009: www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/god-ethi.html)
3. Leo Alexander, Medical Science Under Dictatorship (Flushing, N.Y.: Bibliographic Press, 1996), p. 9.
5. Maccaro, James A., "'From Small Beginnings:' The Road to Genocide," The Freeman (August 1997), pp. 479-81.
He concluded that:
. . . If we don't believe we are created by God, but [are] simply highly evolved animals, and if we believe we have accountability only to society, then there is no end to the depths of depravity that we can go in our search to justify our actions. Corrosion of morals begins in microscopic proportions, but if not checked by a standard beyond ourselves, it will continue until the corrosion wipes away the very [fabric of our society as well as the] foundation of our [own personal] lives, and we find ourselves sinking [or drowning] in a sea or [the bottomless mire] of relativity. (Ibid.)
The new morality is nothing more than the old immorality. We need to get back to the values that made this country great. Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1800's said it well when he wrote about his discoveries and research about American. He said:
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers - and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce --- and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution --- and it vas not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great. (2009: www.tocqueville.org/pitney.htm)
The founding fathers of the United States of America knew about the inseparable connection between virtue and greatness and the need of a heartfelt devotion to the values reveal by heaven.
Samuel Adams taught, "Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation. . . ." (Ibid.) To attempt to build on any other will not have any lasting impact.
John Adams said, "The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People . . . they will not obtain a lasting Liberty." And he wrote: "Religion and virtue are the only [lasting] foundations . . . of all free government . . . ." (Ibid.)
Benjamin Rush declared, "Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind." He also wrote: "The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty. . . ." (Ibid.) In other words, everything falls apart.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, ". . . Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed [them from] their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?"
No nation ever became great without genuine virtue in the common man. Vice, the opposite of virtue, cannot support a lawful, happy and prosperous people. It only promotes lawlessness and everything evil and wrong. A country dominated by vice creates a heartwrenching existence full of atrocities. Nothing but morality and a deep and abiding love for God can stop wrongdoing from mangling almost everyone's life in such a nation. John Quincy Adams declared:
. . . We have no government capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. (2009: http://meetthefounders.blogspot.com
The truth is, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”(Benjamin Franklin, 2009: www.iapn.org/Articlelibertymoral.htm) In other words, they need more laws, more government interference and micro-management, more policemen and instruments of force and coercion --- the very things which destroy freedom. As William Penn wrote, “Those who will not be governed by God [or will rule themselves], will be ruled by tyrants.” (Ibid.)
No wonder, all the great philosophers have almost always agreed that virtue should be an ultimate guide to human actions and is necessary to lead a self-fulfilling and happy life. Virtue is universally recognized as good, wholesome and right, but these ideals are lived with great difficulty. The natural tendency is to do whatever feels good instead of what is honorable, beautiful, and right. It becomes next to impossible unless people fear or reverence something greater than themselves --- something worthy of their highest devotion and respect. In this field, nothing can measure up to this highest of all, the worship and adoration of the God of heaven, who is ideal, perfect and powerful beyond anything we know of on earth. Everything else can take second place to it, because it is imperfect and therefore sooner or later will be disappointing.
For example, the horrors of addiction, especially substance abuse, are considered to be one of the hardest things to overcome in this life. They are like steel cages that no one can get out of. But generally the most successful, those who maintain themselves, nearly always have built up a connection with deity that spiritually nourishes them and frees them from the awful chains of alcohol or drug abuse and dependence.
The following is not to support or denigrate any particular religion, it is merely presented here to support the thesis that there is a powerful connection between religion and morality. This connection can be demonstrated statistically. For example, somewhere around 70% of the State of Utah are active or inactive members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and 20% other faiths. Aside from the emotionalism of the deep South, Utah is one of the most religious States in the country. The nation as a whole is considerably less religious. (http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE
Our contention is that religion generally fosters greater moral integrity than would otherwise exist in the lives of the people if they were not too religious. State of Utah statistics in comparison with all other states lends a great deal of support this idea. Different studies show that Utah has:
(1) the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the United States,
(2) the first lowest and third, in another study, lowest abortion rate in the United States,
(3) ranked as the best state to raise children in and the third best in another study,
(4) highest birth rate in the nation, lowest out-of-wedlock births in the United States,
(5) LDS women are generally more likely to graduate from college and work in professions than others,
(6) Utah spends less on welfare programs and has the lowest child poverty rate in the nation,
(7) the lowest rates of smoking, alcohol use, lung cancer in the United States,
(8) Provo, Utah was rated as the healthiest city for women in the nation,
(9) Findings show that young Mormon men living in Utah, who closely adhere to the dictates of their faith are less likely to commit suicide than their peers who are less active in the church,
(10) divorce, AIDS, suicide rates show Utah to be the fourth best state in the Union,
(11) Utah was ranked 7th best academically in the nation, despite the fact that the state spent less money on education than any other state,
(12) Utah ranked first in the nation in both Advanced Placement exams taken and exams passed on a per capita basis,
(13) Utah has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the nation (3rd best in one study and 2nd in another)
(14) Mormons marrying within their church are least likely of all Americans to become divorced.
(15) As Latter-day Saints become more educated, they are more likely to be active Church participants, a trend opposite of what is found in most denominations,
(16) Salt Lake City-Ogden metro area were ranked as the best places to live in North America,
(17) Utah ranks low in joining the military services, but the fourth highest among all states in the proportion of "high-quality" enlistees,
(18) Utah has the largest average family size in the country,
(19) Utah ranked 12th for the lowest general crime rate in the nation, and
Interestingly, a recent poll, of Americans' well-being, conducted by Gallup in partnership with Healthways and America's Health Insurance Plans, put Utah as the happiest and healthiest place in America. (March 11, 2009: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap
Michael McCullough, a University of Miami professor and colleagues, evaluated eight decades of research on religion conducted with people all over the world through the lenses of diverse sciences, such as, neuroscience, economics, psychology, and sociology. His findings are "that religious people have more self-control than do their less religious counterparts." (ScienceDaily 2009: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12
/081231005355.htm) As a direct result they ". . . may be better at pursuing and achieving long-term goals that are important to them. . . . This, in turn, might help explain why religious people tend to have lower rates of substance abuse, better school achievement, less delinquency, better health behaviors, less depression, and longer lives." (Ibid.)
Among the more interesting conclusions that the research team drew were the following:
Religious rituals such as prayer and meditation affect the parts of the human brain that are most important for self-regulation and self-control;
When people view their goals as "sacred," they put more energy and effort into pursuing those goals, and therefore, are probably more effective at attaining them;
Religious lifestyles may contribute to self-control by providing people with clear standards for their behavior, by causing people to monitor their own behavior more closely, and by giving people the sense that God is watching their behavior;
The fact that religious people tend to be higher in self-control helps explain why religious people are less likely to misuse drugs and alcohol and experience problems with crime and delinquency. (Ibid.)
The conclusion is obvious, religion generally promotes higher rates of ethical, moral and productive behavior. Religion is not the opiate of the people --- only corrupt or corrupted religion does this. Some can inspire people ". . . to strap bomb belts around their waists and then blow themselves up in crowded city buses [killing innocent people]." (Ibid.) But religions, that breathe love into their people to the point that they want to be peacemakers and have good will in their hearts, is the religion of true virtue and greatness. Religions that do not breath goodness into their followers, do not promote virtue or serve the good of society.
To McCullough and associates:
. . . religion can motivate people to do just about anything . . . . Among the study's more practical implications is that religious people may have at their disposal a set of unique psychological resources for adhering . . . [to resolutions that can bring about great inner desires for goodwill, productivity and effectiveness]. (Ibid.)
There is a huge difference between the modern concept of man and the religious principle that states that there is a spiritual dimension that is just as important and powerful as any of the others. To deny it any food creates an emptiness or void that nothing else can fill. And if it is feed with good nourishment it creates well-balanced, responsible men and women --- the best on earth.
Richard H. Jones in his book Mysticism and Morality, A New Look At Old Questions wrote:
Religious worldviews . . . can provide a framework in which morality makes sense and is the highest social vision. This makes the context of religious . . . guides different from that of nonreligious ones. . . . In sum, a religion can provide reasons and motives for being moral, even if morality is logically autonomous [uncontrolled and uncoerced by outside forces]. (p. 60)
Religion is so important, impactful and far-reaching in its influence that religion (good religion) and morality are the twin pillars of a free society. Anything that weakens these pillars threaten the liberty, prosperity and well-being of the people. (Ibid.)
The point is, spirituality and virtue are the backbone and life blood of all great nations. This is what holds everything together. If they are rejected, the consequences are very heavy to bear. A good case in point is the old Soviet Russia, the once U.S.S.R. Their ethics of atheism was torn apart by crime, greed and every vice known in the book. Russia today still suffers the aftermath of such a faulty foundation for peace and prosperity. No nation can long survive that tries to build their future on the ethics of the sewer, the ethics of "anything goes" or situational morality. Hitler knowing the power of religion, declared, "It is always more difficult to fight against faith than knowledge." (www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/adolf_hitler.html)
Religion is an extremely powerful force and it must promote love, not hate, models, not judges, examples, not accusers, fault finders or revenge seekers. The morality of being a light, a real example of the best in man and showing the way is what is needed to make a country a great and a wonderful place in which to live. These lofty principles and ideals need the support of a heartfelt belief in God. No other basis for morality can long endure without this. Which is why the astute Alexis de Tocqueville, who sought to discover the real "genius" of American, the greatest and most impressive nation on earth in his day and time, was most impressed above all other things that "the churches of America" were "aflame with righteousness," teaching goodwill. In other words, they overflowed with devotion to God and virtue --- love for what is wholesome, beautiful and meaningful in life --- things which touch the deep inner longings of the heart. No wonder things went well in this land at that time. "Virtue is health [well-being and prosperity], vice is sickness [waste and ruin]." (Petrarch, 2009: www.famousquotesandauthors.com/authors
/petrarch_quotes.html) De Tocqueville concluded that, "The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law and the surest pledge of freedom." (Democracy in America, Reeves, Trans. vol.1, pp 40-41) Good religion creates, maintains and perpetuates these shining and glorious qualities that can change a man within to the very depth of his soul.
The man who feeds and nourishes his spiritual nature, his inner connection with the divine will find a more abundant life inside himself, his life will be sweetened and enriched, his discernment sharpened, his feelings tender and compassionate, yet his spirit strong and valiant. Spirituality is the highest acquisition of the soul --- the divine in man. It is the supreme crowning gift that makes him king of all created things. It energizes all the beautiful concepts and ideals and endearing deeds and makes them real and attractive, such that, we love the truth so much that we live it and thrive on it and grow to our full divine potential greatest force in the development and growth of man has always been spiritual. We need this quality in our lives to maintain and make the hard effort to incorporate the higher satisfactions and contentments of virtue and goodwill.
The delicious fruits or results of morality are self-respect, respect for others, a life well lived, willing contributions to the good of man, law abiding, peaceful and valiant citizens as well as inner wealth, an inner abundance, much deeper enjoyments and delights in life. In others words, live to learn, learn to love and you love to live. "God is love," so if you learn to love effectively, you are learning to be more like him. On the other hand, learn to hate and you'll be bitter and empty and life will lose meaning.
Spirituality is an inner quality of devotion wherein we learn to really enjoy all things and "rejoice in all things," trust in Providence, sincerely believe that all things both good and bad will, if taken well, will work for your best good. The natural outcome of this will be more enjoyable and deeply happy in good times and bad. In other words, learn to deeply enjoy and your whole life will be enjoyable. Learn to be interested in a lot of things and your whole life will be interesting. Like lots of things and you'll really like your life. With God, people can experience these things on a daily basis and they can become second nature to them or become a part of their fiber and being. This is where we need God to win the battles and eventually win the war by internalizing the greater good.
What flows out of this kind of learned inner delight and trust in the Divine is good behavior, forgiveness, genuine compassion and other equally important virtues that creates people who gladly contribute to society. The ancient Dutch had a saying, "Happy people are never wicked." They are too full of good to be anything but what they really are inside. Whatever is inside us will manifest itself. We will radiate it. People will sense it in our presense. To cultivate and develop this spiritual gift and willing and loving obedience to amoral life creates inner nobility --- the greatest kind of nobility that exists on the face of the earth, because it shines, shows or eminates from the person. No title or lineal right to be called noble can match or take a candle to genuine virtue in a life --- the glorious inner quality and beauty of a truly noble man or woman is for the good of mankind. An old Chinese proverb states:
If there is light in the soul,
there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
Someday people will learn the hard lesson that material things and worldly ambitions merely distract us, but they do not bring us lasting satisfaction. And they are of little value in making people wholeheartedly honest, brave, tenderhearted, caring and good inside themselves. Then man will discover the spirit or higher good in himself and in God. "It is the heart [the deepest part of ourselves], not the strongbox, that should be filled with beauty, riches and treasures." (reference unknown) It is that simple and it is as simple as that. Patric Henry said, "The great pillars of all government . . . [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible." (http://startthinkingright.wordpress.com/2008/12/05
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