Politics and the Church – Where to now? [Part 2]

We will now take a look at the core values and support values that ‘fed’ the initiation of this great nation we are fortunate to be citizens of.  Not all values are created equal.  Each of us embraces a set of core values as well as a series of support values.  Core values represent the ideas and principles that are the non-negotiable values possessing the greatest influence on our thoughts and deeds.  Support values are those that are consistent with and provide breadth and depth to our ideas.  Core values are our primary values; support values are our secondary values.  If we take a look at the core values that seem to have been most prevalent at the end of the eighteenth century the list might be this:  Freedom; Truth and Honesty; Hard work; Civic duty; Family; Humility; Faith and piety; Rule of law; Self-control; Happiness; Contentment; Moderation; Frugality; Justice; Chastity; and Simplicity.  They represent a well-balanced set of ideas.  They indicate a focus on protecting the common good, serving humanity, protecting revered social customs, upholding central spiritual truths, exhibiting restraint and self-control, facilitating stability and security, contributing one’s just share, committing to productivity and growth, and investing in people.  As in any society there were those who lived outside the bounds of these values, but these values did become the recipe for a strong and emerging nation that experienced unprecedented success.  Without these values in! place, such strength and vitality could not have occurred.

Benjamin Franklin had a list of thirteen values that were representative of the ‘foundation era’.  These values were expressed by someone who is acknowledged to be one of the least religious among the Founders.  In Franklin’s words they were : Temperance…eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation; Silence…Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself, avoid trifling conversation [do you think pornography was considered in their ‘freedom of speech’?]; Order…let all your things have their places, let each part of your business have its time; Resolution…resolve to perform what you ought, perform without fail what you resolve; Frugality…make no expense but do good to others or yourself, waste nothing; Industry…lose no time, be always employed in something useful, cut off all unnecessary actions; Sincerity…use no hurtful deceit, think innocently and justly, if you speak speak accordingly; Justice…wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty; Moderation…avoid extremes, forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve; Cleanliness…tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation; Tranquility…be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable; Chastity…rarely use venery  but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation; Humility…imitate Jesus or Socrates.  {“The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin [New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1888}

William Henry Drayton, Chief Justice of South Carolina, so stated, “…and before Almighty God, that in my opinion, the Americans can have no safety, but by divine favor, their own virtues, and their being so prudent, as not to leave it in the power of British ruler! s to injure them.”  Further, “…The Almighty created America to be independent of Great Britain : let us beware of the impiety of being backward to act as instruments in the Almighty hand, now extended to accomplish His purpose…”.  He went on to say, “…our piety and political safety are so blended, that to refuse our labor in this divine work, is to refuse to be a great, a free, a pious and a happy people.”

Other nations in the world had values but with a greater emphasis upon hedonism, selfishness, power, and ambivalence toward righteousness. America became a land where a new mind-set triumphed over the Old World’s failed body of values.  It was not perfect but the outcome was a different daily experience for those who settled in this new land.

Next week we will jump ahead 250 years to the United States we experience today.  By comparison the nation is hardly recognizable when compared to its humble beginnings.  The biggest transformation of all has been its people!

– Bob Munsey

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