Fort Knox, Bucksport, Maine (with a replica of the Santa Maria in the foreground)
Fort Knox, the first granite fort in Maine, was constructed in 1844 and was strategically positioned along the Penobscot narrows across from Bucksport village. Built to guard the Penobscot River from unwanted intruders and to protect access to the ship building trade in Bangor, it stands as a reminder that our nation and its communities need protection from those who would push their will upon others.
So, who keeps careful vigilance over our nation today? Who defends our freedoms- our rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as stated in the Declaration of Independence? Who is responsible for and will pay the price to keep our national priorities? Who or what guides us? Is it our elected authorities? Our judicial system? Our warriors?
Our Constitution says that “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …”
“We the people” hold the power and responsibility for assuring ongoing common good for our nation. That tall order requires us to guard our character as well as our “rights”—to be watchful and protective against the intruders of apathy, selfishness, greed, lust for power, ingratitude, extremism, and divisions. That level of morality demands adherence to a standard greater than a document, greater than a guiding Constitution.
King Solomon implored his readers to keep “ your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life… Let (God’s words) penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them… look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” (Proverbs 4:18-27 (NLT2)
The idea that God’s wisdom is protective and beneficial does not seem to be in the collective, cultural thinking of this day and conjures up Pete Segar’s haunting question, “when will we ever learn?” (Where have all the flowers gone… Pete Segar’s 1950’s song)
Whether Christian or not, there has never been a better moral guideline for an individual or nation than Jesus’ summation of the Moral Law. It will never be equaled by any other statute or tenet or creed: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:35-40) Possessing that mentality would save us from the increasing idolatry of selfish “rights”, philosophic relativism, and injustices and return us to civility in speech and behavior.
Most certainly, caring for the our nation’s “soul” will require understanding of an accurate and truth filled historical context, continuity of good values, the desire to be and to do better, and diligent adherence to what is good for all. Scripture gives us the antidote to recalcitrant ways and angry cries and divisive demands for “rights.” It promises that a people who are humble before God and who will seek His face and ways will have a healed land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 )
If we as individuals and as a nation honor God and His time tested and very sensible moral guidelines of self control and love, we will “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. …looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others…( Philippians 2:1-11)
Our peace and stability will be protected when we discover the meaning of the humility that Christ taught and modeled… a love for God and a selfless, sacrificial, considerate, caring attitude toward all.