Chaplain’s Corner, Summer 2004

{originally to be published in the Buffalo Guards Newsletter, September 2004}

In a time when fellow countrymen fought each other on American soil over irreconcilable issues, it was seldom the place of a Chaplain to preach the war, either on the side of South or North, Federal or States’ rights, slavery or abolition. But the war was not sacrosanct to the realm of politics alone, as it touched the hearts of men on the battlefield, yearning both during and after the conflict for some meaning – some greater lesson to be learned. In other words, the Chaplain, a supposed impartial representative of God Himself, is expected to have something to say.

As presidential elections are around the corner, there is more debate than ever about the justifications of the War of Iraqi Liberation and the schedule upon which to withdraw forces to “Bring our boys home.” Domestically, there is debate on the Federal government’s control over States’ marriage rights of couples considered non-traditional, a significant minority in some parts of the country.

The geography and watershed issues have changed drastically over the last century-and-a-half, but for those of us who truly study our history, we realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We still commiserate over the plight of those who risk their lives on our behalf. We still each want to have our way, or way of life, either through local consensus without interference of government, or by imposing majority values upon the rest under the weight of law.

But one thing has not changed. We live in a society that – despite any failings – still gives us each the opportunity to express our view through voice and vote. We even have the right to remain silent and abstain from the process of Democracy, or even oppose it altogether, or (in a grand contradiction) publicly desecrate the very Flag that represents such liberty in law.

The sad truth, however, is that few of us take seriously such a responsibility as crafted by God and ensured onto us by our forefathers in the Declaration of Independence. That is perhaps sadder than blatant opposition to the democratic process – it is living a lie. We borrow wholesale the opinions of the press, or our neighbors who have done so themselves, and fall prey to the ever-growing political practice of repeating insinuations until they become the popular truth. Jefferson was one of many who would surely agree that Democracy is only as good as the education of the people, demanding an informed vote from each and every individual.

So what is the penance for such ignorance? Argument. Debate. Reading. Discerning facts from propaganda. And remembering. Study the past to understand the triumphs and defeats of our ancestors, but do not keep it on a bookshelf. Remember the past to not repeat its mistakes. May the Lord who has guided us thus far, thy gold refine ‘till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.

Ken posted at 2004-8-25 Category: Uncategorized
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