In arguably, one of the most influential speeches of the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. said the following, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“The content of their character….” Amen.
We are watching our culture self-destruct. In large part because of the decline in American character which has had, and continues to have, multiple effects and consequences. The loss of role models that love truth, beauty and goodness, the loss of heroes replaced by the “anti-heroes,” the loss of self-government evidenced by the lack of self control on the part both individuals and an out-of-control civil government, which are the fruit of that rotting carcass, the loss of godly character.
Our children desperately need to read, see, hear and rediscover the multitudinous examples of men and women that God in His providence, and throughout history, has set before us giving us a “cloud of witnesses” who bear witness to the benefits of raising children with good and godly character.
Dr. King was right, it is the “content of (our) character” that matters most. It is not our prosperity or paucity, not our technology or tradition, and not the pursuit of happiness that matters most. It is the generational sowing of the habits of mind and life that produce harvest of good and godly character that is central for us.
Let me ask you, who do think uttered the following statements and what do you think of a person who actually lived by these statements?
- “Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in it’s true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret.”
- There is true glory and true honor; the glory of duty done – the honor of the integrity principle.”
- “Our greatest influence will be exercised in the home. A man is not qualified to lead others if he fails to lead his own house.”
- “Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to do one’s duty in the face of fear.”
- “A man unwilling to deny himself is a slave to the world and not a leader of it.”
It takes time and determination to replace self-centered, self-obsession with unselfish service to others. It takes time and determination to replace the existing sense of (covetous) entitlement, all children have, with a sense of obligation to “do your duty” toward God and our fellow humans. It takes time and determination to replace a “give-me-what-I-want-at-all-costs” mindset with minds and lives of sacrifice and the maturity of exhibiting grace in a time of loss. It takes time and determination to replace the me-centered, individualistic atomism so evident in our children and our culture, by restoring a sense of obligation and duty toward others, especially those in need. It takes time and determination to replace the blame-shifting, excuse-making whininess of immaturity, with mature, sober, responsible men and women who can deal with success and failure. These are the kind of things that will hold a people together and give them a future. These are the means by which a culture and society propagates itself with future hope, peace and prosperity.
By the way, the above quotes are all from the same man but whose sentiments are certainly shared by and attested to by many, many men and women of character throughout the centuries. His name: Robert Edward Lee.
Not familiar with him? You should be and so should your children. You can get more information about him and other good and godly role models at http://withleeinvirginia.com.