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A Civilized Nation

Updated: May 12, 2020

“… for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.” Pulitzer Prize novelist Pearl Buck

There seems to be some heated discussions about “staying in” or “getting out.”

My response:

Caring about the way we treat each other is one of the chief attributes that makes us civilized. When someone is accused of murder, we look at this as one of the worst crimes that one human can perpetrate on another. We feel this way because being civilized is about how we respect the rights of others. Taking someone’s life is the ultimate crime against being civilized.

On the other side of the coin; being civilized is about caring for your fellow man, reaching down to those who need to be lifted up, healing those who are sick, protecting those who are weak and comforting those who are afraid. Being civil endues us with the power to make our world better, no just for one, but for the totality of man, for all.

In the creed of our nation, we agree that all have rights; all deserve to be heard, all have the right to express, and all have the right to pursue. This is what we call “freedom.” We, particularly as Americans, subscribe this freedom to be one of the most precious commodities about our nation. We fight for freedom. We fight against tyranny. We stand against anyone who would rob us of the opportunity of choice.

The power that freedom does not grant us, is the right to trample on another’s rights. Our belief as a nation, as a people, is that all men are equal and their rights are equal. One man cannot push aside the rights of another man in order to pursue his own happiness. This is an uncivilized act. It is a form of tyranny.

The fact that I have the right to leave my house and carry on with life as I see fit is a freedom until it treads on the rights of someone else. Once my freedom endangers the freedoms of someone else, I am participating in the very thing we have fought against since we became a country, i.e., tyranny.

Watch people now. Watch how they act around others. Watch to see if they care about how far they are from others. Watch and see if they try to protect others. Watch to see if their freedom steps on those in fear. Watch to see if they take care to protect the elderly and the weak, or if their new freedom is taken as a right to pursue their own happiness at the expense of others. Those who fail to honor the freedoms of others become tyrants and really don’t value freedom for what it truly is.

When the time comes that we are granted the freedom to go out into our world again, who will we be? Will we spit in the face of discretion and being civil or will we honor those around us who are afraid; afraid of sickness, afraid of pain, afraid of dying and dying alone?

If we are to be a civil nation we will take into account all those around us that are weaker, all who are afraid. We will give them patience and understanding. We will keep all of our rules, all the given standards, because they under-gird everyone’s freedom.

We can’t let our new freedom put out the eyes of our hearts and become blind to how our actions affect others. We don’t want to become tyrants, not so different from those that have trampled on the rights of people down through history. When we don’t respect others we banish the very thing we think we have, freedom.

You and I have the freedom to stay in our homes or (when instructed by our leaders) the freedom to get out and carry on life in a way that is as normal as possible. Either way… respect freedom. Respect your fellow man in a way that says, “I will do things that respect your rights and do not cause you fear, or pain, or worry or cause you distress.”

Take the precautions we are given and adhere to them for the greater good of all. You don’t have freedom to do as you please, but your freedom releases you to make decisions that make your world better for all, including yourself.

As children, most of us started out school days with a pledge. It helped us remember what we believed in as a nation. Each time, we ended our pledge with the words “with liberty and justice for all.” Our pledge reinforced that idea that everyone, no matter race, religion, ethnicity, political stance… etc., had the right to liberty. This is what makes us a civilized people.

My hope is that this pandemic has reinforced the idea that we have a responsibility to everyone around us. That when we care for each other and respect each man’s freedom, we can conquer any adversity that comes against us and win the war against a tyranny that would make us an uncivilized nation.

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