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Freedom and Virtue are Inextricably Entwined
Today in America, about 75% of adults identify themselves as Christian. In comparison, the next largest religions in America are Islam and Judaism. Combined they represent only about one to two percent of the United States population. ReligiousTolerance.org
That says that nearly 225,000,000 Americans believe they are Believers in the One True God. And, after all, virtue does not require belief in God (or does it?) Still, immorality floods our streets, our homes, our schools, and our churches, cathedrals and synagogues. That is a problem! From suicide to abortion, from euthanasia to childhood abuse, what happened to all the “good” neighbors? How can we expect our children to learn virtue, if we, as adults, are not moral (including humility!)?
This graph was posted originally March 9, 2004 HERE. I’m sure the results would be even more exaggerated now. All one need do is watch 5 minutes of local news or pick up the front page of any newspaper to see that self-control is out the window, and self-indulgence is the rage! (pun intended!) Immorality is easy! Virtue is work!
Think about it! They go together like bees and honey! How can one exist without the other? It can’t! Freedom requires that each individual “respect” the rights of his neighbor. Virtue thrives amid personal freedom where it can be freely expressed. Without one or the other, they BOTH wane. This is the fundamental reason America is where she is today! We live under “relative” or “situational” ethics/morals/virtue! We look at how our neighbors live and use that as a reference point. Or we use our boss, or some political or entertainment or athletic figure as a sort of guideline.
Morality … Virtue cannot be relative (or situaltional.) It cannot depend on each situation. Murder is either right or wrong. Drug dependence is either right or wrong. Rape is either right or wrong. Gossip is … yea, that is harder. Or is it? Anger … Right of wrong? Beating up another person … right or wrong? Even if they cut you off in traffic?Drinking and driving … right or wrong? Lying … ooooh another hard one. Is lying right or wrong?
You see … We KNOW what is right and what is wrong. It’s almost instinctive. That is not to say we don’t ever tell lies or allow others to make us angry, but we know it is not right … it is not a good thing! We know it is not virtuous to engage in over-indulgence of any kind. What do we do about it? Do we push it aside and say (like we did when we were 10) “Everyone else is doing it!” or “Johney’s mom let’s him do it!” Yea, I know!
So the next time someone cuts in front of you in traffic, smile and say, “Thanks! I needed that reminder! I’m not perfect either!”
The grace we show will come back to us when we need it most!