Friday, May 24, 2013

Reflections on Memorial Day

When I started Little House’s blog, fifteen months ago, my goal was to write about: hand-crafts that involve the heart; values of home; love and family.  My oldest daughter, Hannah, who is my right hand assistant and mentor on everything from graphic and color design to advertising and blog writing, carefully instructed me to avoid religion and politics, fearing, what she knows too well about me, and my potential risk for “rants”.

I cannot, however, write blogs about the sweetness of home without sharing my values that encompass religion and politics, though I will try not to rant. I have shared my idiosyncrasies, including my “General Jane bossy side” as well as my passion for crafts and have dared to share what keeps me going, despite the odds that challenge me and my family. Who can run a home without rolling up one’s sleeves, donning boxing gloves, or wrestling with the issues that seem to walk through our front doors.  Our homes may be our castles, but walls aren’t thick enough to keep out the bad from coming into where we live.

I don’t have to tell you what is out there. Just turn on your TV or radio and it is apparent. Joyful events and celebrations are turned into opportunities for terrorist attacks; a Mother’s Day Parade turned into a madman’s target practice and killing spree; our privileged institutions of learning, from elementary to college, are now sites for mayhems and massacres or the kidnapping of innocents; and scandals and corruptions are rocking the very institutions that are bedrock to our country. Listening to a statesman' commentary, that I shall leave un-named so as to not provoke any bias, dropped an unexpected pearl of truth.  Instead of attacking the other side, he simply said that what he feared most regarding recent current events was not the events themselves, but rather their cause.

Corruption and violence, he pointed out, were merely the symptoms or the manifestations of cultural and moral values gone awry.  “We have enemies within and without and we had best be clear and know who and what they are,” he said. He did not name the enemies for political correctness’ sake, though his inferences could not be missed.

As I crawled into bed that same night, I picked up Saint Francis of Assisi by G.K Chesterton.  It is a tiny but “meaty” little book, not one quickly read, and so I paused after reading: “The truth is in the riddle; that the whole world has, or is, only one good thing; and it is a bad debt”. Thinking that it must be a misprint, I read it again and again and then pondered.  What could be good about a bad debt?  And then with the help of the context of the story he was telling about St. Francis, it came to me like a bolt of lightning! Not to over-simplify the problems of the world, this seemed to be right at the heart of it all, and perhaps the very solution to the ills of our world right now!

We are all debtors in this country and in this world, even if you are one of the rare ones that has no financial debt!  We are all indebted to our parents, teachers, family, churches, friends, country and God. What is good about being in debt?  If we squarely face this truth, one cannot help but sense a spirit of humbleness and humility. None of us are self-made, no matter our accomplishments or gifts.

Our freedoms and blessings are not entitlements but privileges that cry out for a proper response and a taking up of responsibility.  They are gifts passed on to us.  They were dearly paid for by those that precede us. Memorial Day is but one of the many holidays to celebrate this very fact.  It isn’t just a day for sleeping in and staying home or going on a picnic, though it is a day for celebration and with all celebration comes remembering. All that we are and have are gifts to us whether from God, or those that have supported each of us, and with such realizations true gratitude is born.

Violence and corruption comes out of resentment and greed, attitudes of entitlement versus gratitude. Bringing it full circle, to you my readers of Little House Blog, these attitudes for good or bad are indeed, home-grown.  Well-balanced people have been taught to have a healthy perspective in their life and instead of just taking, know that they are to give back, with gratitude and love for all that has been given to them.

A personal sense of history is essential in order to develop appreciation and can be taught through stories told or read, at home, or in church, or even experienced through theater and movies. How many of us assume our privileges and freedoms without knowing where they came from and how easy it is to complain about our present issues not realizing how many generations of those before us contributed to our present life of relative ease and comfort. It is through this balanced and humble position in the world, that we can develop genuine gratitude.

Debt of any kind seems negative, but this riddle put it to me right between the eyes.  Being indebted requires a response  to pay back what is owed, if not directly, indirectly and attitudes of thanksgiving, gratitude and respect is at best a minimal response. My prayer this Memorial Day is that we may all remember our veterans, as well as the many others who have made our life what it is today!  May we all feel our indebtedness and express our appreciation  through our own generosity to give to our communities and take the time to tell the stories that keep the memories of those whose sacrifices should never be forgotten.