Sunday, July 8, 2018

Neal A. Maxwell on Patriotism

When I was a young girl, I grew up about a block away from this amazing man. And I can't begin to describe the amount of influence this genuine disciple had on my growing intellect, as well as my young heart and fledgling faith. It was an extraordinary opportunity to experience the way he lived in the day-to-day, not just at the pulpit. He walked the walked, served with deep, deliberate compassion, and inspired as much through his simplest actions as he did through his eloquent sermons.

For example, I heard how gently and affably he responded when a zealous troop of scouts found his suits freshly delivered from the dry cleaners on his front porch, and assumed they were placed there for the neighborhood Deseret Industries Drive (basically the Utah version of Goodwill) and hauled them away! (Yes, he eventually got them back.)  I saw him jog over with a plate of brownies on a Saturday morning for a missionary farewell, just like any other good neighbor might have done. I watched as he and his wife, Colleen, reached out to a family on the fringes of the ward and invite them over to dinner to form a friendship. I received kindly personal letters from him on my mission, simply signed, "Neal." I often observed tears streaming down his cheeks as he sang the sacrament hymns about our wounded Savior. All had an enormous impact on me. I think I can honestly say that I see the image of Christ in his loving face, more than in the countenance of anyone I've ever met.

A couple of times this week (leading up to Independence Day), I took the opportunity to relisten to "Our Need for True Patriotism," a devotional he gave on July 4, 1993 — a full twenty-five years ago — and was amazed by how prescient it was and relevant it still is today.

Here are a few choice nuggets I transcribed:

 Today, we cannot seem to see beyond the political moment, let alone “beyond the years.” By contrast, James Wilson, one of our founding fathers, urged the delegates to the constitutional convention of 1787 to “look beyond their own time and constituencies to the needs of generations yet unborn.” They did it! and all succeeding generations were blessed. Patriotism which sees beyond the years leaves legacies to rising generations.... It leaves a clean turf, not the debris of a selfish society.

More than we realize, our whole society really rests on the capacity of its citizens to give what is called “obedience to the unenforceable.” We do this by complying willingly with the law, and behaving voluntarily according to time-tested standards… In contrast, widespread and sustained lack of self-control will bring either severe external controls, or anarchy.

The quality of self-control is best grown in healthy family gardens…Healthy families are the first places we learn to balance rights and responsibilities, and to take turns.

Instead of increasing brotherhood, there is increasing separatism in America. There is even rising racism. There is also a decrease in the respect among our citizens for each other.

George Washington’s biographer wrote: “In all history few men who possessed unassailable power have used that power so gently and self-effacingly for what their best instincts told them was the welfare of their neighbors and all mankind.”As one thinks about Washington and power, it reminds us that power is most safe with those…who are not in love with power.

Perhaps you can see why he remains one of my spiritual and intellectual heroes!
There is no transcription available, but you can listen to the devotional in its entirety here:
I think you too will see how timely his counsel is for today's political arena and society at large.

No comments: