We Desperately Need to Make AMERICANS Great Again
A plea for the return of character
In 1894, a Polish boy was born to an average Polish family. As a young man, he dedicated himself to wisdom, purity and above all to God. He became a priest in 1910 and for thirty years thrived in his role. He founded a magazine, ran a printing press, hosted a radio show, etc… During his down time, he would go on missions to Asia. Anyone would have looked at his life and deemed it successful. Then, in 1941, his monastery was shut down by the Nazi’s. He was taken prisoner and eventually transferred to Auschwitz. This man, despite the destruction of his success and the devastation of his lifestyle continued to be a priest. He suffered torture, being beaten within inches of his life but did not compromise anything he believed. Finally, in the greatest act of his life, voluntarily took the place of another man who was chosen to be killed. He died a martyr’s death so that the prisoner might one day see his wife and children again. Twenty — eight years later, he was canonized.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s story would be remarkable even if it were only made up of the last part. To give your life for the sake of the other is the greatest act of love that can be committed. There is more to the story, however, a challenge for us in his constant disposition.
St. Maximilian Kolbe had it made. He was living exactly the life he wanted as a Franciscan and he had seen great success. His resume was full and yet in an instant it was all taken away through no fault of his own. This man who had built an incredible influence for good ended his life emaciated, impoverished, weak, and severely oppressed yet somehow he remained magnanimous! With no lack of difficulty, this man did not give up an ounce of virtue. He never gave into despair. There were SO many people to blame and he could have claimed complete righteousness in doing so but he didn’t.
Because purpose. Because virtue. Because outside circumstance DO NOT HAVE TO DIRECT OUR BEHAVIOR!
As I watch the nation erupt after the results of the election, I cannot help but think of St. Maximilian Kolbe and people like him. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, wrote in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” that those who were able to survive the holocaust always had a deeper meaning and purpose to their lives, something that inspired them to elevate their virtue and character and to overcome the outside forces that actually were oppressed upon them.
My friends, we live in the free-est country in the world. I do not believe that utopia is possible but the American experiment may be the closest that we have ever come. Yes, our nation is far from perfect but it was built on the concept that man is made to achieve good and that ability lives inside of him. The higher his morality, the higher his drive, the higher his virtue, the more he can accomplish.
Today, however, it seems that the concepts of interior freedom despite outside circumstances has disappeared. When nothing is our fault, then we need not change ourselves. We have been told repeatedly that if we don’t like reality, we can make it up. Now, the outcome of the election is a reality that we can’t handle it because we have not developed strong interior foundations to be graciously when disappointed.
I have seen many Facebook posts, tweets, protest signs, tears, threats, violence (from both sides) but I have seen very little greatness. If we cannot handle deal with the outcome of the democratic process, what will we do when stuff really hits the fan. Where are the Maximilian Kolbes? Where are the men and women whose character only gets stronger no matter what? When good and bad became fashionable, virtue and character became irrelevant and the goodness eroded. For years we have had nothing but “my way” to hold on to and so we can only freak out when we don’t get our way. It does not look good on us. WE are responsible for building or destroying a unified, one nation under God.
It is time for us to go back to the drawing board and answer some fundamental questions for those of us who may have missed it. We have been given a unique opportunity to re-educate our culture on meaning and purpose. We, especially as Christians, have to step into the mess and help the healing begin. We can reintroduce the concepts of virtue and character. We can once again elevate the common good but we have to take advantage of what we have been given as a nation. We desperately need another “greatest generation”. Millennials, it’s not too late for that to be us if we were willing to stop yelling and take a dose of humility.
A Trump Presidency COULD be the best thing that ever happened to us if we choose to make it that way. WE can rise to greatness again. That is the only way to ensure that Americans stay great.