The courage to step forward in a time of crisis often means responding to pain and frustration with a commitment to moral responsibility. This can be especially challenging when it feels like the world is unraveling.
To persevere through disruptions and turmoil we need a vision of the future that embodies constructive purpose. Personal values and sense of integrity become vitally important.
However, thoughts and ideas are useless without action.
What is to be done?
We must never forget that there can be no freedom without responsibility. This is the backbone of a free society and an inescapable requirement of the human soul.
Civilization itself cannot exist without the committed responsibility of citizens. This is our country and our world, and the problems we face belong to us.
In my view, a commitment to the foundations of civil order is a commitment to our own personal integrity.
We would do well to consider our sense of belonging, who we are and what integrity means to us. This will strengthen self-sufficiency and sense of purpose.
Self-sufficiency and purpose give us self-confidence; both are important. Self-sufficiency concerns practical matters and will-power. But purpose has to do with ideas, and ideas can be problematic.
So, let’s think about this.
Sense of purpose is a personal matter, yet it would be useless in a vacuum. Each of us is a member of the society in which we live. And. being truly alive places us in motion.
We learn to live with life’s fluid nature and to adapt to change. If we are not engaged, thinking and responding, we are not paying attention.
Purpose implies a future. It would be easy to attach ourselves unwittingly to ideas or expectations that are based solely on the past.
There is both strength and danger here.
Most of us attach ourselves to long-held assumptions. This lends itself to stability, as long as we keep our minds open. We need consistency to follow through with plans. Otherwise nothing would get done.
But, at a time of extraordinary disruption and change, when the future is dark or hard to imagine, expectations need to be flexible and purpose must depend on a strong spirit and time-tested values.
We know what kind of world we wish to live in, at least in general terms, but expectations will have no ground to stand on during a long crisis.
In the coming years we can expect to be bombarded by sequential crises.
Safety will depend on dependable community, despite our differences. A readiness to rise above our differences is a necessity in genuine community. Survival may depend on it.
However, a vision for the future can only be built upon mutual respect and understanding, rather than on the assumptions of a crumbling past.
In the midst of chaos, “constructive action” can be understood as the means by which we unite and advance toward intended goals, not away from them.
So, let’s keep two priorities in mind: First, to identify values that are capable of guiding us through turmoil. Second, to stay alert, allowing flexibility of judgment and readiness to adjust our thinking as conditions change.
If we believe in freedom, we cannot allow presuppositions to control the future. That is not what freedom is about.
Assumptions carried with us from the past are dinosaurs that threaten our ability to build the future. Principle must be permitted to guide our way, always responding to the realities at hand.
We may dislike the conditions in which we find ourselves at any particular moment. We may determine to alter them. But, to be rigid and inflexible will court disaster.
Our independence as free people depends on engaging effectively with ever-changing circumstances.
We are challenged to keep our balance at the vortex of historic change, to uphold the spirit of liberty, and remain ever resistant to absolutism and bigotry.
Personal integrity, trustworthiness and responsibility, will keep us on track through the storm.
To survive and to serve, we must summon the courage to spread our wings and soar on the wind.
Please look for the next blog post on or about September 10.
Note to new readers: A project description, an introduction to the book, and several chapter drafts are linked at the top of this page.