Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. (Psalm 127:1, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Ignorance and misinformation can handicap. Leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason— or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions.
There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternative, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable. But in today’s world, freedom can be lost without a shot being fired, by ballots as well as bullets.
The success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles — on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny.
Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected.
We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.” (Excerpts from President John F. Kennedy’s remarks scheduled for the afternoon of November 22, 1963).
Not much has changed Mr. President. Now, even more so than in 1963, “ignorance and misinformation” have replaced “learning and reason.” “Rhetoric” has replaced “reality.” The inevitable “dissident voices heard in the land” are louder than perhaps ever before. “Expressing opposition without alternative, finding fault but never favor…and seeking influence without responsibility.”
The respect for our nation’s mission as it struggles to “practice what it preaches” in terms of the “virtues of freedom” and “evils of tyranny,” and about “equal rights and social justice,” has been tarnished by our own undoing “without a shot [from our enemies] being fired.”
Are we no longer “worthy of our power and responsibility,” are we no longer capable of exercising our “strength with wisdom and restraint?” In short, have the “watchmen on the walls of freedom” lost sight of the “righteousness of [the] cause,” and the failed in their “destiny” by their own poor “choices?”
Bullets not ballots prevented the speech from being delivered that day. Some claim that America lost its innocence that day. Maybe it never had any innocence to lose. But the President had it right when he wrote “except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen watcheth but in vain.”
My Advice – For Memorial day 2021. “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (President Abraham Lincoln). We, as a nation, may not have a new birth of freedom, no matter how highly we resolve. It may be too late. But we as individuals can have a new birth in Christ. Resolve for yourself today, that He “shall not have died in vain.”