Monday, March 22, 2010

An Address for Today

My maternal great-grandfather, Paul Marvin Brown, Jr. was truly amazing.  To read his autobiography and the list of things he accomplished in his life all with an attitude of humble servant-hood is inspiring.  I barely remember him.  I was 5 when he passed away, though I do remember one birthday present he gave me, maybe my third.  It was a brown paper bag with several peppermints and a red plastic football.  Nothing out of the ordinary, but he bought it himself, not my great-grandmother.

He had a way with words--an excellent speaker, writer and teacher.  I so wish I could have been old enough to remember and understand some of his addresses.  This past weekend I ran across two scripts of two related addresses one at the opening Convocation at Centenary College in 1962 and the other delivered to the Southwestern Associates and the Board of Trustees of Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX.  What was so striking was how appropo they are for today.  Literally--TODAY and these were written almost 50 years ago. 

Let me share...

This is a high hour in history.  It is a'tingle with urgency.  It must not be wasted.  Some of us have had our day.  For most of you, the future is calling and it is to you that I want to address myself.

Today this nation is the most influencial power in the world.  How long it will hold that place, only time will tell.  Our destiny was projected by a political system set up 175 years ago as a representative form of government.  Under this system have been developed the most virile economy and the highest standard of living ever yet attained on such a broad scale.

This place in the sun carries with it definite responsibilites which we cannot escape.  We are not the the first power to hold such a place.  Many other peoples have held it before and, once having lost it never regained it.... Only by maintaining a great strength can we continue to exert a great influence.... Much then depends on the strength of Amercia.  It must follow that America's strength depends on the strength of the individual citizen of America.   

...I am reminded of the words of Benjamin Franklin as he came out of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787: "You have a Rebublic if you can keep it."  I wonder whether we are not losing it.

Seventy years later, in 1857, Thomas Macaulay, the great English historian, said: "The day will come when in the State of New York, a multitude of people, non of whom had more than half a breakfast or expects to have more than half a dinner, will choose a Legislature. Is it possible to doubt what sort of a Legislature will be chosen? ..."

Both great parties, at least great in size, have for the past generation fed the growing hunger of a welfare state and as Macaulay foretold, a great many seeking political office do so on promise of bountiees from the public purse which though enormous, is not inexhaustible. 

You should never forget that out of your pocket will come the pay for welfare, for social security, and the burden of public debt which my generation has allowed to be saddled on you. 

The office seeker who asks for your vote by the promise of bread [or health care] and circuses both insults your intelligence and fans the flames of national destruction.  If you want proof of that, you have but to read the history of the decline of the Roman Empire.

We need to remind ourselves that those men who signed our Declaration of Independence pledged for its preservation their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.  And, let us remember too that almost without exception, they were called on to redeem that pledge in full.  Losing lives and fortunes, they maintained their sacred honor.  To them, liberty was sweet, to them honor was sacred, and no price was too great to pay for our freedom....

The transition from a rebuplic to a democracy, if that is whither we are heading, presents a contrdiction in terms.  It seems that the closer we approach this so-called democracy, the more powerful grows the central government at Washington and the more definite the trend toward socialism. 

So, in drifting away from the original concept of the republic, we really find our selves on uncharted seas not knowing whither we are going.  We seem to be moving to an all-powerful central government, losing our our individual rights and freedoms to a bureaucracy which feeds on its own uncontrolled hugeness.  Alexis Carrel wrote: "The democracy ideology itself, unless reconstructed upon a scientific basis, has no more chance of surviving that the Fascist or Marxist ideologies." 

You see, herein lies the danger in the situation: the problem is so difficult even to define that one is almost completely frustrated and the temptation come to give up and let apathy take over.  This you cannot afford to do. 

I could go on, but let's suffice it to say, Paul was a wise man.  And lest you think he was a greedy, right wing extremist, I am here and there are many other to vouch that he was just the opposite.  He was a very generous man and gave in so many ways other than just monetarily.  It comes down to the American dream of working for your own way and earning what you have, then giving generously to those in need. 

My very humble and generous great-grandfather is my role model and I only hope that I can give back as much as he did one day, not the government taking it from me. 


Anonymous said...

That is so amazing that his prediction of our overgrown government is beginning to realize itself. If only we could take care of others, like he did, without the influence of Washington. If this were to occur, we might have a chance to save ourselves. Stephen

Jonny said...

Huh, looks like he and I might have had a thing or two to talk about had we overlapped. - Jonny

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. I wish many could read it. Very inspiring! Jack's Aunt

Motherhood for Dummies said...

what an amazing story to read and a great piece of geneology