“I tremble for my country”

This July 4th I find myself ensconced in my small cabin on the North Carolina side of Snake Mountain.. I’ve been here for over a week, soaking up the quiet and the solitude, but more importantly, continuing work on one of my books. Thankfully, I have made even more progress on it than I had hoped.

With all the solitude has come the opportunity to spend more time in meditation and reflection than is my usual practice. This also has been a treat for me. Slowing down is definitely good for the soul.

As I have thought this past week about the 4th of July, I have been saddened that the majority of us don’t treasure it as deeply as I feel we should. Like some many other special days “the 4th” has become just one more opportunity for a long weekend and a good party.

There have been a number of occasions in my life where I have been outside the good ol’ US on the 4th of July. I remember them all. In 1969 I was in Viet Nam, in 1992 I was building an agricultural school in Giika. Kenya, in 2000 I was in Nargono-Karbahk, a newly-founded state between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (And when I say newly-founded, shell casings still littered the streets in Stepanakert, with destroyed and bullet pocked buildings in almost every block)

In all of those instances I still remember what most impressed me was the vast gulf between the freedoms and liberties I never gave a second thought about when at home, and the lack of them wherever I found myself at that moment. I realized just how thankful we should be for what our forbearers won for us.

Pondering all of that, these words of Thomas Jefferson came to mind. They are taken from his Notes on Virginia, written in 1784.

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but by His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; and that His justice cannot sleep forever.