WHEN I WAS a child, I would get up in the morning with the prospect of a new day in front of me. It seemed like a day lasted forever.
As I got older, the day filled up with tasks and duties. It didn’t last as long as when I was a child. By the time I was in high school, I would go to bed and think, “Where has the day gone?”
When I was in my 20s, my time was consumed by work, church, a wife and then a new son. Every day was a whirlwind. Every Sunday morning I would get ready for church and think, “Where has the week gone?”
In my 30s, I noticed that every month as I sat down to pay bills, I would ask, “Where has the month gone?” Now, when our family gathers at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas, I think, “Where has the year gone?”
As I mourn the recent loss of two friends, I realize that it won’t be long before I look back at my life and wonder where the decades have gone. I have to admit that I have not used my time as I should. I let the urgent things take my time, when I should have attended to the important things.
I suppose that is one of the problems with being human — by the time you figure something out, it’s often too late to put that knowledge to use.
If the Lord blesses, I have half a lifetime yet to live. Maybe I can use it more wisely and thoughtfully than I have used the first 43 years.
WHAT IS LIBERTY? I can say this for certain, it has nothing to do with the freedom to go where we want or do as we wish. Liberty is one of the noblest concepts mankind can embrace.
True liberty is a heavy burden to bear. Liberty means being free to care for one’s self and family, therefore liberty demands that one actually do so. Those who leave the support and care of themselves and their families to others not only fail to exercise their own liberty, they rob the rest of us of our liberty.
Liberty demands virtue. Walt Whitman said, "The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every constraint. The wise see in it, on the contrary, the potent Law of Laws." The Bible teaches that the true nature of liberty lies in the freedom to do good.
Epoxy is a compound. In order for epoxy to hold, you must mix the resin with the hardener. Each ingredient is worthless without the other. Liberty is like epoxy. It is
made up of equal parts of freedom and responsibility.
Freedom without responsibility is anarchy, responsibility without freedom is slavery.
Edmund Burke said, "Men are qualified for liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites." If Burke was correct, and I believe that he was, America will not enjoy her liberty much longer.
THE CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES each of us the right to pursue happiness. Nowhere does it promise that we will find it.
But we have decided that we are entitled to it. If we cannot find it of our own accord, we can borrow enough to buy it. If we can’t borrow to buy it, we’ll take it from someone else.
Happiness comes and goes, and I suppose a few are blessed to enjoy it much of their lives. But contentment is not beyond the reach of any of us.
We all have within us the power to find contentment at any time. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
We cannot always choose our circumstances. But we can choose how we respond to those circumstances. Will we respond with grace and dignity, or with bitterness?
Many in society today, including a number of learned people, maintain that crime is a result of the poverty in which some people live. And yet we have no more poor as a percentage of the population than at other times in the past.
And many of the poor we have today live better than the wealthy in other parts of the world. Poverty was far more widespread during the depression than today, yet people in that day conducted themselves with dignity and pride.
No, the problem isn’t poverty. The wealthy commit crimes too. It’s greed, selfishness and an emptiness that people try to fill by “getting.”
But all of the getting in the world will not bring happiness.
As the proverb says, “With all your getting, get understanding.”Mike North is a professional land surveyor, amateur historian and former member of the Walker County school board. For past columns and contact information, visit In My Humble Opinion.