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Monday, July 1, 2019

The Land of Opportunities with Pastor Carlos

The Land of Opportunities

As you read these lines, Independence Day has passed, but as I write them, it is 2 days away. In my family we are all naturalized citizens, but my father is the most patriotic of us all. He adores this beautiful country, which he calls “The Land of Opportunities.” So each 4th of July I think of him. He loves to proudly put the American flag outside his home, and enjoy a BBQ.

I also remember a brooding sentiment that at times he has about America. He fears that unless the principles of liberty and justice are cared for in our society, that they could be lost. The admissions scandals in some
universities some months ago, are signs to my father that we better take care. His concern reminds me of the German writer Thomas Mann, who was also an immigrant, and who in more eloquent terms conveyed my father’s unease:

“No, America needs no instruction in the things that concern democracy. But instruction is one thing — and another is memory, reflection, reexamination, the recall to consciousness of a spiritual and moral possession of which it would be dangerous to feel too secure and too confident. No worthwhile possession can be neglected. Even physical things die off, disappear, are lost, if they are not cared for, if they do not feel the eye and hand of the owner and are lost to sight because their possession is taken for granted. Throughout the world it has become precarious to take democracy for granted — even in America" (The Coming Victory of Democracy).

About 60 years before Thomas Mann published these words, President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech titled “Duties of American Citizenship” in Buffalo, New York.

Roosevelt identified several dangerous elements to freedom, but I was struck by these two: the pursuit of pleasure and the pursuit of gain. I wonder what he would say about American society nowadays where a certain eagerness for novelty magnifies the pursuit of pleasure, and the pursuit of gain seems too often disconnected from the common good.

Let us pray that the pursuit of pleasure may be tempered by the pursuit of Truth, and the pursuit of gain may exist always in the context of moral integrity.

God bless, Fr. Carlos, OSA

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