In one of my classes right now, we’re studying the start of America by reading some of her foundational documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Articles of Confederation.
A big question that comes up while studying this time period is: What made America different? Was it just a few angry guys who didn’t feel like paying taxes anymore? No. There was a reason they rebelled.
“America is the only nation in the world founded on a creed.”
-G. K. Chesterton
My history text book expands on Chesterton’s quote, saying, “Other nations find their identity and cohesion in ethnicity, or geography, or partisan ideology or cultural tradition. But America was founded on certain ideas -ideas about freedom, about human dignity and about social responsibility.”
This got me thinking.
Isn’t this what sets humans apart? We are the only creatures to which God gave the ability to make creeds, to believe, to influence future generations.
Deer form herds with other deer. The only tie that binds them together is their species. Birds fly with the birds around them. The only tie binding them together is their location.
Humans can form stronger ties. We are commanded to form stronger ties.
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
-The Declaration of Independence
We can form bonds based on beliefs, truths, and aims. We are not like the animals who recognize only species and location. We are called to climb higher, search for truth, and form unbreakable bonds with those we meet along the way. The bonds that humans can form are outside of time. When an animal dies, the rest of its kind forget it almost instantly. When a person dies, those that he shared a bond with remember him. They keep influencing, keep climbing higher, and thus his belief lives on.
If we spend our lives blindly following those who are merely next to us or who look like us, we will amount to no more than the deer who form herds.
“Rather, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, freemen must think on these things.”