By: Gabriela Yareliz
I keep thinking about how much values matter. When children are tiny, parents do their best to try to instill manners and certain values in their children. Every family reflects a values system, whether it realizes it or not. Some are unbiblical values that are learned, such as: “Lying and cheating aren’t a bad thing; you do what is best for you.” Some reflect more selfless values. I think the most important values that can be instilled in a generation have to do with how it relates to God, which in turn affects how we treat one another.
Teaching a child about the love of God and the inherent value each person is born with because he/she is created by a loving Creator truly changes things.
I have been thinking a lot about impact and time. Values impact far past the point at which we are gone.
Here is an example that has come to mind lately, given our current political climate in the U.S.: The United States was formed by a ragtag bunch that believed in freedom from tyranny (to the point of risking their lives), inalienable rights, and the fact that all men are created equal. They didn’t believe in self-victimization, in pointing fingers or defeat, but in man’s ability to shape his own destiny. These men were flawed, and it’s no secret many failed to live up to some of their held values, but they did their best within the ethics of that past era. Their flaws don’t make them evil, just as the flaws of the people we see in Scripture didn’t make them evil as they kept learning along their journey with God.
These founding fathers were courageous enough (and smart enough) to devise systems, draft founding documents and create rules to safeguard what they valued and what they wanted this country to stand for, regardless of their personal imperfections.
These days, it’s the values of these men that are safeguarding our liberties as our politics seek to control that which it cannot. If we relied on the values (or lack thereof) of our present day, we’d be in so much trouble, to put it lightly. Look around you. We have a society that wants to control all and remove people from the consequences of their own actions. We have a desire, these days, for crummy policies that have been proven to fail in other countries. (Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result). We have a desire to appear virtuous without the character to back up the appearance.
We are hanging by a thread.
I am grateful every day for the fact that the values of people who lived years ago have a long-reaching and lasting impact. The values of our founding fathers are acting as a faith net that catches us as we are free falling into mandates, discrimination of the disabled, the stripping of livelihoods from those following conscience, Supreme Court justices who want to decide cases, not on the merits, but to keep status quo out of pride and to not admit we were wrong in the past to “preserve the legitimacy of the court” (you have lost it, Hon. Sotomayor).
These founding values of the past were correct. Whether the execution of them was perfect is a separate issue— that doesn’t delegitimize the values. One only has to look at the deep hypocrisy of today’s leadership to understand that… people can profess something and live very differently from the profession. It’s called the sinful human condition. The imperfect lives of the people in Scripture don’t invalidate the life-changing principles contained and memorialized there. Instead, there are lessons there for all of us on our walks and journeys. The choice remains with us, always.
The fact that these values from past generations are holding us now reminds me of how important our values are today. How we behave, the choices we make, whether we can put away our pride and choose the right thing (even if it contradicts our past), caring for and respecting others enough to give them freedom, caring for the least of these— these values will shape generations after us. This is why we are in such a precarious place. Who we are today will be felt long after we are gone. I hope we can be a generation who helps strengthen the faith net that has kept this country from reflecting the fascism that is so evident around the globe right now. I hope we can cling to what is right despite our imperfections. If we choose wrong, the repercussions will be felt, not only by us, but by those who will come after us.