“What our fathers with so much difficulty attained do not basely relinquish.”---from Governor William Bradford's tombstone
This was in my daily readings of "Great Quotations" from history. It's from the tombstone of one of the early governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It's also on there in Latin, causing much rejoicing that it was translated for the quote book.
It has me wondering how easily we in America have given up the things our forefathers attained. Then, guiltily, I have to admit that I wonder what I've given up too easily that was attained with difficulty for me.
I see it often in our churches: for a number of generations, people have struggled and sacrificed to establish churches, seminaries, ministries, and missions. Yet each succeeding generation wants to trade those sacrifices for the flavor of the month in trends and ideas. Not that all the old things are good or the new things are bad.
I see it in our nation: generation upon generation has fought for our freedom and for freedom around the world. Now we want to talk rather than do, import rather than build, and bicker rather than find a solution. Not that everything from 1776 was perfect or even 1976, but we must not abandon the good.
I see it in my life: throughout the years people have helped me along, taught me, trained me, helped me to grow. Yet do I remember or care for their sacrifice? Do I remember the efforts to break the Hibbards from owing their soul to the company store in mine towns or the Roses to independence in farming? Or do I belittle the lack of education or sophistication? Not that they were perfect nor did they do all things right.
Notice something in Bradford's statement: it's not that the old should never be relinquished, rather that it should not be basely relinquished. There's a time to move forward from the past, a time to realize that the future has come and demands changes. However, it should never be done lightly or flippantly, and should not be done for low reasons.
Let us never forget what it took to get us here. Many of us are educated because of the efforts and sacrifices of others, some of them generations before. We have homes, jobs, comforts from those sacrifices. We have freedom. Let us not forget this, even as we look to keep all these in perspective.
Quote from: William J. Federer, Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced According to Their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions (St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001).