Personal Sacrifice Is Nourishment for the Soul

"A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ," John Steinbeck tenderly wrote.  To look around America today is to see the painful proof of this truth.  COVID and other pathogens have nothing on the deleterious effects of hopelessness and despair.  When people give up on themselves, their towns, and their futures, they look as if they're treading water against the current, seeking any reason just to stop kicking and sink.

I don't know if there's a politician in Washington who actually knows what ails America.  If there are any, I'm not sure they even care.  Politics is a profession predicated on creating new problems, blaming them on someone else, pretending to solve them, and getting paid while they get worse.  For half a century or more, Americans have begged politicians to secure their borders, end the heartbreaking genocide wrought by drug cartels, and protect blue-collar towns from extinction.  The politicians have given them open borders, intergenerational drug addiction, cultural degradation, lost communities, and bleak prospects.  

Many people placed their faith in the false notion that electing a president because of his darker skin would somehow translate into policies that would help those with dark skin, too.  Instead, those who clamored for "hope and change" found only more violence and murder, greater dependency, fewer opportunities, and further misery.  Because politicians cultivate power by creating endless social division, they cannot ever lead desperate people toward salvation.  A peaceful, happy society is a society that can be neither exploited nor tamed.  Only by first breaking the people from their will to live can those with power profit from their submission.

While elected officials and judges have spent decades purging religious teachings, classical virtues, and civic responsibilities from schools and the public square, they have filled those empty spaces with celebrations of sin, vice, and self-indulgence.  By first creating a spiritual wasteland for America's youth and then filling that desolation with the rancid filth of a toxic junkyard, generations of Americans cannot now distinguish between what is rotten and what is priceless.  Family, faith, friendship, fellowship, and freedom have slipped away for so many, while politicians distract them with the sparkly trinkets of self-gratification, sexual confusion, grievance, animosity, and the slowly suffocating weight of welfare's chains.  Rather than beseech citizens to live good lives, politicians whisper devilishly, "Take what's not yours."  Instead of encouraging citizens to find spiritual meaning, politicians preach that nothing means anything at all.  They vilify religion and repentance, while constructing altars against racism, climate change, hate speech, and free will, so that the lost and hopeless have new things to blame or lead them astray.  In carefully constructed, seductive words, America's politicians blaspheme, "God is dead; worship us instead."

Then some of those same destroyers of lives look at the agony sweeping across America and incredulously wonder why things have gotten so bad.  A sad soul kills far quicker than a germ.  Not COVID, nor climate change, nor income inequality, nor global war kills so coldly as those who drown their countrymen with lies, extinguish purpose from their lives, and sap a nation's spirit of meaning.

Political philosopher Thomas Hobbes argued that without powerful government, life in a state of nature would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."  Men would kill each other, take what they want, and build nothing new.  Yet those with caring families or resilient small towns know that not to be true.  Furthermore, anyone who has either lived through war or has loved ones who have knows that violence does not come easily for most.  One look inside a veterans' hospital or a homeless encampment filled with warriors struggling from PTSD would convince anyone that battle and bloodshed scar both mind and soul.  Men quite naturally avoid violence, while governments quite naturally unleash it.  Take a hard look around the country today.  Under the biggest, most expensive government in the history of the world, Americans are suffering through unforgiving epidemics of loneliness, poverty, incivility, criminality, confusion, self-mutilation, suicide, and defeat.

Neither politicians nor the government they revere will ever fix what troubles America.  Only fools would expect those who have caused the damage capable of furnishing the repairs.  What is broken cannot be restored through endless money-printing, false promises, pantomime investigations, superficial overhauls, or fake tears.  If government is not the answer, though, then nobody need waste time waiting for government solutions that will never appear.

Ask yourself how America has gone from a confident, capable, energetic nation of hard workers looking to be free and spread good to a country lost in its way; starving for purpose; and led by petty tyrants, backstabbing misanthropes, and chickenhawk cowards.  How have American courage, ingenuity, and grit become eclipsed by pusillanimity, dullness, and lily-livered fear?  A nation without spirit has no future, and a people without hearty souls can provide no spirit.

The politicians may have broken the people, but only the people can heal themselves.  That's good news.

Does thinking about America's future in those terms change things?  Yes.  When we refuse to cede our fates to those we abhor and instead claim total responsibility for a future of our own making, then the things that do not matter disappear, and the things that matter most can be seen clearly.  For this nation to long endure, its people must live again, and for the American people to live again, they must live beyond today.  They must feel that tingle down their spines, as they remember that an Almighty God keeps them from ever being alone.  They must feel that choke in the back of their throats as the inescapable truth sets in that every life has purpose.  With hungry souls in desperate need of spiritual food, Americans must open their hearts and minds to the proposition that they are completely known by a loving and forgiving God graciously offering salvation.

Followers of Jesus Christ learn a striking lesson from His teachings.  Two thousand years ago, people lived in basic homes without modern comforts.  Hunger and disease were rampant, as they still are in too many places around the world today.  Political turmoil, violence, and war regularly destroyed lives, as they still do now.  Most people were illiterate and had little time to create or enjoy art.  Looking around at the fallen world, though, God did not send humanity an engineer, plumber, biologist, inventor, military general, author, or artist — at least not in the strictest sense of those words.  More than all of the other problems plaguing this world, it is mankind's suffering from sin and desperation for forgiveness that touch everything.  In agony, we wretched sinners long for absolution, and in answering our prayers, God sent a Savior to offer redemption.

Imagine if our political leaders spoke of forgiveness and redemption as much as they do division, blame, and hate.  Society would have a completely different outlook and direction if Americans ignored those who choose to set us against each other and instead recognized that within all of us lies common suffering.  The world would dance to a different tune if citizens worried about their souls as much as politicians worry about their power.

That requires personal sacrifice — a conscious choice to follow the hard path, even when the easy one beckons.  There's a secret, though, that politicians don't know and would never tell you.  When humans follow the voice inside their heads, sacrifice comes naturally.  You see it on the battlefield, when a spouse loves unconditionally, and when those wronged choose to forgive wholeheartedly.  Humans know what's right and wrong and can help save themselves when acting accordingly.

Image: Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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