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A revolution of values (06/28/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns
A literary critic once wrote, “I don’t put much faith in writers who write more than they read.” We all have a great deal to learn from each other.

A gentle man with magnetic wisdom, the Reverent Billy Graham’s Prayer For Our Nation should be read by every U.S. citizen:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!”

A nation that proclaims to be largely Christian, the USA received less than a respectable nod in the April Reader’s Digest’s survey, which reveals the number of people who said they pray every day and those who never do. People in the global East show a higher percentage than those of the West. Fifty-five percent of U.S. people say they pray daily, while nine percent never pray. “

The “how,” “what,” and “to whom” of prayer is a spiritual division between cultures, religions, sects, etc., when it seems perfectly logical that it would unite all people of all nations.

Another great man of words and moralistic convictions was Martin Luther King Jr. I recently read an excerpt of his speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence,” that was delivered at a meeting of clergy and laity in New York City. It blew me away!

Its relevance today is uncanny, though King delivered this speech on April 14, 1967, exactly one year before he was gunned down.

Way back then King was denouncing the world role our nation had taken making peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. He reasoned, “…we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.”

This speech stressed the inhumane aspects of war, “of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged…” He cautioned, way back in 1967, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Instead, King stressed, “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” King advocated ecumenical unity when he said, “Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in the individual societies.” “…a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.”

These words of King’s warned of world leaders who “Possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

Is “spiritual death” misunderstood or taken seriously? Down through the ages, wise men and women have been speaking out against evil. Though love one day will prevail, how much suffering and degradation must the battered world endure before the ultimate battle is won?

John F. Kennedy once said, “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”

Janet Burns has lived in Lewiston all her life. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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