Diary

The Only Thing That Will Save Us

A few years ago, I had the chance to go to Washington, DC, and visit the National Archives. After spending some time waiting in line to view the Declaration of Independence and our precious Constitution, I sadly noted how very much the ink on the brittle pages had faded. National Archive experts had filled the sealed document cases with nitrogen in order to keep the molecules of ink from lifting off, floating away, and disappearing forever. I was told that it was a vain task and that inevitably, the ink would leave, and the pages would be left blank. Hearing this, I began to think about how these precious words which functioned to create the best government the world has ever known–these words are likewise being lost to the American people. The Constitution’s paradigm of government; the restrictions on tyranny; the ordering of our justice system; they were all being lost by corrupt judges and self-interested politicians. I cannot help but conclude that soon, perhaps inevitably, the words of the Constitution will be lost to us and that we will no longer be governed by that inspired document.

As a country, we have mis-educated ourselves into believing that our wisdom is greater than that of our eighteenth century forebearers. Some have said that because the Founding Fathers didn’t eliminate slavery from the beginning, they are somehow transformed into a pack of raving lunatics and racist bigots. Others feel that people born 200 years ago, cannot possibly fathom how to govern a “modern” people. Truly, few of the writers of the Constitution would have believed that one day a supreme court justice no less would complain that the Constitution was not the law of the land and that the justices’ views of “what is right” should instead prevail.

A relevant story: Some decades ago, an Arizona minister who also had a private pilot’s license, heard a 2 a.m. knock on his door. A lady member of his congregation stood at threshold, looking both grief-stricken and humble. Inviting her in, she explained that her husband was involved in a serious auto accident in an adjoining state. During the phone call, doctors could not assure her that he would survive until the morning. “Please,” she asked the pastor. “Could you help by flying me to be beside by husband? If this is his last day on earth, I want to be by his side.”Moved by her entreaty, the minister recalled that a cold front was slated to come through the area and that leaving the local airport in such a small craft, under those conditions, was not safe for himself and his grief-stricken church member. But compassion moved him to accept and he quickly dressed and drove her to the local airport. After a hurried take off in the stormy darkness, the small plane was jostled severely as it struggled to gain altitude. But he knew his destination well and had little fear of arriving safely. At one point in the buffeting darkness a severe shock to the plane caused him to glance over at his passenger to provide reassurance, if needed. She sat still, looking forward, dimly lit by the instruments and not exhibiting the smallest reaction to the storm swirling around them.

Looking back at his prop, the minister felt that something had gone wrong in those brief seconds that he glanced away. Scanning around, he saw a few stars peeking through the clouds, and the fog-covered ground below. All was well. But in the next few seconds, the thought kept recurring, “all is not well; check your instruments.” Despite seeing the stars above and the cloud-covered mountains surrounding the valley, below, the plane’s artificial horizon appeared to show that the plane was upside down and descending! “It cannot be!” he thought. He had seen the stars on one side and the ground on the other, and, besides, his body felt that the small plane was climbing out of the mountains, not heading downward towards them! In the momentary confusion, the thought came again, but stronger: “Trust your instruments!”

Fighting everything that his body was screaming at him, the pilot began to turn his craft upside down and as he did so: only then did he begin to realize that the stars he saw peeking through clouds were actually the lights of farm houses near the base of the mountains–shining through the low cloud cover. The turbulence had spun them upside down!

Today, we are buffeted by turbulence. We see the government of our once great nation in a state of confusion. We hear voices from every side saying “go here!” or “go there!” Friends, our only answer lies here: We must trust those who established this government and Constitution. We must trust their Constitution as the instrument of our freedom. Let us overcome the conceit of our age and realize that wisdom is an eternal commodity.

If we can overcome our fears and trust that this precious document will lead us to both prosperity and freedom, I can assure all that the results we seek will not be long in coming.