Last year, when Glenn Beck announced that he was putting together the Nazarene Fund to help Christians who had found themselves in the crosshairs of ISIS, I wanted to help. As we were preparing for a large move at the time and funds were tight, I decided I would make something. So I designed a cross stitch pattern and made this.
I put the pattern and some finished bookmarks on Etsy, in hopes of raising some money for the cause. I sold one pattern, and four bookmarks — and the bookmarks my mother-in-law bought.
In short, it was less than a rousing success.
The pattern itself has stuck with me, however, because of what I meant by making it. At the time, I wrote a little essay to go with it; somehow, despite being more than a year old, that essay has become (I think) more relevant since then. So here it is.
Honor and the Fading Flag
Since the first time I heard it, I’ve always been fond of Ronald Reagan’s admonition to not be “pale pastels, but bold colors that make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all the issues.” I’ve never liked pastels – they’re too demure, and they wash out my complexion when I wear them.
Our nation’s flag is comprised of bold colors, befitting a nation that, for the bulk of its more than two hundred years of existence, has been a courageous and confident advocate for the cause of the smallest minority there is – that of the individual. While the bulk of the world has insisted, to some degree or another, that who and what you are born is the strongest determining factor in your life, we declare without hesitation that it is not the circumstances of your birth but rather what you choose to do with your life that decides your destiny.
Or at least, we used to.
The last seven years have not been an abrupt about face in terms of American policy, but rather an intensification and acceleration of policies that were put in place a hundred years ago. The tree of Progressive ideology was not planted in recent years; it just seems that way with the abundance of fruit it has borne in that time. Those principles which have served as the ideological foundation of this nation have come under attack with a fury that few could have imagined possible just ten years ago. America’s enemies, both internal and external, are coalescing and gaining strength – they’ve smelled the blood in the water, and are moving in for the kill.
The increasingly united shrieking coming from the midst of that madding crowd is telling Americans to sit down, shut up, blend in. Conform. Fade away. Those who don’t comply risk becoming the primary focus of that whirlwind, which will not rest till it has utterly consumed the offender – at which point it moves on to its next victim. Many are unwilling to put themselves in such a vulnerable position, so they do their best to sit down. Shut up. Blend in. And the colors of America begin to fade.
It is in difficult times that the character of a people is revealed, and these are difficult times. They will only get harder. But there is always hope. The fact that parts of America have begun to fade does not change the veracity of those bold ideas on which she was built – we are, each of us, who we choose to be, no matter our surrounding circumstances. We don’t have to fade. The existence of the God-given honor and dignity of the individual was woven into the fabric of this people from the beginning; the only thing the shrinking of our countrymen or the encroaching shadows can do is throw it into sharper relief. But only if we choose to remain true. We are not, nor were we ever meant to be, pale pastels.
We must remain bold. We must remain true. For in so doing, we will not only bear the standard to which the wise and honest may repair – we will become it.