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John Livingston

Family and Freedom Gratitude and Thanksgiving

I read with deep respect the Memorial Day Post from the Ammon Bundy campaign about the life and passing of Lt. Lincoln Bundy who died during the Normandy invasion after having been shot down in his P-51 Mustang and captured and taken to a German concentration camp where he was finally executed. The story was about family and freedom. In my opinion, this is what the Bundy campaign should be about. Family and freedom.

The story also gives witness to the Bundy family’s faith and the witness of the matriarch of the family—Lt. Bundy’s mother. There is a very important connection between freedom and family that is not being addressed adequately by Christian conservatives. The only gift that God gives us is our free will and liberty is a direct extension of our individual free will. Everything else we possess —our talents, skills, and possessions we “hold in trust”. The Christian ideal is that it is God who should be at the center of our life—not ourselves. Decisions we make should be based on His Law, not on emotions or feelings that are subject to manipulation by our own motives and prejudices. Trying to discern a moral argument when we place ourselves at the center of the issue is the ultimate form of “agency bias”. We see this in the Right to life argument of “my body, my choice”. Making the issue about the mother and not the baby in the womb who the mother has been given “agency”—responsibility and duty to protect, is actually self-worship and a form of “idolatry” that Isaiah warned us about.

The obligations and duties we have in life are first to God. Earthly responsibilities are defined by our relationship to God, and not by any selfish interest. Where do most of our politicians place themselves? What about our sports heroes and celebrity movie stars? Is celebrity celebrated more today than unselfish sacrifice? Many years ago, I took my children to the Humanitarian Hall of Fame. There were three inductees that year. Arthur Ash (the first Black tennis star to win the US Open) —represented by his brother Johnny who had been a former patient of mine, John Elway, and Joe Bellino, the Heisman Trophy winning Navy football player from the early 1960’s. The line of kids to see John Elway was over a block long. Joe Bellino and Johnny Ash—two to three people. Navy Captain Bellino was dressed in his formal Dress White uniform and was flanked by two active-duty Captains similarly dressed. It is not who we celebrate, but what we celebrate that informs us how to act under difficult conditions. Service or celebrity?

I don’t hear many talking openly about their faith. Their “faith” should be an integral part of the discernment process that I hope they go through when they make decisions that are going to affect faithful Godly individuals and families. The reason this is important is that politics—like war, is the projection of power. Power can be used for good or bad. For the Christian with an eye looking toward the infinite, decisions that are made today will affect generations to come. For those who embrace secular values the limit of their timeline is their own lifespan. Decisions that have only short-term ramifications will be different if the long view isn’t considered. The Judges and Prophets and Kings in the Old Testament, and the Saints and Church fathers in the New Testament always thought in terms of perpetuity—the long term. The moral predicate stays the same across all the generations “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be…”

That is why the picture we are today painting for the future of our families should be first informed by our pasts. Stories like the Bundy story, stories about individual sacrifices that were made by so many Americans—brothers, sisters, mothers’ fathers, sons, and daughters who sacrificed their futures for our futures not even knowing us, requires that we do everything in our power to carry on those stories and honor them. These heroes weren’t always perfect. History is not always black and white—nor is political propaganda promulgated by self-serving media. There is no question that the evil of slavery is our great corporate sin, but the courageous acts of over 700,000 people who died to overthrow slavery should always also be remembered. Selfless sacrifice of so many, most who had nothing to gain, most who had no personal skin in the game, has allowed our country to be great and allowed us to live the lives we live. The selfless sacrifice of 400,000 sons and daughters in WWII, and the pain of their loss to their loved ones, selfless sacrifices made by courageous men and women in other conflicts that have followed, should be what we tell our children. Will future generations judge us the way we have judged past actions of our forefathers? What about the killing of 65million little baby girls and boys since ROE? It is important that in our minds and actions we don’t “play God”. It is also important that we ask ourselves in our own minds and around family gatherings are we today willing to make the sacrifices to secure the futures of our families? In perpetuity?

Thank you, Lt. Bundy. Thank you to all who have sacrificed for my liberty and freedom.

Politics should foremost be about family and freedom cloaked in gratitude and thanksgiving.

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