May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ronald Reagan: A Personal Tribute On His 100th Anniversary

The most powerful influence in my personal life was my father. Most influence in my religious life is CS Lewis. The most powerful influence in my political thinking is Ronald Reagan. Today is the 100th anniversary of his birth.

In 1980 I was “spiritual but not religious” and a Marxist. I was anti anything Reagan said or represented. That year I heard a speech by him. At the end of that speech I found myself thinking that what he was saying was true. How could this be? It flew in the face of every socio-political and economic belief I had. What became clear was that I had beliefs; that those beliefs were based only on what people that thought like me wrote and said. Those beliefs were not based on analysis, fact, knowledge, or wisdom. I had to own up to my being intellectually narrow minded and lazy; that I had not read or listened to any Conservative other than WF Buckley. He was in fact, the only Conservative I was aware of. I only knew of Conservative thought what fellow Leftists said about it.

The journey moving from being a Statist to Conservative began, and it took most of the eighties for me to totally reject socialism, the idea that government was the ultimate good for the Citizens of this, or any country. I began by reading two books, Up From Liberalism by WF Buckley and The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater.

That speech also began another journey, my acceptance of Christianity. There is a powerful Christian message in what Reagan said and did. That journey, my conversion, took much longer. I was pretty much an established Conservative by the end of Reagan’s presidency, but didn't return to the church until about 1994 and was baptized in 1996. It makes perfectly good sense that these two, Conservatism and Christianity are merged, because the principles of free will, liberty, the sanctity of life, and compassion are all part of it. Statists claim to believe in the same, but in fact they are provably about power and state control. They are secularists and reject Christianity for a reason; it stands against what they truly believe. I’ve been there, and they can say it ain’t so, and if they do, they are liars.

When Reagan was inaugurated, his Bible was opened to a specific passage:
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Our nation was broken. “Malaise” was the description of our plight (used by President Carter) with double digit inflation, the Iran hostage debacle, high unemployment, energy shortages, an impoverished and demoralized military that I experienced first hand, and increasing food prices.

Looking at Carter and Obama, they both say we have to cut back, sacrifice, do with less, and submit more to government. The thing is, the only reason there’s a shortage of anything, it’s because government creates shortages.

Reagan from his autobiography:
"We had strayed a great distance from our Founding Fathers' vision of America. They regarded the central government's responsibility as that of providing national security, protecting our democratic freedoms, and limiting the government's intrusion in our lives -- in sum, the protection of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They never envisioned vast agencies in Washington telling our farmers what to plant, our teachers what to teach, our industries what to build. The Constitution they wrote established sovereign states, not mere administrative districts for the federal government. They believed in keeping government as close as possible to the people."
 From his Farewell Address:
"It's been the honor of my life to be your president. So many of you have written the past few weeks to say thanks, but I could say as much to you. ...
It's been quite a journey this decade, and we held together through some stormy seas. And at the end, together, we are reaching our destination. ...
The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we're a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our First Principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. ...
"Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which 'We the People' tell the government what it is allowed to do. 'We the People' are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I've tried to do these past eight years. ...
"I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts. ...
"Action is still needed, if we're to finish the job. An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. ...
"I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan Revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed like the Great Rediscovery -- a rediscovery of our values and our common sense. ...
"Goodbye, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."
 God bless you Ronald Reagan, from the bottom of my heart, and with all my intellect, for the personal, national, and international guidance, wisdom and strength you provided.   

3 comments:

S. R. Piccoli said...

Thanks for posting this, Steven.

P.S. It seems that there is some similarity between your political path and mine...

Mirino said...

The greats often seem to begin by not being taken seriously enough. Yet ironically, in Ronald Reagan's case, he figured as a far greater President of the USA than he ever figured as a star of the screen. Perhaps one can also say that his greatness was also determined by his humility.

LearningByReading said...

Nice to see CS Lewis' name. His "Mere Christianity" changed my life :)