Why Bother To Do What is Right?

Why Bother To Do What is Right?

Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day. Americans celebrate this day because it marks the approved resolution which declared U.S. independence from Great Britain with a document entitled the Declaration of Independence. This document was drafted and presented by a committee of five men and approved by the Continental Congress in 1776. 

This grand idea of independence from England was based on a republican model. No longer did the men and women of the thirteen colonies want to be ruled under a monarchy, a political system of unrestrained power of a single person such as a king. 

 Maintaining Independence

George Washington, in his first inaugural address said that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself hath ordained. 

Though democracy was the foundation for our country’s government, its ideas, standards and beliefs had already been adopted as a way of life for many people. Honesty, integrity, self-discipline, courtesy, courage and patience were some of the character qualities displayed by the men who drafted this revolutionary document. These men understood that liberty and responsible living were inseparable. They understood the rules of order and right and that the continuation of  liberty would be an experiment entrusted into the hands of generations yet to come. The original men who drafted and signed this revolutionary document of freedom may be long gone, but their lives and ideals are still trustworthy examples. 

Because the health of our freedom is reliant on the health of its citizens, decline in moral behaviors inhibit our freedom. Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian preacher who was appointed Chaplain to The Senate in 1947 sums up the idea of maintaining our country’s freedom by living morally. “Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases, but the opportunity to please do what is right.” 

Freedom was a gift granted to all of us, but it is up to all of us to retain this liberty. If our desire is to let freedom continue to ring, how then shall we live? Perhaps we can begin living in a way that does not disregard the eternal rules of order and right and instead begin living lives a little more orderly and right. 

Why bother to do what is right? Doing right gives us the opportunity to prolong the idea living in  liberty. 

Why Bother Gathering Around the Table?

Why Bother Gathering Around the Table?

Unlike any other meal of the day, my family, all nine of us, gathered around the old oak claw foot table in the dining room for dinner. It was expected that we do so. This nightly event only had only one moment of silence: when Mom or Dad led us in a prayer of thanksgiving, “Bless us oh Lord, in these our gifts, for which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

After that, mayhem happened to which my mother constantly rose from her chair to tend to. “Where’s the salt and pepper?” “Mom, Mark just spilled his milk.” “Is there any more bread?” Yet, despite the commotion around the evening meal, Mom’s enduring work of bringing us together had its lasting effects on my life.  

Those Who Eat Together, Get Close Together

First of all, dinner was the expected and appointed time that we came together. Everyone knew that at 6:00 p.m. you’d better home with hands washed and seated at the table. Any other activities, including talking on the phone, doing homework, or riding your bike around the block took second place to something much more important: the family dinner. 

Although Mom was not the best of cooks, she managed to feed us the basic nutritious Midwest cuisine: meat, potatoes, bread and canned or frozen vegetables. If we were lucky, there was also dessert, ice cream or pudding, but you’d better have your  plate cleaned up first. 

Eating dinner around the table was Mom’s training ground for teaching her seven offspring their table manners.  If your elbow was on the table, Mom reminded you that it did not belong there by poking the offending appendage with her fork. If you chewed or talked with your mouth full, she gave you the “look” that made you change your way in a hurry. A piece of bread or your knife, never your fingers, were used to push that last bit of food onto your fork and napkins belonged on your lap. Finishing our meal, we never left the table without asking, “May I be excused?” 

Dinner also had its set of special chores. I regularly set the table learning that the napkin and fork went on the left while the spoon and knife went on the right. The beverage glass was set just above the fork. Cleaning up after dinner, we were usually assigned the chore of dishwasher, dish dryer or the one who had to put the clean dishes away. 

It wasn’t until I had a family of my own and continued the family dinner tradition that I reflected on why Mom had insisted on this routine. Without her lessons, I could never have taught my sons how to set the table, chew with their mouths closed and remind them that elbows did not belong on the table, albeit I did it without poking them with a fork. I never would have taught them how to cook or clean up a kitchen without remembering the important lessons I’d learned from my mom.  Dinner and the chores surrounding it, had become for me as well as my offspring, the natural place to learn how to be civil and responsible. 

Now, most nights our dinner table is set just for two. It is the place where my husband and I linger, converse and enjoy one another’s company. At least once a week though, we invite others to sit around our dinner table. Sharing a meal with friends feels like the most natural place to be civil and responsible to each other. 

Why bother gathering around the dinner table? When we eat together we share not only the food, but the company and companionship of others.