As a boy growing up in the heart of the northern Adirondacks, I was very independent and really enjoyed being my own person. I was never one to follow the crowd, and usually took my own path no matter where it might lead. What I learned along the way was to value what past generations handed down to me, and I learned to listen for the voice of truth, no matter who it came through. No doubt, I got this frame of reference from my father, who was one of the last “old-time” Adirondack guides. He was born on the Emmons homestead in Bloomingdale, NY in August of 1905. Dad loved our family’s heritage and spoke fondly of the life they had carved out in the Adirondacks, and the faith they had lived out in those rugged mountains and valleys.
One thing was certain, dad tended to do things the old way. He had been deeply impacted by the great depression of 1929 and had lived through the struggles of World War II. He, and those of his generation, knew the importance of just doing things for themselves. Dad was a an excellent craftsmen with wood, a self-taught jeweler, electro-plater, welder, plumber, electrician, house painter and artist, among many other things. He preferred to use hand saws and butt plaines over powered tools. He preferred wood heat over the oil furnace in our basement, and he liked kerosene lamps and lanterns more than electric lights. He loved gardening, fishing and hunting when it came to putting food on our table. Above all this he always, and I mean always carried a jack knife, which he called a “pen knife”. That term came from the fact that he, and all the generations before him, used a quill pen. Thus, they all carried a “pen” knife to keep the end of the quill pen sharp.
The point is, we really are who we are because of two things. One is the people who influenced our lives and the other is the voice of truth we listened to. I was as independent as my father because his ways and words had been passed down to me. These had come down to him from his parents, who married and started their family in the 1880’s. They in turn, got their values and mode of operation from the generation who had lived before and during the Civil War. Even more amazing is that Dad’s grandparents, and that whole generation, had gotten their values and practices from those who had lived during the years surrounding the Revolutionary War. So, a portion of my way of thinking and my view of life has actually been shaped by those who lived and died with George Washington, Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Imagine that!!!
When I think of this historical connection it simply rocks my mind. What my ancestors believed, what they did and where they went in the 1700’s still echoes down the centuries to have a clear expression in me, my children and grandchildren. Our lives and beliefs are the product of all those generations. We all carry a jack knife and we all love to sit by an evening fire out back. We enjoy gardening, love to hunt and can’t wait to find a new trout stream for a meal of fresh fish. We all like to fix things on our own and we enjoy helping others fix their stuff as well. We hold to our Christian faith and walk in it’s teachings as the guiding principles of life, just the way my father’s parents and all their ancestors did.
Every bit the above brings me to a very sobering reality for us all. The whole chain of personal historical continuity, that which makes an Emmons an Emmons, or a Smith a Smith, could ended in a flash. Every trait, every guiding principle, every shred of personal family heritage that makes us what we are could be gone in a moment. How is that possible, you might ask. Well, all it takes is just one generation to reject the voice of truth. If one generation does not value where we came from, and by default simply fails to get and pass along the values we all hold dear, then everything that makes any family what it always has been, will be gone forever. For some that might be a good thing, but for the vast majority of Americans it would be our worst nightmare, and sad to say, we are now being pushed headlong in that direction.
Consider what has happened through the American education system over the last 40 years. As a public school teacher, I saw the shift first hand, that came to public education between 1976 and 2012. It began in our colleges when they hired liberal professors to influence impressionable, young students. These rejected our historical foundations and embrace a repackaging of socialism as the way to go. No one saw it coming, and few recognized where it was going. These college students soon graduated and were hired as teachers. They carefully advocated and taught their students to embrace the same left leaning liberal ideology, while parents were busy making a living. That altered view of reality was put into the curriculum with ease and no one recognized it for what it was.
The results has been astounding. We now see an entire generation of people who have been reeducated about America, and it’s history. They don’t know about our Christian foundations or believe it’s morality and ethics. They are hostile towards the principles of the Bible and reject the traditional family, both of which have been the bedrock of American life, law and justice. They view any other belief but their own to be hate-filled speech or racism, which needs to be legislated against and punished. They see no need to protect their own children in the womb, but fiercely prosecute, fine and jail anyone who dares to disturb a green sea turtle egg or burn a styrofoam cup. How did all this happen? It happened because one generation simply rejected the voice of truth!
If you want one clear example just look at Thanksgiving. It is now taught in public schools as a feast where Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for the harvest. There is no mention of the fact that this was a celebration dedicated to thanking God. Historical records clearly state that this feast celebrated God’s blessing upon the harvest. It was His blessing for the friendship with the Indians and the main focus was on His abundant goodness over all the year. It recognized God’s grace and love as a Savior in keeping them safe in this new Christian based colony. In schools there is no mention of the Mayflower Compact’s many references to God. There is no mention of the charters drawn up by all the new colonies that gave glory to God for His divine help in this difficult new world. In fact, any mention of God is immediately attacked and dismissed as dangerous, non-educational, unfit for discussion and nothing more than radical, religious rhetoric.
The question I am asked over and over is “What happened and what do we do now? How do we return to who we really are as a nation and as families?” The answer is not simple but it is doable. We must reconnect to our heritage and not embrace any ideology that is contrary to the facts, or the Bible. Get back to a good church, read the Bible to your kids and teach your children and grandchildren the truth. Make family and family life a priority. Your children need to see the love and respect you have for each other as husband and wife. This is foundational to their security and establishes a sense of well-being in their lives. Teach them about our American history so they feel a patriotic sense of connection to this nation, and those who serve it. Finally, give your best in all you do and pray for your family, for our leaders and for the nation. As we serve others and pray, we invite God back into our lives and country. He is the One who really has the answers we are all looking for.
Do we want to see this nation become all it was intended to be? Do we want our children and grandchildren to still feel our good influence in the decades to come? If we do, then it’s time to hear the voice of truth once again. If we have an open and honest heart it’s easy. What’s not so easy is the willingness to walk in what that voice is calling us to do. Our ancestors pledged their lives and fortunes to birth this wonderful country. Here, anyone could live as one people under our Constitution and one nation under God. I believe a rebirth of national identity and family life can come to America. My question is, should we expect it to cost us any less than it cost our Founding Fathers? The voice of truth is speaking,….. do we really want to hear what it has to say?