Ever notice that when someone incapable of proper stewardship of their own constitutional rights perpetrates a heinous crime, the knee jerk reaction is to demand that our national leaders take actions to limit the rights of the law-abiding?
That was the topic of the Colonel's personal ruminations this past weekend.
Until he read some Scripture that convicted him that neither our nation's culture nor a lack of national leadership was at the root of its clear and accelerating slide toward irrelevancy.
It's all the Colonel's fault.
The Colonel bears personal responsibility for the decline of our once-great republic.
The Colonel has long felt a degree of professional responsibility for the decline of the republic.
After all, he did swear a solemn and as yet unrevoked oath to "defend the Constitution..., against all enemies." He did so with the clear understanding that his very life was pledged to that requirement. Still is.
The Colonel is way too hard on himself, you say? Wait, it gets harder.
But first, a little history to set the scene...
A little over 2700 years ago, the ascendant military and economic super-power in the Middle East was the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians expanded their empire by overwhelming their neighbors with a technologically-advanced military, and maintained their empire by displacing and replacing the former inhabitants of captured lands. Every last bit of treasure, right down to every lumber-bearing tree, was stripped from conquered lands and brought back to increase the wealth and prosperity of the Assyrians.
They were awesome!
The Colonel digresses...
In the path of Assyrian expansion to its south and west lay the lands occupied by the Hebrew tribes -- by this time (after the passing of the unifying kingships of David and Solomon), divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
God's prophets had long warned that God's "Chosen People" would someday suffer divine punishment for their national sin against God. The gathering Assyrian storm proved to be the instrument of God's justice, about which they prophesied.
One prophet, Hosea, wrote poetically that Israel would fall to the Assyrians as a consequence of turning away from God, while at the same time continuing to boast of being "God's People."
The Book of Hosea begins with his own personal story of love, betrayal, and redemption -- mirroring God's experience with His people.
Clearly, Hosea understood that even the largest nation was still a collection of individuals, each responsible his or her own actions.
After setting the tone of individual personal responsibility, Hosea wrote that the fate of Israel at the hands of God's instrument -- Assyria -- was a result of "sowing the wind" for which they would "reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7).
"Sowing the wind," for the LSU and Bama grads struggling to keep up, is emblematic of the empty, fruitless pursuits of an undisciplined, uncommitted, and selfish people (see current American culture, in which we ALL are willing participants to one undisciplined, uncommited, selfish degree or another).
Whirlwinds bring nothing but destruction, death, and heartbreak.
The vast majority of Hosea's poetic prophecy is filled with imagery of the destruction and heartbreak of a sinful nation, and its individual members. But, there is one brief interlude wherein Hosea pauses to provide a narrow off-ramp from the highway to hell.
"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you." Hosea 10:12
"...break up your fallow ground."
The Colonel was struck that he possesses a lot of fallow ground in his life. Ground (gifts, skills, abilities) that should be producing fruit for others.
The Colonel is convinced that revival of our nation's greatness will begin not in national policy, but in the heart of each of us.
What is your fallow ground?
Ask God. He'll tell you.