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The Willingness to Give

The Willingness to Give

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Published by Camp Constitution

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Published by: Camp Constitution on Dec 26, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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by Dennis Behreandt 
t seems as if the world has been turnedupside down, that modern societiesare competing to see who can jet-tison thousands of years of civilizationthe quickest. Using evolutionary theoryfor comparison, it seems as if culture, inAmerica and around the world, is in a raceto the bottom that sees humans transmog-rifying from rational, civil, faithful beingsinto animals eager to obey only the basestinstincts.For pessimists, the retail shopping ram-page known as Black Friday — the dayafter Thanksgiving when most retailerstry to lure shoppers to stores with specialbargains — is a case in point. What reallyshould be a day of fun and of joy in select-ing gifts to give to friends and loved onesat Christmas has become a selfish free-for-
In an age of pessimism, we need to be reminded that America is still largelyfree and good
and is still a shining city on a hill, a light to all nations.
all that reminds one more of a hungry pack of dogs fighting over a few scraps of foodthan of the civilized behavior of moral andrational beings.Consider this most recent Black Fri-day. According to the
 New York Times
,this year 15,000 eager shoppers lined upoutside a shopping mall in Utah waitingfor the doors to open at midnight. Whenthey finally got in, it was a stampede.“Once inside,” the
reported, “shop-pers ransacked stores, overturning pilesof clothes as they looked for bargains. Aretailer’s dream — too many customers!— quickly turned into a nightmare, forc-ing store clerks to shut their doors, andonly let people in after others left. Themall even briefly closed its outside doorsto avoid a fire hazard. ‘It’s like a mosh pit,’said Lexie Dewegel, 19. ‘You get pushedeverywhere.’”What to make of this? For years — dec-ades even — conservative-minded Ameri-cans have opposed the secular, multi-cultural, relativist, left-wing attack ontraditional values and have lamented thedepredations that have been the result of that attack. That attack, and the inroads ithas made, accounts for much dismay andpessimism, but it is compounded by thehabits of the news media. “Bad news sells”is a truism that hardly needs elaboration —but the propensity for the papers and TVnews to carry stories of crime, war, theft,and rapine necessarily reinforces the ideathat the end of civilization is near.The news is history in embryonic form,and the great historians Will and ArielDurant remind us “that history as usu-ally written is quite different from his-tory as usually lived: the historian recordsthe exceptional because it is interesting— because it is exceptional.” So too doesthe news only report the exceptional, thestrange, and the unusual. Only those eventsthat rise above the background noise of normalcy receive notice. Evil is done inthe world, and problems abound, but ourperception as to the prevalence of evil andof cultural rot and decay is skewed out of proportion, magnified by our fascinationwith the morbid and the extreme.Clearly there is evil, but the perceptionof a superabundance of evil obscures thetruth about America: that there are mil-lions upon millions of people living “nor-mal” lives in which they, quite heroically,devote themselves to their families,work hard, give freely to charity,go to church or synagogue, and liveat peace with their neighbors. Andtoo, it obscures the uplifting factthat in America, unique among na-tions, the natural, God-given rightsand dignities of all citizens are as of yet largely respected and protected.Consequently, the United States rose
American generosity:
A shopper gives money to the Salvation Army during that organization’sfamous Christmastime Red Kettle Campaign. Americans are the most generous people on Earth,giving some $260 billion to charity each year.
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to become the most prosperous, energetic,and advanced nation, technologically andculturally, the world has ever seen.
Everyday Heroes
When committed fanatics attacked Amer-ica on 9/11, they left behind carnage on ascale not witnessed in a post-World WarII urban center. Thousands died and twoof the world’s tallest buildings, testamentsboth to American engineering genius andcommercial might, lay broken in ruinson the streets of Manhattan. Yet amongthe indelible images of that day are thoseof the heroes, the individual New York policemen and firefighters chief amongthem, who rushed to the scene (and evenup into the buildings shortly before theircollapse) in a valiant effort to save asmany people as possible. They knewit was probably going to be a one-way trip, and almost without a doubt,they feared for their own safety andworried about the loved ones they leftbehind at home. But they pressed on,to their deaths in many cases, grimlydetermined to do their best to save thevictims of that horrible day becauseduty and honor demanded no less.Cynics may question whether Americastill deserves to be called the “home of the brave,” but the actions of the heroesof 9/11 stand as immortal testaments thatcourage abounds here.The great martyrs of 9/11 proved thatAmerica is a nation of heroes, that they areall around us at all times, and that whenthey are needed they will appear.Such is the story of Wisconsin State Pa-trol officer Les Boldt. July 19, 2004 was apicture-perfect summer day in Green Bay,Wisconsin, when Boldt got the word to beon the lookout for a woman who was suf-fering from depression and who, her fam-ily thought, might be prone to hurt her-self. Boldt spotted the woman in her carand pursued her in a chase that reachedmore than 100 miles per hour. Finally,the woman stopped her car on the city’stall Leo Frigo bridge, got out, walked tothe side of the bridge, and threw herself over the guardrail to certain death 200 feetbelow. But just as she disappeared over theside, as dramatically recorded on his squadcar’s video camera, officer Boldt lungedover the side of the bridge and caught thewoman’s arm, saving her from plunging toher death in the waters of the Fox River farbelow. He clung to her until help arrived,even as the distraught woman struggled toget away.In an interview on CNN, Boldt, who isa hero, protested that he is just an ordinaryguy: “There’s a lot of other law enforce-ment officers and other people out therethat do the same thing I do. I get it on tape,which you know then it gets in the lime-light. So, it’s — other people do the sametype of things. It just doesn’t always getinto the limelight.” Boldt was right: thereare other people who do the work he does,and they too deserve recognition for theirexemplary service. It just goes to provethat heroes are everywhere in America.
Christmas giving:
Volunteers sort Christmas gifts for Operation Christmas Child, a program run by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity. In 2005,the program delivered over 7 million “shoebox” gifts worldwide.
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