America's soul depends on 'self-control' by us all


Jim Bridges

Friday, July 19, 2019

“America, the Beautiful” deals with two kinds of beauty. Only the first verse, about “amber waves of grain and purple mountains’ majesties” deals with physical beauty. Humans had nothing to do with this physical beauty. It is the gift of either some higher power or of billions of years of incremental progress. The last three verses deal with America’s spiritual beauty.

Though we today think of stress as always bad, “impassioned stress” in the pursuit of freedom is good. “God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control ... liberty in law.” It’s beautiful to realize that we have flaws and that we try to remove them. It’s beautiful to see that America’s soul depends upon the “self-control” by all of us. Without self-control, we have no souls, individually or collectively.

“Liberty in law” suggests that law is more important than liberty. Perhaps you can’t have one without the other.

“Liberating strife” implies that just wars are those in which the real purpose is to liberate others, not to take their land or their oil.

Other words imply that we should be a country in which “success” means increasing in nobleness or divinity, not amassing fortunes. When we hear “X” say, “Donald is a great success,” we assume that he is rich in nobility and divinity.

Jim Bridges

Elizabeth City

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