Tomorrow, something utterly ridiculous, but today, some Chesterton:
“But there is one thing that I have never from my youth up been able to understand. I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. . . If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”
Isn’t that so well put? I have been having discussions with my besties about the importance of remembrance. We all know how important it is to learn history in order to avoid the mistakes of the past, but sometimes we talk with a tone that sounds a lot like arrogance. It seems to say, “We know better.” Yes, we might know more, but to suppose we know better is foolishness.
My best friend and I are both Pastors’ kids and we were recently talking about the privilege of this perspective. There is something that happens when you have a front row seat to watching someone give their life away, in service to our King. An appreciation of all who have gone before gets nurtured. Whether I agree with the person or not, my respect for a lifetime of sacrifices, begs me to listen for truths well earned.
I am increasingly aware that anything I am able to accomplish in this world has everything to do with the people on whose shoulders I stand. My thoughts, my ideas, they are not wholly my own. There are so many that have spoken into my life and taught me lessons. Some, I spoke to once. Some, I did life with for a season. Some, I never met: Chesterton, Lewis, Chambers, etc. Some gave me my allowance. 😉
So, as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, let us speak with appreciation and gratitude. Let us honor them as we push forward, reminding them that our accomplishments are the extension of their sacrifice. Let us listen to/read their thoughts as they might be solutions to the problems we now face. And, more than anything, let us be encouraged by the supernatural faith of ordinary men (and women).
“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” Hebrews 11:39-40