“It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.” –Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
With all of the talk about self-esteem and the need to build it in others, we seem to have missed the mark.
You cannot hand out or award self-esteem.
It can only be earned.
The entry point is learning what is expected of you.
We used to know what was expected. We understood what was right and what was wrong. We were law-abiders. Those that were not, were dealt with in a clearly defined manner. Justice was valued and upheld.
When my son Caleb joined the Marine Corps, I was in such a torment over what those big guys would do to my baby boy. And they did it, stretching him to his limits and beyond. The man who emerged was confident and sure of what he could do and how to do it. There were rules and standards and the aggressive pursuit of courage and honor and commitment. These are the core values of the Marine Corps and they were drilled into them day and night until they became a part of them. He knew what was expected and no one questioned what response would be made in a given situation. Those standards serve him still.
There is no self-esteem in being a robot, but there is an abundant supply in the confidence of knowing and understanding your worth and your contribution to the world.
Demoralize means to undermine the confidence or morale of; to discourage; to corrupt or degrade. It undercuts the confidence of an individual by continually removing the foundation on which they stand. Boundary lines are encroached upon, covenants broken. What was understood is shaken and obliterated for new and evolving rules and consequences.
We have been demoralized as a nation.
Instead of clear ideas of what we are to do, we swim through muddied waters, the truth and the law obscured by new and dangerous tides. Regulation and needless red tape have entwined themselves around those who are still trying to move forward in ways that stifle progress. Our assurance of justice is not un-wavering because we have seen it perverted before and so we are uneasy about anything that could land us in court. That only hastens the slide into compliance and cowering.
May we recognize the symptoms of the demoralizing effect of transient and capricious edicts and begin mining back down to the eternal standards of right and wrong.
They have not changed. They remain. Let’s go back and restore that foundation again.
Jeremiah 6:16, New International Version (NIV): “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’”