Tuesday, April 21, 2015
#111 / One Life To Give
Nathan Hale, who is pictured to the left, is remembered for his last words, as he was executed by the British during the Revolutionary War: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
Intentionally or not, Hale was echoing, in a way, a statement found in the Book of John, Chapter 15, Verse 13: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down one's life for one's friends."
"Giving one's life," or "laying down one's life" for one's country has come to be seen as the way that we can give that "last, full measure of devotion" that defines patriotism.
And "laying down one's life," or "giving one's life," is commonly understood to mean "dying."
I would like to suggest another interpretation. "My" life, or "your" life, is the life that I (or you) have proposed and want to live, to accomplish what we want to accomplish during the time we have been give to live. It is "our" life because we do, in fact, choose every moment what we will do, and our choices define "our" life.
Laying down "our" life means giving up the life we might propose to lead, the life that would be "our" life, to make another choice; for instance, to do something that we might not choose to do for ourselves, but that we do because we do it for "our country," or "our community," or for any purpose other than to satisfy our own will and desires.
Such a sacrifice can, of course, include actually "dying" for the greater cause, but it doesn't have to. Giving one's life for one's country or community has only to mean that we forego what we might otherwise have proposed to do, and do something, instead, that is mainly intended to fill a need larger than our own desires and ambitions.
Ever think about running for office, stepping up to act as a representative for the community that needs elected officials who will sacrifice their "own" projects to accomplish something on behalf of the greater community?
If you haven't thought about it, and it's clear that lots of good people haven't, then start thinking about it now.
There is no greater love than this, that a person will lay down his or her own life on behalf of others. Sometimes, in fact, and I speak from experience, that is precisely the way to find the life you have always hoped for, for yourself.