Saturday, July 4, 2015

Commitment is a Verb

By Chaplain Ed Evans

          The word “commitment” has always seemed to me to be a word of action.
          But as my high school English teacher would affirm, “commitment” is a noun.  It doesn’t describe anything so it’s not an adjective, and contrary to what I think, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary says it is not a verb, not an action word.
          What “commitment” is, says the dictionary, is a promise to do or give something; to be loyal to someone or something; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something.  Now, those all sound like actions to me, but I won’t quibble because I would rather discuss what one of our patriot forefathers – John Adams – had to say regarding “commitment”.
          What brought this subject to mind is that I had been spending the 4th of July watching a series of patriotic films on the Turner Classic Movie TV channel, specifically the movie "1776", the three hour portrayal of the newly formed American Congress as they struggled through creating the Declaration of Independence, accepting the difficult task of setting aside their own families and fortunes to put this nation on the course destiny held for it. 
          While visiting Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to spend time in that room used by those men, so watching that portrayal had a special interest for me.
          The give and take of crafting that remarkable document – the Declaration of Independence – brought about several verbal and physical assaults.  The original document crafted by Thomas Jefferson saw hundreds of words deleted and added.
          Three quotes in the film stayed with me, perhaps because those three lines were also matters of history.  In the first, Benjamin Franklin assures his fellow members of that first Colonial Congress that if they do not hang together on this issue, they shall surely hang separately.  Once the document is signed, John Hancock is the first signee but the discussions continue until Hancock declares, “Gentlemen, if we are arrested now, my signature is still the only one on the damn thing!”
          But it is one of the final quotes by John Adams to which I wish to direct your attention.  In the film, Abigail Adams finds it necessary to remind her husband, John Adams, of what he has said to her many times: “There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth - those with a commitment and those who require the commitment of others.”
          I bring that quote to your attention because in our current day and age, it seems to be the very quality of commitment that is missing, covered over and shoved out of place by political correctness.  It’s my private theory that “PC” is a loose invention by the unprincipled to have their way over critical thinking; an excuse for stereotyping, glossing over, and not dealing with reality.
          I believe John Adams must have been an intellectual prophet of sorts, or perhaps humanity has not really progressed all that much since the 1700’s.  For throughout the United States and the entire world itself, John Adams’ observation remains true.  There are those who are committed to a cause, and those whos e3ntire survival often depends upon those who are committed to a cause.
          U.S. Marines like to quote the words of a Marine from the Korean War era: “Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share. -- Captain J.E. "Ned" Dolan, USMC (Ret.) Platoon Leader E/2/7, Korean War.  There you have an example of commitment, and those who will only survive by the commitment of others.
          Finally, there is one last Korean War era quote I would share with you, from 1st Marine Division Chaplain Father Kevin Keaney, “You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth -- and the amusing thing about it is that they are.”
          Where is your commitment?  To yourself, your skill, your God?  The word of God tells us commitment should be found in various aspects of our life: commitment to our families, neighbors, employers, the church, our health, and in everything that we do and say.  Those things are referenced in Ephesians 6:5; Hebrews 10:25; and 1st Corinthians 6:19 and 31. Commitment to all the things we might expect.  And yet, the Bible also teaches the chief commitment of our lives must be to God Himself. Jesus said, in Matthew 22:37-38, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”  True, it’s a commandment to us, but it should also be a sacred commitment by us.  Are we committed, or relying on the commitment of others?

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