Good morning everyone. My name is Skylar Black, and I've been called to serve in the Quito, Ecuador Spanish speaking mission. And I enter the MTC July 25th.
I have been asked to talk on patriotism. Now I'm not what you would consider the most patriotic person. If people didn't constantly tell me when the 4th of July was I would probably forget. I am glad I was assigned this topic because it is something I feel I could really work on.
- To keep things simple, I divided my talk into 3 main parts 1. Define what patriotism is 2. Show good examples of patriotism 3. What can I do to be more patriotic?
- First, what is patriotism? It might sound like a silly question, but I feel that patriotism is one of those words that you throw around but can’t exactly put a definition to. When I first tried to come up with a definition of patriotism, my mind went to the founding fathers and those that helped found this country. Although they are great examples of patriotism, the true meaning of patriotism is much simpler than the major events and people that we often associate patriotism with. Now, no talk is complete without a reference to Webster’s dictionary, so here you go. According to Webster’s, patriotism is defined as a love for or devotion to one's country.
- Patriotism, according to Adlai E. Stevenson is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime
- Another definition of Patriotism by Robert k. Thomas states, “The qualities that distinguish patriotism are all of the “homely” variety: respect, integrity, loyalty, self-sacrifice, consideration, fairness, appreciation, and devotion.
- Nowhere in these definitions did it say you had to have the preamble memorized, or be a war veteran to be considered patriotic. To sum up, patriotism is a state of being, a steady devotion and support to our country throughout our life. Nothing extraordinary or world changing is required.
- With these definitions in mind, let’s look at some good examples of patriotism. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of patriotism is George Washington.. The 1st United States Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year—a large sum in 1789. Washington, already wealthy, declined the salary, since he valued his image as a selfless public servant. At the urging of Congress, however, he ultimately accepted the payment, to avoid setting a precedent whereby the presidency would be perceived as limited only to independently wealthy individuals who could serve without any salary. The president, aware that everything he did set a precedent, attended carefully to the pomp and ceremony of office, making sure that the titles and trappings were suitably republican and never emulated European royal courts. To that end, he preferred the title "Mr. President" to the more majestic names suggested. Washington reluctantly served a second term. He refused to run for a third, establishing the customary policy of a maximum of two terms for a president. This to me is a perfect example of patriotism. He was content with his life and didn’t even want to become president. He declined a salary, only wanting to be a public servant. Everything he did was to be an example to the citizens and to future presidents.
- An equally good example is Captain Moroni he rallied the Nephites to defend their liberties from a group of dissenters who wanted to establish their leader as a king. Moroni was so angry with the dissenters and and their wicked influence that he rent his coat and wrote upon it, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children". With these words, he rallied his people to defend their families and their freedom, chasing the armies of Amalickiah away in the process. Any dissenters that remained, Moroni put to death, and raised up the title of liberty upon every Nephite tower. Captain Moroni had a love of his country and the people in it. He was willing to give up his life to protect his country. Captain Moroni, in my opinion, is epitome of patriotism.
- Finally, what can we do now to increase or show our patriotism? Not all of us can be like George Washington or Captain Moroni but there are many things that we can do to show our patriotism in our own community. One young LDS wife, for example, served as chairman of the city’s conservation commission until her first child was born. At that point she turned over the demanding responsibilities of the chairmanship to another commissioner. She commented recently that when her children are in school and she has a little more free time, she will again become more active in community affairs.
This is the position that all of us are in. No kids and for a lot of us, or at least me, lots of free time. There are plenty of opportunities for us to serve our country, we just have to know where to look and be willing take time to take advantage of them.
- Another major opportunity that we all have is voting. Many countries do not have this opportunity and we are lucky to have it. Though there are many, including myself, that do not take advantage of this.
- I live in a house where my dad watches the news, debates, and Glenn Beck and he tries to indoctrinate me on the evils of our current government. For which I am somewhat grateful for. But much of what I hear about politicians is negative and I have started to tune out whenever I heard the word politics. My dad jokes that he’ll vote for the worst and most scummy politicians to try and get the 2nd coming to get here faster. Although I know he’s just kidding I think a lot of people use a declining government as an excuse to not participate in the political process. Cheryll May says, Some argue that since the world is presently engaged in the last tragic scenes of a drama which (as the Lord has revealed) must inevitably end in the destruction of all the kingdoms of men, it is hopeless to try to maintain (or restore) honesty, accountability, or effectiveness to one’s political system. No matter how bad you think the government is, we still have a duty to vote. The Lord surely cannot be pleased when those of his children blessed with a democratic form of government refuse to grasp the opportunities it offers for active civic participation and allow their potential for gaining greater understanding and mastery of self-government to atrophy.
Even more simple way of showing patriotism than voting is, developing our own testimonies. What better way of becoming a patriot than by strengthening our relationship with our Heavenly Father, the one who founded this very nation. Robert K. Thomas said, “A child who has a testimony of Jesus Christ already has a good basis for becoming a patriot. If a child with only a testimony can become a patriot, then surely us young adults can become patriots through developing our testimonies and our relationship with our Heavenly Father and being a good example for those around us to follow.
In closing I would like to bear my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he translated the Book of Mormon. I know this because I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true and God told me that it was. I know the Atonement is real and that anybody can use its power. I also have a testimony of prayer and the spirit it brings and the closeness that you can have with Heavenly Father through prayer. This is my last Sunday in this ward and I've loved being here. I love the spirit that is here and I especially love the testimonies meetings. You all have such strong testimonies and I admire you for your willingness to share your testimonies. I would like to thank the elders quorum presidency and their example and also for those that teach in elders quorum. I always enjoy going to elder’s quorum and being able to feel the spirit there. I would also like to thank Wes Harward, for all the work he put into teaching mission prep. If any of you haven't been to mission prep I would recommend it, even if you aren't considering going on a mission. It really is an awesome class for anyone. Again I know this church is true with all my heart and I'm grateful to be able to serve the lord and his people in Ecuador. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.