Editor’s note: Around the 4th of July a Forks Forum reader came to my office and asked if he could sponsor an essay contest in the paper, due to the fact that we weren’t able to celebrate the 4th of July he wanted to do something to inspire people to think about the birth of our country.
The contest was based on a section of George Washington’s inaugural speech, “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of Order and Right which Heaven itself hath ordained.” is taken from his Inaugural speech from April 30, 1789. Contestants were asked what did he mean and how and if it still pertains today.
For the past few weeks, a panel of three judges have read over the entries and have now made their selection adding a second-place prize as well …and the winners are ….Karen White will win $500 and Gordy Gracey $250, photos of winners next week.
First place winner $500
George Washington loved the fledgling American colonies, newly declared as a sovereign nation. He considered it his life’s greatest achievement to have assisted Americans to be freed from the domination and tyranny of the British government. His many quotes, preserved for future generations to read and learn from, establish his intense desire for ALL men and women to be free citizens. His view of enslaved men and women being endowed by their Creator to live in freedom, is summed up well by this quote: ” The unfortunate condition of the persons whose labor in part I have employed, has been the only unavoidable subject of regret.”
George Washington changed the usual type of plantation operation into one which educated and thus enabled his slaves to become farm operators/owners in their future, and for their children’s. Without this preparation, he knew that there would be great poverty and misery in simply releasing this group of people who had no job opportunities in the society. Years later, this project proved to be of great benefit to his freed slaves, as many were able to farm independently and support themselves.
In his later years, the former first President was quoted as saying this regarding his former slaves: “To make the adults among them as easy and as comfortable in their circumstances as their state would admit, and to lay a foundation to prepare the rising generation for a destiny different from that in which they were born; afforded some satisfaction to my mind, and could not I hoped be displeasing to the justice of the Creator.”
George Washington knew that, despite the entrenched systems of slavery being widely practiced and accepted by society, it was not pleasing to God. It denied the basic God-ordered right of freedom to this group of people. He did what he was able to do in his era, by word and deed, to prepare and point to a future of hope and freedom for all citizens. He knew however, and acknowledged in his many quotes, that this freedom would have to be brought about by a God-fearing society, and most importantly, the legislature. This would enshrine freedom for all by statute, not simply the aspirations of some individuals.
As the newly elected President Washington delivered his Inaugural speech in 1789, he reminded the attendees and all who would read his words, that God had greatly blessed the new nation; they knew well that they had experienced a miraculous victory over the overwhelming might of the British armies. He then warned them that if they were to seek God’s continued blessings, they as a nation must follow the “eternal rules of Order and Right which heaven had ordained.”
There were many societal flaws and evils in his day, as in every generation, many of which George Washington has been quoted as denouncing.
He condemned as evil and un-Godly the practice of cursing, drunkenness, and greed among them. His greatest concern was that the people of the nation would assume that they no longer needed God’s protection and grace, thinking they were capable of defending themselves by their own power. He sought to remind the nation that God’s hand of blessing is always contingent on the people acknowledging their faults, living righteously, and relying on God for their needs to be met.
In America today, many citizens still recognize God as our defender and provider, without whom we will never be secure in our freedoms.
Freedom comes from God: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians, 3:17). The opposite is also true. Those who abuse positions of power, or take advantage of a situation for their own selfish gain, while denying the peace and freedom of others, are best described in this Scripture verse: “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity. For people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” (2 Peter 2:19.)
Americans should return to the One who created them, and ask for His forgiveness in forgetting their need for Him and His laws, which were given to bless us as a people and nation, to walk in peace and freedom.
Second place winner $250
In George Washington’s inaugural speech 231yrs ago he began with the word “Propitious”. This word means: ‘giving or indicating a good chance of success, favorable’. He continues on: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of Order and Right which Heaven itself hath ordained.”
He then directly correlates it with “Smiles of Heaven” as denoting & referring to GODS favor for our new nation. Today those words are still a clarion call for keeping this nation favored and continuing to be a great success.
In the 231 years since our first Presidents inaugural speech we are still a powerful free nation that offers the chance of “favor” to all who venture in peace to reach their personal definition and measure of “success”, however, our nation today is in a chaotic upheaval threatening to disrupt our basic freedoms.
In contrast to 231 years ago, today’s America does not seem like a “United States”. We are divided by race, politics, religion and personal agendas.
Anymore there is social rancor and strife focused on violent special interest protests. It doesn’t have to be like that if we would once again return to sincerely following the words of our first Presidents inaugural speech. Today Heaven doesn’t seem to be smiling on us; it’s because We have asked GOD to leave so many aspects of our life; like asking Him to leave our public schools, and the current activist’s movements to remove His name from the National Anthem, not to mention wanting to remove “in GOD we TRUST” from our currency. We’ve even taken GOD out of a lot of churches for fear of offending someone!! We have removed the 10 commandments from courtrooms, we have activists wanting to remove crosses and monuments in historical places that serve as a reminder to the nation we once were. We have American citizens not wanting to stand for our anthem and wanting to defame our flag.
2 Chronicles 7:14 states: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.” I think we can all agree that our nation is in dire need of healing. I believe this is the first step toward restoring our nation and enabling us to receive the smiles of heaven.
The second step is then to endeavor to live following what Jesus states is the “greatest commandment” in Matthew chapter 22. “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
These aforementioned biblical standards would once again unite us -“one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” And that my friend would be something to smile about.
S. Gordy Gracey