Do I believe? And in what do I believe? We have been taught many things, but do we believe in their veracity. This morning I looked over an invitation that was given to me by one of my dearest boys. He has made Eagle Scout, a very prestigious accomplishment, and he has invited me to the ceremony and the adjoining reception. I am honored. On the invitation is the boy scout slogan. It has changed a little since I was a scout, but it struck me. I was a scout 30 years ago, and I still remember all the mottoes and slogans.

“On my honor I will do my duty to God and my country, to keep myself physically fit, mentally awake, and morally straight.” (The new one adds a qualifier “I do my best to do my duty…”, but it also adds, to help people at all times)

This slogan has been in my head for all this time…but do I really believe it? Or is it similar to the bible verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Am I just conglomeration of all my religious, value, and moral aphorisms? What do I really know, what do I really believe? What do we believe as a culture as a society. At every meet I go to the National Anthem is played. When I was a kid every morning started with the pledge of allegiance.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisable, with liberty and justice for all.”

I memorized the words when I was 6, but even as I type the words I know what the words and symbols mean, but I don’t know if I really understand what it says or agree with it. Do I believe it? In high school, I was the student body president and as such I had to call assemblies together. On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I lead the pledge of allegiance, but to everyone’s shock I ended it with, “With liberty and justice for some.” I had become aware, even then, that not all the people followed the cultural mores that we as a nation supposedly professed as true.

So, what is true? What is my slogan, what is my creed, my motto, my aphorism? The Peace Pilgrim said that while much of her walk had changed over the years, one thing had not, i.e. the main tenet of her mission:

This is the way of peace.
Overcome evil with good,
Falsehood with truth,
And hatred with love

So then, what do I believe? What have I learned to be true in this life. Or perhaps, what do I know? Alternately…what will I put my faith in?

  1. It feels better to hug than punch.
  2. Art makes me and others happy.
  3. Very kind words might be remembered, but mean ones you never forget.
  4. Anger never improves anything, and eats you up inside.
  5. Love is forgiveness, and forgiveness is love.
  6. When you forgive you feel SOOOOOOO much better!
  7. Doing the loving thing can sometimes be scary and hard, but it is always worth it in the end.
  8. When you give without begrudging it, you get a certain kind of joy that cannot be experience any other way.
  9. Valuing all people, including yourself, is difficult, some make it very hard, but everyone has worth, and all deserve love.
  10. The consequences of all our choices are unknown, but attempting to do right by others seldom fails.
  11. Violence is selfish, because it protects self; peace exposes all vulnerability but inspires compassion.
  12. Lying to others is selfish, lying to self promotes internal death.

So, how do I build a motto, slogan, creed, or aphorism out of that? Here is an attempt:

“Peace is found by giving as one is able, being compassionate toward all, and loving everyone as much as self.”

I think it will take the rest of my life to really embody that slogan. I will fail, I already have even as I write this believe it or not. But, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “Discouragement is a greater sin than all the sins that spawn it. For when one becomes discouraged, you become ineffective to change.”