Editor’s note: The author is a former Marine Raider and Scout Sniper. He wrote this in support of his MARSOC brothers who have been wrongfully charged with manslaughter. Please read and support their cause.
“Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream”
–MLK Jr Quoting Amos
Please bear with me a moment as I share some background.
My Father is a passionate man. To be completely candid I don’t deserve to have Him as dad. Despite all my brokenness, failures, and shortcomings He has always loved me. Disciplined me, yes, but now with my own age and the wisdom that comes with the gift of graying hair, I realize that the discipline I once despised was the love that at times I most needed. This love was costly to him, and the kind that would not let an errant son run wild without first sharing instructions on the paths of true life, so that when I was lost I would always know the way back to my real home. These lessons guide me to this day on these oftentimes foreign paths I find myself on.
Of all the virtues he is passionate about I will choose 3 specifically that I believe are overarching for all others, these 3 run congruently throughout and I would argue you can’t righteously have any other fruit of goodness without these 3 rightly balanced within. Then I will shallowly expound on how they are integral to this ride.
#1) Justice – As frail beings, we have a tendency to deal in extremes. “This great matter is of supreme importance but these day to day matters are trivial in comparison.” But where is true justice if it is not concerned with the daily minutiae in life, such as the ways we treat our neighbor, the words we use towards others, or our actions when we are alone and un-witnessed? Can we truly care about justice, the plight of the poor, the enslaved, the trafficked, if we are not at first willing to confront the evils in our own hearts? I once again would argue no. This ride is not just about the injustice to these 3 warriors and their families, but our own culpability in not doing the daily justice in our own homes and communities. When we fail to stand for justice, and take no responsibility or have no rage for injustice, we lay the foundation for enslavement. Who will stand?
#2) Mercy – A keen sense of justice is dangerous without a clear love of mercy, otherwise, we risk the temptation to become avengers and righters of all that is wrong. The basis of mercy is forgiveness. The realization that we are all human and make daily mistakes that indebt us to each other in fear and failure and that without forgiveness we are bound eternally in that sphere. Everyone, at some point in their life, has experienced or been offered mercy. Mercy has compassion and empathy for those that cannot make their own way. Mercy has an eye for those who would be taken advantage of. Mercy forgives its enemies because it understands that we all need forgiveness to grow.
#3) Humility – Our culture has a way of counterfeiting what is true and desirable. We laud that which mimics the real. Beauty is celebrated and age is scorned. But if we all stopped for one moment, set aside the things we use to define us, be it a car, a career, a hobby, etc and took a deep hard look at our soul and our character I reckon we would see the hand of countless others woven throughout our lives who have sacrificed, given, come to our aid, encouraged us… The statement is true that no one is self-made. To walk in humility means to realize the need. To cherish others as each one is unique and important to our own life stories, that I am not the leading role in the world. Right now there are career officers, politicians, who have been put in positions of power not to serve themselves but to serve their men and women in uniform. An effective leader is humble and a true leader does not serve themselves but serves (sacrifices for) those they have been placed to lead. And once again this starts in our very own arenas. Am I daily seeking to serve those who have been placed in my path, my sphere of leadership? Am I willing to admit when I am wrong and admit my need for others? Am I willing to acknowledge all the men and women that have sacrificed for me to be where I am at today? Humility kills entitlement and breeds gratitude. And a lot of times humility is learned through discipline and trial. It’s a precious jewel of a virtue that should adorn any true leader’s wardrobe.
So there they are, those are 3 things my Father taught me to be passionate about, and that are some of the underlying bricks in the foundation driving the purpose of this ride. I’m not foolish enough to think I have the power in myself to take on the world and the evils and injustices in it and win. But I know my Father was onto something larger than it all when he taught me these 3 things. And I know that as we allow these 3; Justice, Mercy, and Humility to take root in our hearts, our families, our nation, and our worlds, that we will march to victory together.
So stand, resist, who knows, maybe you have been called for such a time as this? I know I have and I believe you have been too.
“All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”
–Attributed to Edmund Burke
Originally written by Aaron Vanderbeck for United American Patriots.