Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Time For Overhauling Our Ship of State

A ship’s most important component is its keel. It is the structural member to which all the other parts of the ship are directly or indirectly attached.

When a ship has a broken keel, it is said to have “broken its back” and salvage companies declare it to be a total loss. Only a total overhaul can then rebuild the ship, which must be done literally from the ground up.

Our ship of state was built with such a well-designed and well-built keel that she has sailed longer, straighter and truer than any other ship of state ever built.

Our keel is the Declaration of Independence. All of the other parts of our national structure and existence flow from it, and specifically from the first phrases of its second paragraph:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”[1]
A ship’s keel won’t break except under severe structural stress such as by being run aground, or in the case of Captain Ahab’s longboat, being struck by the monster white whale, Moby Dick. [2]

Undeterred by cares for his crew or his ship, Ahab simply had the ship’s carpenter carve a new wooden leg for him out of his longboat’s broken keel and continued on the obsessive chase that ended only with his own death.[3]

We need to seriously ask ourselves whether we have allowed our ship of state to be run aground or smashed by a force of fabled proportions, and whether we, like Capt. Ahab, are simply using its broken pieces to hobble toward our eventual destruction.

Do we still believe that the “truths” in our Declaration to be so obvious that they are self-evident? If God’s existence is so obvious it needs no other evidence, why do we shape our public policy as though there is no provable evidence of His existence?

We appear to have also ceased to believe that all men are created equal. No longer do we ask to be judged solely by the content of our character and to be allowed to rise or fall on our own merits.

Look further down the length of our keel – if we believe that the entire purpose of government is to secure the self-evident rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, then why do we constantly legislate against life? Why do we increasingly indenture ourselves and our children with each subsequent piece of expensive legislation?

Ahab refused to listen to the good advice of his first mate, Starbuck, who cried out to the obsessed captain: “In Jesus' name no more of this, that's worse than devil's madness. Two days chased; twice stove to splinters; thy very leg once more snatched from under thee; thy evil shadow gone - all good angels mobbing thee with warnings: - what more wouldst thou have?”[4]

Rather than ignore the clear warnings we’ve been given and perversely maintain a course toward our own destruction, there is yet time for us to return to the safe harbor established by our Declaration and begin, with integrity, the steady and sure process of rebuilding our ship from the ground up.

[1] “The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription”, The National Archives, http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html
[2] Melville, Herman Moby Dick Or the Whale, p.474, Kessinger Publishing, 2004
[3] Melville, Herman Moby Dick Or the Whale, p.474, Kessinger Publishing, 2004
[4] Melville, Herman Moby Dick Or the Whale, “Chapter cxxxiv - THE CHASE - SECOND DAY” p. 553,