I was on vacation with my family in Virginia when I saw them sitting on the third shelf from the bottom all in a row. The worn leather spines whispered their age to me. Their years of service to some curious soul was obvious in the worn pages nested inside the weathered covers. I picked one of them up. It was the one that interested me most from the volumes of “The South in the Building of the Nation.” It was entitled, “History of Southern Oratory.” There’s something different about reading the great speeches of American history from a book that looked and felt that raw.
It made me hear things differently.
I snagged my find and boxed them up in the trunk of Julie’s van excited to snuggle up by the fireplace of the little cabin we rented and crack open my treasures. I turned to Patrick Henry and his “Call to Arms” and something rose up in me as I read. I got hungry for something worth dying for. I began to think about RESOLVE and ACTION.
RESOLVE – to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine to do something
Below are eight thing I learned about resolve and action from Patrick Henry’s “Call to Arms” as I sat by that fireplace that cold Virginia night.
“This is not time for ceremony.”
Eudora Welty from my neighboring state of Mississippi said, “All serious daring starts from within.” Patrick Henry may turn that around and say that all things that start from within require serious daring. I would probably agree with both of those statements.
“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.”
Integrity is being on the outside what you believe to be on the inside. Our words should always match our thoughts and beliefs. If those are not worth standing up for, we might as well throw them out with last week’s leftovers.
“I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”
We cannot know how to get where we’re going unless we know where we’re starting. Sometimes that requires the courage to face some ugly realities in order to transform them into freedom.
“I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.”
Some things never change and some things never change until we engage and confront past behaviors or circumstances. I think it was Einstein (or Mark Twain or Ben Franklin) who said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
“Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on… there is now no longer any room for hope.”
Step back and look at the big picture. Consider all options. Slow Down! Getting results may not be as difficult as you think. Try everything you can before executing the extreme.
“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of these means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this well when he was fighting for the neglected, the poor, the underdog. He encouraged his people to take the first step in faith. He said that you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. That’s good advice when you are resolved in our heart toward an action.
“There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and Who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”
Somehow it always seems like the right person is there at just the right time. Don’t be afraid to lean on them. We all need help!
“The war is inevitable and let it come! I repeat, sir, let it come.”
One of my favorite John Wayne quotes is “courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” It’s scary, but it is how we get things done that have never been done before.
And of course there’s that final resolve where those most important issues become life or death! The point when you are so confident that you are fighting for right that you stand up and take action whatever the cost.
“I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Courage and resolve jumped right out of the pages of that old book and into my heart that freezing cold weekend in Virginia. Take a few minutes and read the entire speech here. Those in your circle will be glad you did!