This time of year brings heightened meaning to America as a country, its citizenry and the importance of its future. On July 4th, we celebrate our freedoms and count our blessings knowing that God has richly blessed our nation in unprecedented ways for 241 years! We can rest confident that the future is bright provided we hold close to the enduring qualities found through a virtuous and civil society.
Providence has smiled on our people, blessing us with opportunities to flourish. Never before have we had such a time of abundance and prosperity, educational resources, and technological advancements, or safe places to live, worship and play!
There are many contributors to all the success we’ve enjoyed as an American society, but one in particular I’d like to focus on in this message – and that is virtue…virtue is defined most often as doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong.
More than any other attribute of society, virtue was heralded by our founding fathers as the one primal ingredient that will ensure future success for our republic. Countless early American documents highlight virtue and its importance.
Though liberty cost us everything, it is worth everything. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a revolutionary-time physician and confidant of many during the American Revolution understood and proclaimed that “without virtue, there can be no liberty.”
John Witherspoon said that “So true is this, that civil liberty cannot be long preserved without virtue.” And Samuel Johnson, stated that “No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.” Importantly, Samuel Adams, cousin to our second president, John Adams, stated that “if virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.”
We can reference countless more quotes by our founders placing great emphasis on such a value system. It’s reassuring to me that in today’s world of uncertainty, that there are still bedrock principles found in scripture and applied in our nation’s formative documents that clearly direct our society and people to what is needed for greatness and for a strong America.
It is important for you to know that the YMCA holds these same principles dear and we teach them to our YMCA youth in a variety of ways and through many of our programs. One such program, “Conference on National Affairs,” CONA is convening this week in Black Mountain, at the YMCA Blue Ridge conference center celebrating its 50th year! For decades the YMCA has been working with schools and teens in civic engagement. Not just teaching about the legislative process but helping each young person understand the importance of demonstrating virtuous thought and concern about the welfare of our great nation! Facebook users can follow the conference here.
The practical lessons learned through CONA is unique and a most effective tool for teaching about democracy and helping each participant truly understand what it takes to forge a free and moral society. The Y is proud to work with schools all over the state of South Carolina to encourage young people to get involved, become stakeholders in American Government and aspire to be responsible, voting citizens in the years ahead.
The importance of this learning experience cannot be stressed enough. America needs virtuous leadership, the world needs a virtuous America and it needs hope. The YMCA of Greenville is committed to doing its part in preparing young leaders to become great leaders. The Y’s values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility stem from our Christian principles to build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. I believe in America and that it is ordained to shed the light of hope. I also believe in the mission of the Y and its ability to help instill virtue! If your child has not experienced our Youth in Government programs, please contact your nearest branch or go to our website and learn more.
Happy Independence Day and God Bless You!
Scot Baddley is President and CEO of the YMCA of Greenville