Tag Archive for: independence

Independence means Responsibility

Armodoxy for Today: Independence Means Responsibility

On this day in 1776, the Thirteen Colonies of the British Empire signed the Declaration of Independence making them the thirteen United States of America. The document has been revered internationally for its eloquence in proclaiming the basic human right of self-determination. Herein is the tie with religion in general and with the Christianity in particular.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,” begins the Declaration. The document is a masterpiece which talks about self-governance, and consequently, the case for personal responsibility, because there is no one else to blame but yourself for your actions.

A child who is caught doing something wrong, passes the buck onto a friend, a sibling or perhaps even exclaiming, “The devil made me do it.” To believe in predestination means that your actions are predetermined by some higher power. The expression “written in the stars,” is commonly used and in Armenian, the word “jakatagir” is used for “fate” because it literally means “written on your forehead.” There is no escape from this fate, for it is written beforehand! And therefore, what mistakes or evil you do is not your fault. You are not accountable because you had no choice to do otherwise.

Christianity rejects fatalism. You are indeed responsible for your actions. Over and over again Jesus teaches lessons on personal accountability and responsibility. He speaks about forgiveness and repentance because these require the acceptance of responsibility for actions.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” continues the Declaration, “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…”

Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, are identified as gifts from God, and to exploit these gifts is done with the consent of the people.

Today, we celebrate freedom as a gift from God along with a reminder that these ideas were etched in the Declaration of Independence a quarter of a millennium ago and are still being pursued. The celebration of the oldest continuous democracy, the United States, is an opportunity for us contemplate the divine gift of life in all of its ramifications. Take time to read the parables of Jesus. He instructs us to live life, to enjoy the freedom granted to us by God, so that we may enjoy this life in the pursuit of happiness.

Let us pray, Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life and the freedom to choose the direction of our life. Open our eyes to the beauty of life so that we may better appreciate the wonders of freedom that are granted to us. May we be moved to action as directed by our Lord Jesus. Amen.

Liberty

Roots of Armodoxy: Liberty

Today is anniversary of Independence for the United States of America. This experiment in democratic principles of equal rights, general suffrage and government by majority is almost 250 years old. It is far from perfect, but still, the consensus is to strive for the “goal” as outlined by the constitution. The Declaration of Independence, signed on this day in 1776, claims that “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.”

These words are beautifully and thoughtfully crafted at a time when independence was only a dream for a group who had escaped the tyranny and ties of the Crown. Religion exists inside of political realities. In the Declaration of Independence can be heard cries for the rights that true religion has advocated even during oppressive circumstances.

The Armenian Church has lived within monarchies, kingdoms, dictatorships, oppressive and barbaric regimes, and even through atheistic soviet society. The Gospel Message of Christ is greater than any political ideology and must maintain its integrity despite the political climate of the age.

After enjoying only a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1920, Armenia became an Independent country in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. In the last 30+ years it has had its share of trials and tribulations, and sometimes it is tempting to be critical of system that sometimes brings with it social injustice and inequity for the masses.

Today, with the celebration of Independence Day in the United States of America, we have an opportunity to reflect on true freedom and liberty. We can appeal to history to see that at the turn of the 18th century to the 19th century, that is only 30+ years in the life of the United States, the country was far from perfect, there was slavery, there were disparities among classes of people, women were not allowed to vote, and the list goes on. It’s important to cut some slack on new countries, such as Armenia, that are going through their own growing pains.

It’s also an opportunity to reflect on us and our commitment to ideals greater than ourselves. We often talk about the Armenian Church as the oldest of Christian traditions. Yes, it does trace its roots to 2000 years ago with the person of Jesus Christ, but there is another reality, that of the Genocide. When the Turks wanted to annihilate and destroy the Armenian people they went after the Church. The Armenian Church was left in shambles after the Genocide. The reality of what we have today is thanks to what brave church leaders -both clergy and lay – have put together in the last 100 years, since the Genocide.

The greatest expression of Liberty is when we use our God-given power to create. Today is a day of committing to the ideals that we all find appealing and necessary for healthy living: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We pray for America, we pray for ourselves and we pray for our Armenian Church today. Heavenly Father, bless those who bless you. Give wisdom to leaders. Keep us vigilant in our commitment to pursue that which is necessary for our lives. And keep us focused on our commitment to work for peace on earth and good will toward one another. Amen.

 

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Cover: Three Red Apples / pickpik.com
Technical Director: Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Sponsored by Predator Cycling – specializing in custom carbon bicycles, components, accessories and repair.
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Subscribe to In His Shoes » Next Step with Fr. Vazken by Email
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!