God, Country, Family?


You might ask whether this post is an express statement of political conservatism.  Definitely maybe.  But this post is fundamentally about our relationships and our duties to each other, the essence of (democratic) politics.

Last week a good friend and I were discussing raising children.  On helping them come to terms with their relationship to the world, he said, “what is it, God, family, country?” Me: “I’ve always understood it as God, country, family.”   In the movie American Sniper, Chris Kyle responds with this formulation to the question of whether he actually read the Christian bible.  My friend and Chris Kyle are correct: we have a supreme moral duty that directs and informs other duties below it.  In whatever order, country and family are neck and neck.

This ancient formulation is familiar to and ingrained in many military personnel.  Seemingly simple, it is not: God commands one’s allegiance and one is inherently in relationship with and in community with country and family.  In the book on which the movie is based, Chris Kyle wondered out loud whether family or country should be second, and he suggested the allegiances might be in flux depending on the moment.  It’s an informed and nuanced comment.*

But one thing is for sure: we are all in this together and we have a duty to help and protect one another.  In my faith, the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and soul, and mind. The second greatest is love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:38).  Thus, love of God has a correlative duty: you are bound to your neighbor, e.g., family and country, because God said so.  “Family” and “country” symbolize the need for these relationships that seem lost on many, and the failure to vaccinate is an embodiment of that loss.

To state that a parent’s choice not to vaccinate children only affects that family is nonsense.  It’s just a fact that we carry a ton of germs that can infect others.  This is undeniable, and if you don’t believe it, look at my prior post on pertussis for an example: humans are the only carriers of the pertussis bacterium. This fact, coupled with the moral imperative to protect those around us – we are our brother’s keeper – compels us to protect our family’s children and the country’s as well.  To do otherwise is heresy to the ancient formula.  It is pure selfishness, a childish trait.

I realize that many who read this blog may find it difficult to relate to my worldview, particularly the God part.  But if you have a better moral framework to address relationships, please bring it on.  Peace be with you.


*For the record, I think American Sniper was unfairly snubbed at the Oscars – it is a testimony to the flux I am speaking of here, and a monumental, brilliant, moving, apolitical film.
**That is a fantasy that even this idiot doctor (who should be suspended from practicing medicine) thinks is true.

About patlowder

I'm a chemist, patent attorney, husband of one wife, dad of two sons, and I am (a progressive, whatever that label implies) Christian. I have had a rich, varied life and I give thanks for it. Just to be clear, this blog reflects personal views and is not intended as an advertisement for legal services, or should be considered a "law blog." You should not take anything I say to be a legal opinion on any topic and you don't create an attorney-client relationship by reading it. That requires an executed written contract.
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