It has been nine years since the World Trade Towers collapsed in flames. The smoke still looms, casting its shadow in our memory and clouding our future. The constant threat of terrorism has not gone away. Nine years later, however, it is increasingly clear that terrorism is not the number one enemy to a future for our families. Afghanistan and Mexico bear witness to this fact.
In Afghanistan, our soldiers have performed admirably, meeting most of their military goals. The path to victory remains blocked not by terrorism but by corruption. A recent article in Foreign Policy Magazine stated, “…corruption and mismanagement at all levels of Afghanistan's government is the single largest obstacle to achieving an orderly transition to Afghan control and convincing local citizens to reject the Taliban.”
Mexico teaches the same lesson. In a region arguably as rich in natural resources as the United States, corruption keeps Mexico captive to poverty. An editorial in the Dallas Morning News recently stated, “The drug cartel battles that have turned the border area into a war zone are just one example of the power criminal enterprises can obtain when bribery and collusion are allowed to penetrate all levels of the police, government, business and state-owned enterprises.”
The history of the United States is unique because of the moral values that have protected her from crippling corruption. Few gave our fledgling nation any hope of survival when it was formed. Fifty years after the American Revolution our new nation was not only surviving but thriving. The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville toured the United States in search of the secret to our democratic success. In 1831 he concluded, “The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other. … Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”
The secret to our future is the same. Each generation must embrace the kind of faith that establishes honesty and integrity in commerce at every level. We may feel there is little we can do individually to counteract terrorism. But we can secure our future and that of our children every day by the choices we make. Every time we choose truth, justice, fairness, and honesty, we choose our children’s future. Every act of kindness, generosity and charity prepares a people to experience God’s blessings. The path to the future is always the path of repentance and faith.
When John introduced Jesus he clarified what repentance meant: “And the crowds were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?" And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to." Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages." Luke 3:10-14).