Americans tend to pay less attention to stories of martyrdom than people from cultures with unhappier histories. Our revolutionary and religious heroes often tended to win their battles; nobody set themselves on fire to dramatize the cause of American independence. But without remembering those heroes of conviction who willingly chose death over betraying their ideals, our lives are poorer — and our grasp on our own values becomes uncertain and weak.
How many of us today would have the courage to die for our beliefs? How many of us are sure we have beliefs that are worth dying for?
The martyrs of Vietnam have a message for the rest of us: A life that isn’t connected to values more important than simple biological existence isn’t being fully lived. If you’re not in touch with something or Someone greater than you, you’re not really in touch with yourself.
A point to ponder on a dark November evening: Not everyone is called to give up their life for their beliefs, but everyone is called to have beliefs worth dying for.
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