My mother and father built the house I grew up in with their own two hands. It took many years of long hours, overtime work, sacrifice and a few setbacks, but when it was finally completed it was a beautiful home with good bones. The foundation was sound. Twelve concrete steps that ran up the side of the house to the front door was poured and set by my father. My father was not one to cut corners so pouring and setting them was a painstaking task for a man who was a perfectionist. The ground had to be prepared in order to support the two and half tons of concrete that made up the steps. Looking back I know my father spent a great deal of time to get those steps right.
A few years back I notice those same concrete steps started leaning against the foundation of the house. The weight of the steps was beginning to crack the foundation. Time and years of settling was the cause. So a year ago my mother was forced to hire contactor to remove the steps and repair the foundation. It was very expensive, the price my mother had to pay to save the house. When the contractor began to break up the steps, he asked my mother who had poured the concrete. She replied, “My husband.” He looked at my mom and said, “Well he sure knew what he was doing because my men are having a hard time breaking it down. These steps were made extremely well.” My mom already knew this because like I said, my father was not one to cut corners. He did things right, even if it cost a little more money. The contractor started walking away when he stopped and turned back towards my mother and said, “That’s the thing about time, it eventually erodes things away no matter how well you build it.”
Time is indeed a quiet destroyer. It can creep up and destroy anything no matter how well it’s built or crafted. Looking back I often wonder if there was anything we could have done to save the steps and prevent it them from cracking the foundation. My guess is no, because we didn’t even see it coming. No matter how well my father made those steps he couldn’t foresee how time would use the sheer weight of those steps against the foundation. The only way we could have seen it coming was to constantly monitor the position of the steps in its relationship to the house and that’s just not realistic. The roots of a tree can tear up a concrete driveway over time. Seasonal changes in temperature cause the expansion and contraction of the ground, and overtime this will break down a paved road. Water can erode and soften the ground, causing settling and sinking. All these things happen quietly over time.
When I think of the destructive qualities of time, I think how it applies to just about anything. Let’s look at our own nation and the principles that it was built upon. It was a hot summer in 1787. Delegates from the colonies met in Philadelphia to amend the Articles of Confederation, however it ended with them presenting to the people one of the most remarkable documents ever produced; our constitution. People were excited and fearful of it. Some thought it was a document that would not only create a strong union of states, but also preserve it for generations to come. Others believed that although the intentions of the delegates were noble, over time the meaning of the document would be lost opening the door for tyrants to gain control. And that’s exactly what has happened, quietly over time.
Time has indeed eroded away the original intent and meaning of the constitution. The truth we have somehow forgotten is power should and must reside with the people. This doesn’t mean the power to go to the polls every two years and vote some candidate into office who ultimately will disappoint you. It’s something much more profound than exercising your right to vote. It’s the power and capacity of self-governance; the power to live life with liberty in pursuit of happiness without fear of a federal government trying to restrict liberty and impose its will on the individual. The founders carefully crafted the constitution to limit the ability of the federal government to do just that and over time this cornerstone principle has eroded away. There are number reasons why this has happened, but the main reason is because we underestimated the destructive power that time has over a society. How it can erode a belief system, culture, and the institutions that made it great. America is not the first nation to be a victim of time.
All great nations have suffered the same fate. Over time moral values decay, people forget their history, the family unit falls apart, and the institutions that were once viewed as rock solid are questioned by its citizens. It only took about 50 years for Roman citizens to transform from a spiritual based, family centered society that believed in the institutions of the republic to a morally bankrupt mob who lusted for blood of the gladiators games. It led not only losing their republic but also to their slavery and eventual demise. This pattern has repeated itself throughout history and now it’s our turn in the lineup.
Time is indeed a quiet destroyer. The question is will we be able to slow and reverse its destructive nature on our republic? Will we be willing to pay the price no matter what the cost to repair our foundation and save our house? I can only hope.
Liberty forever, freedom for all!