Vol.XIII No.IV Pg.6
June 1976

Vote With Your Life

Robert F. Turner

Plutarch was a Greek writer (46 to 125 A.D.) whose biographies of Greek and Roman greats were meant to spur men to develop more noble character. In his life of Numa Pompilius he comments at length on an unusual period of 43 years of peace in Rome, and offers an analysis of the reasons for such a period.


The love of virtue and justice flowed from Numas wisdom as from a fountain, and the serenity of his spirit diffused itself, like a calm, on all sides; so that the hyperboles of poets were flat and tame to express what then existed; as that

Over the iron shield

The spiders hang their threads..

For during the whole reign of Numa, there was neither war, nor sedition, nor innovations in the state, nor any envy or ill-will to his person, nor plot or conspiracy from views of ambition. Either fear of the gods that were thought to watch over him, or reverence for his virtue, or divine felicity of fortune that in his days preserved human innocence, made his reign, by whatever means, a living example and verification of that saying which Plato, long afterwards, ventured to pronounce, that the sole and only hope of respite or remedy for human evils was in some happy conjunction of events which should unite in a single person the power of a king and the wisdom of a philosopher, so as to elevate virtue to control and mastery over vice. The wise man is blessed in himself, and blessed also are the auditors who can hear and receive those words which flow from his mouth; and perhaps, too, there is no need of compulsion or menaces to affect the multitude, for the mere sight itself of a shining and conspicuous example of virtue in the life of their prince will bring them spontaneously to virtue, and to a conformity with that blameless and blessed life of goodwill and mutual concord, supported by temperance and justice, which is the highest benefit that human means can confer; and he is the truest ruler who can best introduce it into the hearts and practice of his subjects. It is the praise of Numa that no one seems ever to have discerned this so clearly as he.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who studied America thoroughly in the 1830s, wrote a book about his experiences. He heard, in early America, pulpits aflame for righteousness and he said, America is great because America is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. (From Classic Lines.)

Dr. Arnold Toynbee, historian of the rise and fall of civilizations, named the morality gap as one of the most crucial issues of our time.

It is not our purpose to seek, directly, the salvation of this nation. Christianity is a leavening influence which works from the individual out, and our work is to save ourselves, and as many others as will come to Christ, with reference to eternity. But wise men know, Righteousness exalteth a nation — not politics.