War: A Military Family
Every nation has a birth and a destiny, a mission to fulfill in the evolution of humanity. America, whose collective voice would become a paean to personal freedom, began to define and expand its borders while still a colony of Great Britain. The French and Indian War of 1754 expanded the colony to the Mississippi River. The United States emerged out of the conflict, pain and sacrifice of the Revolutionary War. Further expansion occurred through the Northwest Ordinance of 1803, the acquisition of Florida and New Orleans in the War of 1812, and the acquisition of Texas in 1836. In 1845 John O'Sullivan wrote "It is our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us." The United States declared war on Mexico in 1846 and the western states were acquired, the last being Arizona through the Gadsden Purchase. When the Civil War ended the United States had again freed itself from shackles of the past.
Along the rocky road in this great experiment of liberty the population greatly increased and the social order began to refine the definitions and deeds of freedom and service. The citizens must devote a certain portion of their lives to serving the nation and community, to assuming the mantle of a national rather than a personal role. Only in light of continuing service to nation and community can there be any experience of freedom. Freedom can be defined as the time and means for individual expression and contribution. As in so many other areas of life there is the necessity to consciously balance two extremes or poles, in this case service and freedom. Can there be any viable experience of one without the other?
If Providence has allowed for liberty, and not only in the United States but increasingly in other nations, what then would be the next step in human evolvement? What is to emerge from this pole, this sphere of freedom? At the beginning of the twenty-first century it seems easier to list what ought not to emerge. The next step is certainly the quest for higher forms of individual attainment in the work of the redemption of humanity and Earth from past conditions of darkness, conflict and war.
Briefly, national, state and community service can be broadly defined as including government and law, defense and the military, agriculture, medicine, support of family and basic education, and all forms of employment that genuinely benefit society. Freedom can be defined as including the arts and sciences, leisure and avocational activities, and religion and spirituality. When activities of freedom become means of financial support they can enter areas of deep shadow in which they are neither beneficial nor truly free. They may even be harmful, as is often the case in the entertainment and publishing industries. Excessive freedom in such service occupations as housing and clothing has led to luxury homes and the fashion industry as well as to inflation, the indicator of imbalance in give and take.
The family introduced in War: A Military Family is that of the author (Martha, who uses the pen name Jan Forbes), and the book might be described as a kind of objectified account of self and family, but not without personal remembrances. The personal qualities are after all what family life is all about and what the family protects and holds sacred.