In the musical 1776 there’s a scene in the second act where John Adams, who has been leading the cause for independence in the Continental Congress, is feeling totally dejected—that all is lost. His wife Abigail appears, and they have this conversation:
J: Oh, Abigail, what am I going to do?
A: Do, John?
J: You must tell me what it is. I’ve always been dissatisfied, I know that. But lately I find I reek of discontentment. It fills my throat and floods my brain, and sometimes—sometimes— I fear there is no longer a dream, but only the discontentment.
A: Oh, John, can you really know so little about yourself, and can you think so little of me that you’d believe I married the man you describe. Have you forgotten what you used to say to me? I haven’t. ‘Commitment, Abbey, commitment’. There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth, those with a commitment, and those who require the commitment of others. Do you remember, John?
J: I remember.
The authors, Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards, did a lot of research when writing this play. Much of the dialogue between John and Abigail was taken from their letters to one another during the months leading to the signing of the Declaration of independence.
What Abigail says to her husband is something that is important as we remember the birth of our nation. The phrase “creature of value” really refers to —a person who lives by values that matter—values that transcend a person’s personal beliefs or emotions. And the values that we live by require a commitment from us, and must have an effect on the way we live our lives.
Our country is very divided right now, and it seems that we are not as willing to reach out to dialogue with one another. We draw lines in the sand and want to push away anything that doesn’t fit my way of thinking.
As disciples of Christ we must renew our commitment to our faith—to living out the teachings of Jesus Christ—and the values Our Savior taught us—each day of our life. And we must renew our commitment to who we are as a nation despite our weaknesses and flaws. What does St. Paul write? “For power is made perfect in weakness.” Our weaknesses become opportunities for us to be healed and strengthened in our relationship with Jesus, and our weaknesses as a nation can be an opportunity for us to work together so that we can begin to move toward healing and unity. But to label one another and shame one another is not the way of Christ nor is it the way to bring peace into our world.
Look at what happened to Christ when he returned to his native place. The people there thought “Who does he think he is?” And they shut down any possibility for growth or transformation— “So he was unable to perform any mighty deed there ….He was amazed at their lack of faith”.
So, as we remember the event of 1776, we ask the Lord to help us renew ourselves as “creatures of value”—persons who live by values that last and transcend the confusion and distractions of the current day.