The Bread Loaf School of English, affiliated with Middlebury College, in Vermont, offers a post-graduate summer program which, when successfully completed, leads to a master’s degree in English. A beautiful feature of the school is its barn. I clearly recall spending many hours quietly reading and sometimes playing the piano in the barn when I was a student there, in the summers of 1961 to 1964.
Often sitting in the far corner of the barn was Robert Frost, the famous poet. He frequently spoke with the students and others who were visiting. He was soft-spoken, extremely gentle, and patient when responding to the many, often inane questions, which he always treated with respect and dignity. I never heard him denigrate anyone. He quietly told us he did not like explaining or interpreting his own poetry. He did not mind reciting his poems: he referred to this as “saying his poems.”
I recall a woman once asking Mr. Frost why he never mentioned religion in his poetry, and she further asked him if he believed in Christianity. His quiet response: “I prefer to keep my beliefs to myself, but I can tell you that I think it is extremely important for people to believe in something bigger than themselves,” and he added, “If you don’t have a belief, then when you are in need, you are lost.”
I remember the woman asking him, “What do you mean by lost?” He answered, “By lost, I mean, I don’t think you know where you are.” (Perhaps he was referring to the words in the hymn “Amazing Grace”: “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”) The woman looked confused and Mr. Frost looked up at her and said: “You simply have to choose. Your heart will make the choice.”
I immediately thought about “The Road Not Taken,” one of Mr. Frost’s most famous poems. It is about choice. It occurs to me now that the most valuable thing that we have in this country is the freedom to make choices … all choices: religions, schools, politics, occupations, relationships, and opinions, and that this country is the only country in the world that offers this. Now we are embroiled in a power struggle with oppressive forces that are trying to destroy our ability to choose. These forces are frighteningly powerful and even date back to the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution, which guaranteed a balance of power, rather than oppressive, tyrannical domination, which leads to the abomination of Godless governments. We must choose between Freedom and Communism.
Our choices, which were obtained through sacrifices and loss of life by our many veterans and patriots, are being stripped from us through the use of fear, intimidation, lies, and greed. Guilt used to be assigned if we made bad choices, i.e., if we chose to do the wrong thing or a bad thing.
Now the forces of evil assign guilt for things that we have not even done or thought of doing. Today, if you were born white (over which you had or have no choice), you are guilty? There is no logic to this fear-oriented propaganda, just awesome and evil political power. If your father was a serial rapist, are you guilty? If your relatives are slave owners today, in Africa, are you guilty? (Today, there are 9.2 million slaves in Africa.) If your ancestors made a law that outlawed slavery, but one of them owned a slave, are you guilty? If you see a crime occurring in this country and try to stop it, but fail, are you guilty of the crime? If you answer yes to any of these questions, please explain why.
The concept of forgiveness is a critical component of the Judeo-Christian religion. Ironically, forgiveness is based on the need for forgiveness, if someone has done nothing wrong, then there is nothing to forgive. I am certainly not going to ask for forgiveness for something that I didn’t do, unless it is a sin of omission: “Something left undone that I ought to have done” … which I am sure has happened. The left is using the threats of physical harm to our families and us, loss of incomes, destruction of reputations, or threat of arrest and being sent to reeducation camp … they have assigned a false guilt to all “conservatives.”
For repentance to apply at all, one must be guilty. I seem to recall that falsely accusing someone of something that they did not do is considered “bearing false witness,” which I believe is not only a grave sin but also a crime. And finally, I agree that no one can make you “believe anything in your heart,” and unfortunately, as Mr. Frost so powerfully said, “If you do not believe, then when you are in need, you are lost.”
Robert S. Wilkinson