We live in one of the most unsettled and controversial times in the history of the United States. There is no question. There is no debate.
We’ve lost principles and ideals, common courtesy, respect. We treat our fellow man with contempt and encourage division over unity. We embrace discord, we spout fear, we exist in constant distrust. Our American traditions that have lasted for generations are being threatened by political correctness and the foundations of our founder’s values are crumbling.
As Americans, we look around and wonder, “What is becoming of our great country?”
When the attack comes from the outside, it seems easier to understand the hatred.
Germany and Japan in World War II, Russia and Communism throughout the Cold War, 9/11 and radical Islamism. Isis, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda. All perfect examples of external enemies that hate our belief in freedom, liberty, democracy. They despise our countries’ origins and the founders who believed in Judeo/Christian principles.
It is easy to understand violence inflicted on Americans from the outside, but what is even more dangerous is the current state of hatred radiating from within our own walls among America’s own citizens.
How do we make sense of the division we see every day against our fellow Americans?
Politically, racially, religiously, we see anger and lashing out to an extreme we haven’t seen historically. We see the rise of identity politics, economic class warfare, religious persecution, assaults on free speech, violence against others with opposing viewpoints, lack of civility in public discourse, and no edification of self-restraint or personal responsibility.
Just to name a few.
As a nation, free speech and tolerance are only allowable if opposing views cave to our own personal ideology. In other words, tolerance only applies to those who agree with us. If one group cannot win an argument in public debate, the response is to defame and disparage the opponent. We call them names like “racist”, “homophobe”, “sexist”, “bigot”, etc. Instead of being conversation "starters”, these horrible labels always end up as conversation “enders."
Social media doesn’t help. It’s become a medium of defamation. It is a way to belittle and bully an opposing view. It lacks courage and there’s no honor in it.
So how has “the shining light on a hill”, as Ronald Reagan called America, become a place of such aggressive disunity?
To understand how we got here, we first must recall how America began. The principle of self-government created by our Founding Fathers is extremely unique.
In 1787 there was not a single country whose government was built upon the principle of “We The People.” Americans formed a democracy. The people ruled. Not a monarch.
Not a tyrant. Not a theocracy.
Our country was very fragile. Within just a few short years, after winning independence, the 13 colonies were falling apart and a constitution was needed to clearly define how our young country would be governed.
So what is American freedom? There was no “master of the people” like a king or military leader who came to power through violence. TOTAL freedom with no law is anarchy. We needed “ordered freedom.”
We chose to be masters of ourselves. Because of this choice, we now elect leaders to represent us. If we don’t like our representatives, we do not kill them; we replace them with a vote. We then entrust these leaders with the ability to form laws based on the restraints of government found in our Constitution.
But let’s take it even further.
In order to properly define the American version of freedom, we MUST include one originating element. Our freedom and liberty do NOT come from man or government.
It comes from the one true God
“We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights...”
If our rights and freedoms came from man, then anyone with a heavy hand could change our laws or government at any time.
In order for self-government to exist, there must be responsibilities of the citizens that guide our actions and how we treat one another.
The characteristics of a free people who choose to govern themselves MUST include the following:
- Personal responsibility - Virtues - Morals
Virtue requires faith and faith requires freedom.
When society refuses to promote the importance of virtue and morality, then the alternative is greater crime, violence, hatred, division, disrespect, and all other vices that come from our own selfish interests.
If we reject virtue, morality, and faith then we do so at our own peril. We risk becoming Americans in name only. Less personal responsibility creates a need for greater government control. It is all cyclical. We need a new master to keep us from killing one another. When we reject God as our master in government, then we can no longer trust ourselves to protect each other. The result is an eventual decay of self-government and a rise to a large, controlling bureaucratic democracy of less individual freedom.
A free society needs guidelines to create boundaries for behavior. They can be rules or laws, but no amount of law can ever be enough to preserve a free democratic society. It’s not enough. There must be standards of moral and virtuous conduct in order to guide our behavior. These are always based on Biblical values. Ben Franklin said it best,
“Only virtuous people are capable of freedom.”
From the book “Democracy In America,” written by French diplomat, Alexis De Tocqueville nearly 50 years after the American Revolution,
“America is great because America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
Is America ceasing to be good today? Look to her people. Are they moral, virtuous, and full of faith? There lies our answer.
Our founders believed strongly that our liberty and our culture was firmly rooted in a virtuous, moral, and faith-filled people. John Adams once stated,
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”
For the founders, the idea of virtue and morality divorced from religion and faith was unthinkable! Tocqueville put it this way,
“There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America."
There is an authority, but it stems from a voluntary or free obedience to God. Not the forced obedience to man, let alone the government of man.
So the question is, can America survive with the trajectory it’s on today?
Our future as a people and a nation rests in 2 ideologies:
More laws, control, surveillance, protection OR More freedom and liberty
John Adams once said,
“The constitution was written for our form of self-government; therefore, our system of self-government is impossible to survive without virtue and morality.”
For the people to thrive in a system of self-government, then a sense of virtue and morality is absolutely necessary.
Virtue is associated with high moral standards.
Where do those standards come from? Biblical values, the “Golden Rule”, and considering the value of another human being, created by God, regardless of race, color, creed, or economic class.
Man’s fear and hate is all rooted in evil and sin. Man’s struggle with himself and other men is still manifesting in the violence and division we see in America today. But God loved man so much that He sent Jesus to die for our sins and give us new life. When we receive that new life, then we also receive a new spirit. Our new spirit operates under the law of love. We can no longer hate or brutalize another man because our conscience won’t allow it.
Freedom and liberty will survive if a virtuous and moral people are compelled to do the right thing. It is our religious beliefs that compels us to love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no gun law that would’ve been able to stop evil, cowardly criminals from terrible massacres like in Orlando, Las Vegas, or even this week in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The public outcry against guns will be ineffective. Evil people will always find a way to harm the innocent, no matter the restraint. However, our conscience and our character compel us to do the right thing, to shun sin, and to resist doing harm to our fellow man.
A free society doesn’t eliminate evil, but a free people can recognize that hate, division, and violence can be restrained by love, virtue, morality, and faith.
The idea of self-government requires a virtuous people who applaud personal responsibility, civility, kindness, and respect for another person. That is how “We The People” can keep what our founders fought for. That is how America remains the shining light on a hill and a beacon of hope for mankind.
THAT is how America survives.
Posted in The Liberty Dispatch Blog By erencevoile