A Nation That Must Be United
SPECIAL TO THE CALDWELL JOURNAL (By Daniel B. Rundquist)…This month we observe our national Independence Day on the fourth of July. It is our 242nd such celebration. I like to believe in a grand, romantic notion that America was founded in unity but that would be little more than a pleasant fiction. The reality of the historical record simply does not support that idea, and in fact proves the opposite was true. America ended its union with England as a result of both the actions and inaction’s of the crown that were injurious to the colonists. The Declaration of Independence provides a list of injuries which is then summed up in this manner:
“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” (1)
The true revolutionaries in America who subscribed to this rebellious line of action might have been considered the minority early on. There were the many Tories who lived in the colonies and were fiercely loyal to the crown of England. These men were in control of many of the institutions of the colonies. The people of the colonies were politically divided from the start, either by fear, loyalty, or hope as a catalyst.
Later, when it was time for the Constitution of the United States to be ratified, there were unnerving divisions played out in debates on every point. Federalist and anti-federalist factions sparred over so many details. So distrustful were they of each other that both parties kept separate recorded minutes of the meetings and events.
Divisions in early America were so awful that Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr descended to dueling which resulted in Hamilton’s death in 1804. Even Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were bitter rivals for a very long time until late in life.
The total lack of unity in America today, however, did not occur by mere accident or some natural cultural process. American politicians and their accomplices have orchestrated and executed a careful and deliberate plan to divide Americans and place us at odds with each other. A divided populace is easier to control and pander to than a united one that seeks a common justice and accountability from its own government. A divided America is a defeated America.
In the 1830’s French aristocrat, diplomat, political scientist, and historian Alexis de Tocqueville became exasperated by the problems he saw in America and the world at the time. Although written nearly two hundred years ago, the same issues surrounding his observations of the time are still in the newspaper headlines of today. He wrote, “Without common ideas, there is no common action, and without common action men still exist, but a social body does not. Thus, in order that there be society, and all the more, that this society prosper, it is necessary that all the minds of the citizens always be brought together and held together by some principle ideas.” (2)
“Has every other century been like this one? Has man always confronted, as he does today, a world in which nothing makes sense? In which virtue is without genius and genius without honor? In which the love of order is indistinguishable from the lust of tyrants? In which the sacred cult of liberty is confounded with contempt for the law? In which conscience casts but an ambiguous light on the actions of men? In which nothing any longer seems forbidden or allowed, honest or shameful, true or false? Am I to believe that the Creator made man only to allow him to flounder endlessly in a sea of intellectual misery? I do not think so.” (3)
As Americans, we must consider that the path back to our success must begin with the restoration of virtue and unity. These two things transcend modern political idealism. In the American culture whose original role in society was it to maintain the constructs of virtue and unity among the people? What happened to it, and how might we get it back?
Government cannot legislate either virtue or unity—try as they might. This is the folly of American politics today. Here, the government is a representative republic—reflective of the values of the people who elect those who are supposed to do the work of government. They can make all the laws they want—but the actions (or restraint) associated with virtue originate from within a person, not from fear of breaking a law. If it were laws alone that were responsible for creating and maintaining virtue, then the jails would be empty.
Do laws make Americans virtuous? We might as well ask if red lights stop cars. No. Responsible drivers who apply the brakes stop cars. We have many laws prohibiting murder, theft, and so on—and yet these crimes and so many more are committed every day. Laws are merely the guardrails of society but laws do not create virtue; instead, it is the virtue of the people and by extension, their legislative body that creates just laws.
On the other hand, overreaching “antidiscrimination” laws, for example, tend to have the opposite effect of their stated purpose. They cause even more animosity, more division (read disunity), and can result in reverse discrimination cases. Government is not the source of virtue and unity and when they attempt to assume that role, cultural failure is all but certain.
So, what happened to unity and virtue? Here’s a grand, tin-foil hat theory for consideration; American has been put into a forced economic and cultural decline for the past sixty years, orchestrated by the oligarchs of the political class. They use inflation and trade agreements (such as NAFTA) to undermine the American citizen’s ability and potential to create inter-generational wealth. This in turn, forces a slow but absolute process of decline which forces a growing number of otherwise productive citizens into inter-generational poverty. The poverty naturally causes the poor to seek answers and look for hope, and there is government—ready to answer with handouts. Never enough money to quite get out of poverty, but enough to live comfortably (relative to the poor in the rest of the world.) This causes dependence on government and centralizes power to the political class—their true aim all along.
Americans are left to wonder what happened to the American Dream. While American politicians are perpetually promising that they are the source of some far-off future prosperity in order to garner votes, the citizens are left to shift for themselves as best they can in an ever-declining socialist state complete with uncontrollable public debt and planned monetary inflation eating away at the value of their money. They look for hope. They search for meaning. They look to the church but find little to hold on to and perhaps not much meaning at all. They may turn to drugs and alcohol to soothe them in their struggle. With it comes to substance abuse and addiction—where again, government sets itself up as the solution with programs and penal incarceration. This, my dear reader, is the new American Dream of the political class—an America that is jobless, penniless, and hopeless without their “help.”
America has long been considered a Christian nation as many of the founding documents are based on Christian ideals. Because that is so, then it would stand to reason that the charge for the maintenance of its two key founding principles, unity and virtue in our culture should rest with American Christian churches. What we have witnessed in the latter half of the 20th century is largely the abdication of this responsibility by the church and a subsequent falling away of church followers. This falling away is reflected in the devolution of the American culture, in our style of dress, our food, our music, our media, our attitudes, our values, and our relationships.
The late Evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, however, had his own opinions on the matter:
“The Christian faith has become a cheap faith because we too often live as if it has no value. We complain when the preacher runs over a few minutes on the Sunday sermon and consider it a great inconvenience to return to services once or twice more in the same week. No wonder so much of the world does not consider our faith relevant when we are not even willing to give of our time, much less our freedom or lives, for what we say we believe in.” (4)
So much of American Christianity today has been forced to evolve to the point where God Himself is often rationalized and marginalized so as not to interfere with—or worse support—what is politically correct, popular, or just plain offensive. Those who prefer sin and don’t want to adhere to God’s laws and want to be condoned by those who do, seek to create a moral equivalency—making others accept, support, and even celebrate their questionable life choices within Christianity—however they choose to twist a particular doctrine to meet their own standards instead of changing their lives to meet God’s standards. This, I suspect, is why so many today find church as meaningless. If the standard is no longer rock solid, then what is the point?
I would argue that American organized religion has catastrophically failed to maintain education on virtue in the United States. This is an inarguable fact based on the data we see year after year on the subject of religion. Many of the modern denominations do not see this as their mission any longer. Teaching virtue and unity is not exciting, does not attract new members and their money, actually repels folks who enjoy their sinful ways, and therefore is a losing proposition.
There are today so many things America must do to restore our culture, and we cannot be certain that Americans are even up to the task. Consider that in a recent LendEDU survey of 1,238 employed Americans, it was discovered that 35% of respondents would permanently trade their right to vote in all elections for a mere 10% immediate raise in wage. 113 people in that same group indicated that they “would give up their child’s or future child’s right to vote in all elections for life” to get the 10% raise. (5) This is a pathetic state of affairs.
In today’s America, we struggle with even the more basic issues such as the very concept of what is right and what is wrong. In a 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study, 64% of the respondents thought that “right or wrong depends on the situation.” (6) This trend was seen across many religious groups.
What’s even worse is that the youngest generation has no moral compass. Only 15% of the respondents in the same study aged 18 – 29 and a scant 12% of immigrants agreed that “there are clear standards for what is right and wrong.” (7)
So, called “higher education” has apparently done much to harm the values of Americans. Only 10% of the respondents in the same study who have completed post-graduate degrees agreed that “there are clear standards for what is right and wrong, while the figure rises to 38% of those with high school or less education.” (8)
It is still, however, the church that must teach our citizens about virtues and unity. This means that the inadequacy that often passes for Christianity now must be “cleaned up” and the message of Christ restored as its centerpiece. Without the standards of something bigger than merely the laws of a few politician’s American society will be lost. All of America was once perhaps balanced by the plethora of small local churches teaching Americans about God’s plan for their lives. Now, virtue and unity must start again at home, in our neighborhoods, our towns and cities. We must restore the instruction of virtue and unity to our children and their children for the sake of the nation.
This exclusive article for the Caldwell Journal provides a preview of the material in a new book soon to be released by Dan Rundquist, Prayers for Byzantium; How a Lost Nation Might Find its Way; Coming soon from New Plymouth Press, LLC.
1 The Declaration of Independence
2 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
3 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Introduction, pg 13, Library of America, 2004
4 www.goodreads.com from Billy Graham, Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional.
5 “What Would You Do For A Raise? | 35% of Americans Would Give Up the Right to Vote” by Mike Brown April 3, 2018 LendEDU www.lendedu.com accessed 4/7/18
6 www.pewforum.org accessed 1/7/2018
7 www.pewforum.org accessed 1/7/2018
8 www.pewforum.org accessed 1/7/2018