There is little doubt that present times feel turbulent. American’s trust in the institutions that are designed to hold the nation together continues to decline overtime. Whether it’s the riots of 2020, to the COVID-19 pandemic, government shutdowns, election turmoil, or foreign conflict, Americans find themselves in a pressing moment. When put to the flame, a country finds out where its resolve comes from. The trial of adversity proves to be a friend to those who can withstand it and a bitter enemy to those who collapse under its strain.
In a marriage, the man and woman make a vow before God and the community. There are values understood between the two parties that are the cornerstone to the entire relationship. When there is argument, anger, and resentment, the marriage endures because of those foundational values. Ideally, they move towards a common goal; two individuals who have become one under a holy covenant. Their unity is in the foundation of Christ, and so long as both man and woman share this foundation the marriage will endure. Trials will make their love stronger, rather than shatter it like glass.
Similarly, a nation is bound together by a covenant. The United States was a rare example of a state being birthed by rigorous planning, debate, and vote. Thirteen colonies came together and pledged themselves to this new nation as voted on by the state legislatures. In his first inaugural speech, George Washington told the American people that, “the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the republican model of government, may be justly considered as deeply, perhaps finally, staked on this experiment entrusted into the hands of the American people.”
Why was America so often referred to as an experiment? Because such an endeavor had never been tried in history. In the modern world, we see race as the main aspect of tension in world history. In fact, broad categories of black and white have become a recent pivotal factor of angst. Early America was a collection of Scots, Irish, English, Germans, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Native Americans (from many different tribes), and African Americans (also descendants of different tribes). The notion that these groups could come together to form a united nation in spite of historical animosity was extraordinary. Of course, some groups were excluded and treated poorly, as is the unfortunate way of an evil world, but America was always moving towards an ideal that what united a country could be something greater than tribal affiliation.
However, in order for such an experiment to endure, there had to be something that united a people, not by force (“for in politics as in religion, it is absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword, heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution”-Hamilton Fed. 7), but through a vibrant culture.
John Adams properly noted that the Constitution was made for a “moral and religious people.” By creating a system of liberty, the Founders were more than aware that the passions of man could run rampant. America feels broken because those in the urban centers are so diametrically opposed and antagonistic towards the values and beliefs of the rural community that there is little to unify on. Liberty alone cannot unify or maintain a society. After all, freedom separated from religion is merely licentiousness. It does not demand responsibility, loyalty, love, or any virtue, merely that a person be “free.” My neighbor having a supposed right to erect a Satanic statue on his front lawn does not make me united with him. In fact, it drives a wedge between us that “liberty” does not rectify.
Something deeper must underline unity, and first and foremost it must be religion. America is a Christian nation. This does not mean imposition or persecution. However, this also does not imply neutrality or passive watching. Nothing in America’s ethos demands that a Satanic statue be allowed to stand in the Iowa State Capital in the name of “free speech.”
Ultimately, individual Americans must make a return to God. Without this, then Americans will unify around something else, or someone else. Progressives have already unified around wokeism, but this will not last long. Conservatives are beginning to rally around Roman-style “strongmen.” Neither one of these will preserve our nation and neither one will lead to a virtuous and peaceful state. Liberty is only good when it’s in the confines of an upright order. Virtue imposed top down is superficial and will collapse. A good society may only endure if we the people exude virtue and demand such behavior from those who, supposedly, are accountable to us.
Editors Note: the author of this piece is Brayden Dean, a guest contributor.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.