My Musings

DEFINING AMERICA

DEFINING AMERICA

America is not a geographical location (the land was here long before “America” existed). Nor was America ever just her government (we were so much more than that). It is also not skin color. In fact, race, gender and class have no genuine bearing on the identity of Americans. What America was and is can only be found in hearts and minds. Here is a short list of what generally defined America:

  • Trust in God (our official national motto).
  • Love of liberty (especially religious freedom).
  • ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (core mutual convictions amid diverse backgrounds & appearances.>
  • Consent of the governed (democracy).
  • Rule of law and equality under the law, even for politicians (we were supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men).
  • Personal responsibility (not collective dependency).
  • Limited government (trusting citizens over politicians).
  • Separation of powers (do you know the three branches?).
  • Belief in hard work (the opposite of an “entitlement” mentality).
  • A free market economy where businesses profit by showing an effective serving spirit and a “May I help you?” attitude.
  • Traditional family values and strength (some warm apple pie too).
  • True grit and determination.
  • Respecting human life as an inalienable right granted by God.
  • “Golden Rule” lifestyles (kindness and generosity).
  • Gratitude for our heritage (Thanksgiving to God first and also to our forebears).

Some of the qualities above existed in different degrees throughout human history but were never combined to the extent that they were in America. Sadly, they are in decline in America today. They are considered antiquated and obsolete by many of our academic and cultural elites. They are routinely undermined in our media and schools. Our children are being taught to see America mainly as a geographic location defined by politics and politicians. This is short-sighted.

Against all odds, colonial Americans broke free from King George III and carved out a Constitution that limited and separated the powers of government. Two Great Awakenings forged in us a unique Christian character that helped prevent our newfound liberty from sliding into anarchy. The poison of slavery was eventually purged from America and a strong work ethic thrived in its place. Since then, millions of disadvantaged and downtrodden people from all over the world have sailed to our shores and assimilated to become real Americans. In the 20th century, fascist totalitarianism fell under our fire and that of our allies. Over the centuries, Americans endured some of the toughest hardships known to man to become a prosperous and free superpower.

America did not eliminate human selfishness and sin but she pointed the world in a better (exceptional) direction. She planted seeds in human hearts and minds that eventually raised liberty, human rights and overall human welfare to a higher level. Peaceful transitions of power were rare when America was founded. Most power was held in the hands of ruling monarchs and elites who would not let go easily. Governments were considered the dispensers of human liberties and rights rather than the Creator. America challenged and even changed that, for a time.

Like all of human history, American history was a mixed moral bag with lots of good and evil. But our founding principles became a shining light to the world, here and abroad, providing guidance for disabling tyrannies and enabling democracies. Since America was never the kingdom of God on earth, it was bound to fall someday. Considering the erosion of the qualities and principles listed above in our hearts and minds, it just happened sooner than I expected.

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.