American Crucible

The extraordinary challenges confronting the American people mark an unequivocal turning point and, indeed, impose an unambiguous test of America’s place in history.

For more than two hundred years the United States has stood before the world as a beacon of hope, a source of creative vibrancy, imagination and ingenuity, and as a singular model of political freedom, social diversity, and economic vitality.

In the crush of crisis it is easy to forget the historic stature of the United States, and the role it has played and will continue to play in the progress of an ever-advancing civilization.

Yet, our confidence in the future is shaken by abandoned responsibility and collapsing institutions. Our economic well-being and social coherence as a nation have been weakened, and the generosity of spirit for which we have long been known appears dimmed.

In observance of Independence Day, and in honor of the many new readers who have joined the blog in recent weeks, I am stepping away from the current topic to revisit the central theme of the forthcoming book.

Blog posts usually appear each Friday, both here and on the Facebook page. You will find a proposed table of contents here, an introduction to the book, and full drafts of several chapters. This post is adapted from Chapter One, “American Crucible.”

Do we possess the vision and resolve to join one another in rebuilding the foundations of the United States based on its’ core values and ultimate meaning? Are we prepared to rise above our differences for the sake of “the American idea?”

I believe this is a time to consider our identity as a people.

My message is brief. It will be short on analytical detail and will avoid blame. There is more than enough blame to go around and we all know about it. Rather, it will focus on the essentials of mind and attitude, of moral character, and of our relationships with one another that will be required to turn things around – to turn despair into courage and failure into honor and self-respect.

The book will acknowledge some of the basic errors of the past that must be avoided if we are to forge a realistic course into the future. We will briefly consider the manner in which Americans have given up control of our lives and made ourselves vulnerable to the present circumstances.

However, we will do so not to fix blame, but for the purpose of understanding the steps to securing a free and stable future.

We all yearn for a less partisan and more civil national discourse. Let us accept that diverse views are needed, however divergent they may be, if we are to correctly identify effective solutions. Practical problem-solving best occurs with input from varied perspectives. And, I must point out that in the present dangerously fragile context, priority must go to ensuring the safety and well-being of our families and communities. This will depend on loyalty, cooperation, and teamwork – despite our differences.

There can be no freedom without trust. And, we cannot begin to address the larger issues in our future without first securing stable local forums in which to engage with civility.

Is this really possible? Yes, but only with great patience and a capacity to envision the end in the beginning.

The United States has gained its vitality from our diversity and the creative engagement found in the clash of differing opinions. Our differences must never be permitted to subvert the unity of purpose that secures the identity of the nation. This immense energy can only be productive if disciplined by civil discourse, steadfast commitment, and a shared vision.

At a time of extraordinary existential threat we are confronted with a stark choice.

Will we return to the founding principles of these United States as the foundation for building a free, ethical, and prosperous future? Will we defend and protect two hundred years of commitment, hard work, and sacrifice by generations of Americans who have given their lives to this unprecedented vision?

Or, will we give way to the emotions of uncompromising partisanship – and allow a great trust to disintegrate?

Tom

Next week: A Confluence of Crises

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s