The deepening crisis raises unavoidable questions. Will the country be torn apart by conflict, hostility and suspicion? Will the nation survive as the constitutional republic created by its founders? Will Americans have the foresight, fortitude, and grit to reaffirm the vision and principles that will lead to a genuine renewal?
Disunity fosters weakness. If the American people are to prevail as a unified nation, how will we pull it off? Do we have the patience and wisdom to give priority to the stability that makes safety and problem-solving possible?
Peggy Noonan, a widely read conservative commentator and former aide to President Ronald Reagan, addressed this question eloquently in her book, “Patriotic Grace, What It Is and Why We Need It Now”.
She wrote at a time of bitter political back-biting, and, as we all know, things have become very much worse:
“I believe we have to assume that something bad is going to happen, someday, to us. Maybe it will be ten years from now, but maybe not, maybe sooner, much sooner. We have to assume, I think, that it will be a 9/11 times ten, or a hundred, or more, and that it will have a deeply destabilizing effect on our country; that it will test our unity and our endurance, our resourcefulness and faith.
“We all know this, I think, deep down. I don’t know a major political figure in America to whom all this has not occurred, and often…. And yet in some deep way our politics do not reflect our knowledge. It’s odd. Stunning, actually. We keep going through the same old motions in the bitter old ways. Even our cynics are not being realistic!
“…Will the banks fail, is the system built on anything but faith, and will the faith hold? Will we keep our coherence as a country, will we hold together, can we continue as a sovereign nation at peace with itself?”
Peggy Noonan’s little book resonates with the American spirit.
Most of us never expected to see the United States in the condition it is in today. Many of us never expected to face the personal hardships and growing challenges we are experiencing.
We face a uniquely American crisis, yet one that is unfolding in the midst of an extraordinary global turning point. It is, in my view, a time of real danger. We can only rebuild the United States as a living example of a free and prosperous nation if we unite to make it so.
This nation has progressed gradually toward maturity for 200 years, dedicated to the cause of responsible liberty and built upon the foundation of unity within diversity – diversity of nationality, religion, ethnicity, and, most of all, political philosophy. We possess wide-ranging distinctions and differences, but together we share an essential inviolable common ground.
The historic promise of the Union has held every generation in safety through every challenge.
It can only prevail today if we have the courage and forbearance to rise above our differences, to address our problems shoulder to shoulder, and to do what must be done to make our children safe and our communities secure.
We have the capacity to move forward despite the mistakes and tragedies of the past – and the concerns and discomfort of our differences. Many valid concerns need to be addressed, but this will not be possible without the stability of civil order.
Our future hangs in the balance. It is time to reassert the vision with which the nation was built, and insist on a future shaped by fairness, trustworthiness, and moral responsibility.
I submit to you that something far better, far nobler, something perhaps beyond our present ability to imagine, will emerge from the present turmoil.
If, however, we cannot build safe communities with people we are not in complete agreement with – then we will be condemned to the only possible alternative: a collapsing civilization defined by fear and violence, a nightmare for our children, and a land where no principles, no values, no stable order can be realized.
A note to readers: Watch for the next post on or about the Fourth of July.