Amidst divisiveness and disarray the anchor of the Constitution holds steady, manifesting order and assurance for an anxious nation. Our hopes and concerns can only be pursued within the steady frame of rational governance. We are a nation of laws, and a civilized future depends on this foundation.
I have argued here that local communities are the building-blocks of society and the foundation of civilization. And, the importance for local cooperation if we are to seek safety and stability in a long crisis.
In no other place do Americans have the freedom and opportunity to resolve local problems, and to develop dependability with neighbors through working relationships. Well-organized local communities and networks of communities will provide the only effective foundation for an American future we can respect and believe in.
Regular readers may already have recognized that the strategy proposed here implies a premise—a pattern and framework for action suited to our circumstances in America.
We understand that the Constitution reflected the traditional attitudes of the 18th century. The intelligent competence of women was unrecognized, and the humanity of black Americans was denied outright. This was true throughout the European world.
But the Founders of the American Republic had something conceptually new in their minds.
They knew the future of the new nation was far beyond their capacity to imagine. Yet, pluralism, inclusive diversity and moral responsibility were clearly assumed in their thinking and enabled in the text. The originality of their vision was made plain in the Federalist Papers.
So it is that since the Civil War we have seen an uneven but consistent and irreversible advance toward inclusiveness—in attitudes, society, and law.
Today, however, something has changed. And we are confronted with the consequences of lost trust, a deteriorating social order, and financial irresponsibility.
The field of debris is expansive and multidimensional. What happened? And, how can the American vision and the confidence it once generated be restored?
No political philosophy is offered here; only a reminder that Americans are the beneficiaries of a priceless birthright: An exceptional Constitution, and an attitude and belief in ourselves, which have overcome crises and hardship and differences for more than 200 years.
There is only one means for recovering the vision and confidence that once made us who (I believe) we still are. This will be along the rocky path through honest, rational, and courageous personal engagement—genuine relationships with other Americans—most of whom we know very little about.
This will only be possible with determination to seek an American future we can believe in, both conceptually and realistically.
In the face of widespread hopelessness it will be a bold undertaking. I submit that it must be forged in the crucible of genuine communities—our own communities—which we have the ability to build in place, wherever we are.
Such determination calls us to dignify ourselves with civility and to bravely face the damage of the past.
I have presented the rationale for knowing our neighbors and ensuring we can depend on them. I have spoken of the need to rise above our differences, at least to the extent that we can collaborate in meeting needs and resolving local problems.
The resources and learned skills we will need are available to anyone, and the frame of mind that allows genuine community to flourish can be achieved by every American.
Again, let me be clear: We are Americans before all else, and we need to organize our communities in place—where we already are.
Those who would retreat into isolation as religious or ideological groups do not simply lack the courage of their convictions. An isolationist, fear-based mentality actively subverts the vision of the Founders. And, it abandons responsibility for contributing constructively.
To restore the nation to its rightful place in history will call for immense patience, forbearance, and generosity of spirit. It will not require that we compromise our beliefs.
American strength and integrity are functions of the diversity of experience, perspective, and practical skills that have, for more than 200 years, overcome every challenge.
The center must hold.
Note to regular readers: You may look for the next post on or about November 30.