Seeking an American renewal will be an arduous task requiring genuine dialog and rational negotiations. Basic values and national purpose need to be on the table. Our differences are great and some have not been resolved for 200 years. But, civilized debate may not turn out quite as we expect – if all sides actually listen.
At this very challenging moment for Americans I suggest that the goal of civil dialog should be to answer the following questions:
Will a courageous few stand together at the center of national unity?
Are we willing to rise above our differences to rebuild civil society based on moral responsibility and basic shared values?
Will this alliance of loyal and determined citizens establish itself as a civilized American “center” that transcends culture, religion, politics?
Will the center hold?
As difficult as it is to visualize how this can happen, I expect Americans will rise to necessity. Because we must.
The only alternative could easily be catastrophic collapse – with no future possibility of influencing receptive minds or furthering personal agendas.
I believe such a challenging course of action can ultimately succeed because it does not need to begin with large numbers. A small unified core group of determined Americans can make this happen. But, it will require citizens with vision, tenacity, and compassion who invoke a powerful moral presence.
Such an honorable vision for the future which embodies a generous and welcoming spirit will be immensely attractive to a nation desperate to feel solid ground beneath its’ feet. Increasing numbers will respond. A few at first, then many.
I expect the vision of a civil order based on trust and responsibility will draw Americans to it from every walk of life – from every religious faith, from every economic condition and political philosophy.
Why? Because without safety, civility, and a stable order no one will be listening. The business of the nation will grind to a halt.
The first priority must be to defend the identity and character of the United States as a constitutional republic. The second priority will be to do what Americans have always done: to debate our many differences with fairness and dignity.
What is essential is not that we agree on all aspects of personal belief, but that we restore the integrity of a civil society that allows for constructive cooperation, so that we can secure the safety of our families and the stability of civil order.
If this is indeed our priority, we cannot allow America to disintegrate in unrestrained acrimony. We will have to choose our battles. Some issues might be argued more effectively on another day.
James Madison fought to have slavery abolished by the Constitution when it was first drafted in 1787. It was painful for him to walk away from that vision, but he finally realized it threatened to kill the entire project.
It took decades for citizen abolitionists to get the job done.
Today, however, agreement about certain principles will be immediately necessary. What must these be?
What are the core principles that will put America on the road to a self-respecting future? Not the core principles held dear by each of us personally, but rather those necessary to pull a diverse people together to make our local communities safe and dependable.
Each of us must consider our personal willingness to engage in respectful, meaningful dialog concerning these questions.
As regular readers know, I have suggested several principles in this blog that I consider essential. In addition to a firm defense of the Constitution, I have written of the necessity for trustworthiness and civility, for moral responsibility and the concept of constructive action.
A fully American future can only be reached by identifying where we can find common purpose.
An inclusive vision of the future does not require agreement, but rather genuine curious interest and understanding – and a shared loyalty to the nation we love. Only then can we work together on real problems and real needs.
We are either all in, seeking to build a free and fair society, or we are each on our own in a disintegrating world.
Dear readers, please look for the next post on or about July 19.