Independence Day weekend 2020 was unlike any other national birthday celebration in my life. I sat and stared out the front window at our flag a lot as it jumped and swayed in the warm Texas breeze. For the first time it felt like the holiday wasn’t uniformly treated as such.
I started jotting down some truths that I feel should always be self-evident, but that occasionally need to be repeated for the benefit of others. So for my kids sake, I collected my thoughts.
We are blessed to live in the world’s most powerful nation; a nation that offers unlimited opportunity to each and every one of its citizens.
Now today some would dispute that claim but their protests falter when reminded of the indisputable fact that every single day, non-Americans from around the globe risk everything to come here. Right now there are people living in utter squalor that are dreaming of somehow making it here.
So why would some people that live here contest that America’s global attraction, and this weekend’s event, are things worth celebrating? This question comes up every now and again. As citizens we share in the responsibility to occasionally remind each other of certain facts so we can retain context and perspective. Without those two things it becomes very easy to fall into selective retention, or worse.
So let me be blunt and make a very audacious claim that I will then put into context and perspective. My bold claim is that next to the Second Coming of Christ, America is still this world’s greatest hope! Recalling some truths about our country will shed light on my conviction.
America is not perfect, but it’s been on the road towards a more perfect union for almost 250 years, and has made amazing strides. It has accomplished things that make people from all over the world stand up and say, “yes I want that too.”
Next to the Second Coming of Christ, America is still this world’s greatest hope!
In January of 2001, President George W. Bush said during his Inaugural Address that the American story is one “of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals.”
Remembering one of Jesus’ great parables, I liken America to a field where the weeds and the wheat grow side by side. Lately, some people have been directing our attention to only the weeds, and claiming because of them we should burn the whole field and start again.
But in that process there would be a lot of great wheat lost. And without that unique wheat, our world would soon starve.
I’m referring to The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, where together our founding fathers placed unbelievable trust in all of us, site unseen. Their courage and forward thinking provided the framework, the very field, for our greatness.
What’s taken root in this field are things like dignity for all, opportunity, free enterprise, private property and a citizenry empowered to defend itself, as well as the public practice of religious liberty and free speech, justice and equality.
These ideals are things we do not own but tend to, and help grow and preserve for all. As one human race, made in the image and likeness of God, our creator, we have the inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness spelled out, nurtured, harvested and protected here. That is both a dinner bell to a hungry world, and a threat to those controlling the hunger.
Our enemies, the ones standing both in and around the great field with gas cans and matches, continue to scream and point at the weeds. And yes, there are plenty of weeds to deal with. Name the sin, and you’ll find it somewhere in the American field. But make no mistake: for every one of us concerned with the weeds, there are two that want to use that concern just to advance their own pyro-maniacle agendas.
Our common enemies want to convince us that we are not farmers tending to enduring ideals, but rather to just an “experiment” that can be easily uprooted for another. They want to strip away the liberties and dignity we have fought so hard for, by shouting down free speech and attacking religious practice. They also desire a disarmed America and advocate banning our police, claiming they have a better idea. In practice their “better” idea would be to remove the trust that the founding fathers had in us, and replace it with enforced enslavement, where they are our only directors, the grantors of our rights, our only faith.
Remember in the Lord’s parable that an enemy sneaks around at night, sowing the weeds. America’s enemies point to, and work to create, inequality, to distract us from our common opportunities and individual pursuits, and say we shouldn’t have private property so they can own everything and distribute things according to their self-centered whims.
Those seeking our ruin also assault the architecture of our form of self-governance out of jealousy. They offer suggested “tweaks” in order to disrupt the genius of our representative republic. In reality the brilliance of our form of government is what I call a “trinity of representation”. My understanding of God, as a sacred trinity, affirms for me that our government’s design is the closest man has come so far to a divine order.
All the enemy’s offered tweaks, like abolishing the senate or eliminating the electoral college, only limit our voices, silence those who oppose them and create distance from the divine. In their attempt to highlight only the weeds among us, they remove context and perspective from our history and claim we were always broken and illegitimate – which is a lie.
The truth is our history is a record of our progress in that pursuit of a more perfect union, not a statement of status quo! The statues, memorials and monuments that our enemies are targeting are but pavers along the road of our story. And though they all do not deserve to be celebrated equally in the public square, they must not be destroyed for risk of denying future Americans the value of lessons learned along our way.
The demonizing of historical figures, including those who first plowed our amazing field, attempts to normalize the very dangerous practices of denying mercy and abolishing forgiveness. Every Christian should naturally bristle at this advocacy. It flies in the face of God Himself, by opposing God’s own methods and concept of justice. It dismisses God who assured us long ago that vengeance was his. It also objectifies and targets individuals for cancellation by denying the claim that they have dignity bestowed on them by God, and that their dignity is protected here in our field.
This objectification also helps our enemies with other parts of their agenda, the implementation of what St. Pope John Paul II called The Culture of Death. By promoting the elimination of the unwanted, and those deemed unworthy, we resemble the very oppression and tyranny America has opposed from its inception.
In reality, our pursuit of a more perfect union over almost a quarter of a millenia, has created a country that showed the world more freedom, equality and prosperity than any other to date. This prosperity has enabled immeasurable dreams to come true and produced the most generous and welcoming nation the world has yet to experience. Today, 98% of us are here because our ancestors acted on their dreams and risked everything to come to America.
Our pursuits have also created a nation made up of the world’s most generous people. Americans easily lead the world in charitable giving. This is only made possible by our prosperity and liberty. It is not by accident.
- It is because of the soil each American generation has tilled and guarded for its descendants.
- It comes from the bounty harvested for our ever expanding Thanksgiving dinner table.
- It is because American citizens from every culture and income bracket are, by nature, good people!
We are not different factions and versions of people, like our enemies claim, but rather all one family allowed and encouraged to flourish here in the field and produce goodness to share. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI put it, “the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side.”
Meanwhile the pyros continue to pace around, looking to ignite our great field by first painting everything about it as racist. They use the universally detested sin of racism as cover for their equally sinful intents. They spend considerable efforts to spread the lie that we are not one human race, not all children of God and not one diverse family. Instead they turn our diversity into division, and falsely claim that this is the only way to accurately survey the field.
“The human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
If we could interview our American ancestors and hear their stories, we would know beyond any doubt the good America stands for, and how she has actually strived to become one of the world’s least racist nations. This is an unpopular truth for the anti-American advocates among us to deal with.
Historical evidence confirms that our founders heavily debated slavery, which was a global industry at the time of America’s birth. In the 17th century, the Catholic Church officially condemned the international slave trade. The same sentiment was echoed by American Quakers, and soon the voices of justice and equality continued to sound for all people of our land, with slavery’s abolition as the goal.
Our Civil War almost cost us everything, with over 600,000 American boys, men and leaders dying to finally end the debate. Another unpopular truth for America’s enemies is that the vast majority of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on the winning side, were of the racial majority. But the work in the field did not end there. As a nation of laws, the voices of justice and equality continued to fight in our courts and at our ballot boxes, to ensure those lives lost in the Civil War were not lost in vain. What other nation in man’s history can point to such feats?
The conclusion to our Pledge of Allegiance, “and justice for all”, is not just a pleasant sounding platitude. It is an American battle cry, a divine commission that has been equally shouldered by many of each generation since the ink dried on our Declaration of Independence.
These enduring ideals produce America’s amber waves of grain that tower over the weeds, and has enabled America to become the strongest force for economic and political good the world has ever known. Next to Christ and His Church, it has been the world’s strongest force for good itself and that is why I dare say our country stands as one of the world’s two great enduring hopes.
“And justice for all”, is not just a pleasant sounding platitude. It is an American battle cry, a divine commission that has been equally shouldered by many of each generation since the ink dried on our Declaration of Independence.
Fruits, Gifts and Virtues
Jesus also taught us a tree is known by its fruit. I’ve just described the bounty America has produced. But what about America’s enemies, both foreign and domestic? What can they offer that is a better alternative to what the founders of our field created? What type of fruit can a belligerent mob produce?
In Scripture, we read that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Look at the mob and how it behaves. Take your time and survey America’s enemies. What gifts of the Holy Spirit do they possess? Any?
Those gifts of the Holy Spirit can produce seven great virtues. They are prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and charity. Whenever America has been at her best, these virtues have been on display.
What virtues does the mob espouse? Is the opposition to America known for any virtue worth emulating? None that I am aware of or even consider appealing.
Do you know why our enemies don’t just dump their gas in our field and light their matches? Because they know what you may have forgotten. They can burn down the amber waves of grain and American patriots will not only put out the fire, but will get right back to work planting again.
The pyros may be able to destroy the physical field, but they cannot destroy the patriotic sensibilities beating within your heart and mine. Patriotism cannot be abolished from an outside force; it must be surrendered. So they continue to whisper negative thoughts in our ears. They sneak around at night sowing more weeds. They instigate and antagonize. They seek your approval to lighting their matches.
Immigrants that have previously escaped our enemies and blessed our shores tell us that our foes are masters at using our own freedoms against us. They warn us about the tactics our enemies deploy against the unsuspecting. Class warfare, racism, identity politics and misinformation of all kinds are used to separate us. The pyros know that if they can just stir up enough discontent, that we will do their dirty work for them.
Jesus Christ told us that His Church was assured of its future when He declared that the gates of Hell would never prevail against it. America on the other hand has never had any such assurances. She will have to continue to fight for her future.
Each of us has a part to play in the defense of truth, justice and “the American way”. I will continue to do mine, and pray that the majority of us will also respond from sea to shining sea, so that America can continue to feed the world in more ways than one with her enduring wheat!
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
St. Pope John Paul II