In Revolutionary rhetoric, patriot Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Events of our day resurrect the words.
Reflect for a moment: For more than 230 years the people of other nations have been taking notes on America’s generosity and greatness. They have noted her discoveries and followed her educational endeavors; they have benefited from her inventions and relied on her commerce and industry. They have been blessed by her resources and inspired by her religions. They have been protected by her military and tutored by her government. They have noted the strength of her families and studied the faith of her fathers.
For these reasons America is an exceptional nation. And the whole world has America in sight. But why are the numbers seemingly increasing, within and without, of people who want to undercut America as symbol of hope? Why is America being held in contempt?
In the spring of 1776 at the siege of Boston, George Washington positioned his troops to take Dorchester Heights. To inspire his officers, he said, “As the season is now fast approaching when every man must expect to be drawn into the field of action, it is highly necessary that he should prepare his mind, as well as everything necessary for it. It is a noble cause we are engaged in; it is the cause of virtue and mankind.”
Do we understand the “cause of virtue and mankind” George Washington championed? America’s overarching principles of liberty “support the rights and protection of all flesh.” No one should be in bondage to government or another individual or people. America has been making the case for over 230 years. Unfortunately there seems to be a lapse in our position.
Perhaps C.S. Lewis left us with some words of wisdom: “The right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man (or a nation) is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man (or nation) thinks he is all right.
“Good people know about both good and evil,” Lewis continued, and “bad people do not know about either.”
Honestly, I am trying to discern America’s direction and what she is currently thinking and where she currently heading? As I discern my thoughts seem to coincide with the ancient seer Ezekiel, who said that the children of Israel of his day had “put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between unclean and the clean.”
It may be dangerous and detrimental for us to think we are all right, especially to think that oppressive led nations are equal. At the height of the cold war Ronald Reagan urged Americans to “beware the temptation … to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of any evil empire…. thereby remov[ing] yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.”
I fear some of our current leaders and a growing number of our citizenry have removed themselves from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil, and have ignored—in some cases promoted—the aggressive impulses of an evil empire which is not one particular nation or people. The evil empire we face today may best be described by the ancient apostle Paul: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
We need to fall in love again with virtue. We need to talk of righteousness, morality, integrity, and high standard of activity. As we do so, the cause of mankind—liberty for all—will once again flood the earth and those scorn America will be subdued and fall into insignificance.