How many felt that this was, indeed, hallowed ground? How many have firmly proclaimed that they now had arrived in "God's Country?"
This land proudly proclaims that it is "the land of the free and home of the brave." Each year more immigrants are attracted to this haven from all over the world, reverently express such sentiments, and arrive on these shores which God preserved for our special use. Such tributes have been paid by myriads of such grateful people. And probably you or a near ancestor actually demonstrated that almost religious fervor. Their words even remind us of Malachi 3:12: "And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts." And, I trust, you also feel that we are a "delightsome land!"
I beg your forgiveness, but if that isn't the way you feel about this land please leave! And, please note, when I begged it was sotto voce. So, if you think that wasn't loud enough, forgive me again. PLEASE LEAVE!
For most of our history the immigrants were chiefly Christian. And, as Dinesh D'Souza has insisted in his new book, What's So Great About America, America is great because what they found here was a unique freedom. His writings are aimed at what we should call the America Last critics. And his harsh judgment is based on his own experience. He is an Indian immigrant who came as a college student.
He states, " ... By coming to America ... I am the architect of my own destiny and major decisions like who to love, who to marry, what to become, what to believe, these are decisions that in America we make for ourselves," he said. And, like D'Souza, the free American can equip himself for the employment suiting his abilities and temperament. He can even create his own employment if our out of control and seemingly limitless bureaucracy doesn't find some technicality to keep him in check. Failing to prevent such initiative they will try to regulate or tax it to death. So those who succeed in creating most of our new jobs are special people indeed.
Some think that America is unique because it had slavery. D'Souza, however, points out that America was only one of a long line of nations to have slavery. And it is not made unique by its abolition. It missed that reason for uniqueness by being only the second nation to abolish it. In Britain abolition of slavery was the fruit of a Christian movement. The United States simply followed in its train. And here, as well as there, it was the fruition of Christian social action.
D'Souza insists that the chief reasons for our unparalleled greatness are rooted in our founding ideals shaping our freedom and establishing our identity. These are explicit in the most fundamental of our documents. Our Declaration of Independence showed clearly that our freedom is God given and does not come from some state, supreme ruler, or formless and irresponsible bureaucracy. In that inspirational document are actually found five separate references to God.
By signing this document on that hot day in July 1776, the courageous Founding Fathers declared that America would be a land that recognizes that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator" with certain inalienable rights. This made it unmistakable that "rights" are not granted by some state or bureaucracy which could arbitrarily and whimsically destroy that which it had graciously "granted." By signing the document these fifty-six men set themselves up as designated targets for the vengeance of King George III.
And acceptance of the momentous Declaration was assured by the fact that, at that time, 98% of the 3 million people, were Protestant Christians, 1.8% were Roman Catholic Christians, and .2% were Jewish. Thus they found that such an explicitly Christian document was readily accepted. And there was no ACLU to object!
Later, America's matchless Constitution proclaimed to the world that "We the People," not kings or dictators, would decide the course of the nation. And its guaranteed liberties allowed each American to be responsible, under God, for his own family, property and future. In it are found the innovative governmental principles of real equality toward which the nation could turn. Following these principles we could pursue life, liberty, happiness, and financial security, each family for itself.
John Adams, our second President, pointed to the cause of our failures, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other." (Address to the military, October 11, 1798) This explains our decline and it also explains why other nations, which have tried to copy our Constitution, have achieved grievously poorer results.
Unfortunately today's "dumbed down" and propagandized generation has no insight into these values. The ignorance is not just profound but frightening. Illustrating that woeful ignorance a recent survey of the attitudes and opinions of college students toward the war on terror was made by Americans for Victory Over Terrorism. This survey disclosed much cause for concern about the future of this present war effort. Responses from those surveyed revealed:
A full 37 percent said they would be likely to dodge the military draft if it were it reinstated.
Only 35 percent said they would be willing to serve and fight anywhere in the world.
And 79 percent of students do not believe Western culture is superior to Arab culture.
These benighted "students" should consult the immigrant D'Souza. He says that American values are better because they allow freedom of choice. And it is that very freedom that our enemies hate. Islamic critics say their societies are morally superior since they are based on virtue, because freedom is often used badly. But D'Souza says that freedom is actually necessary to even obtain virtue.
"If a woman in Iran, for example, is required to wear a veil, in a sense you can say that she is not modest because she is being forced. It is only when you choose freely that you can choose the good. So to me the moral superiority of the free society is not just that we are more prosperous or pluralistic but that we offer people the freedom which is the necessary prerequisite to choosing the good."
D'Souza fails to make clear the theology of choice. But that is the really significant root of our success. In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Bush presented the stark contrast, "Our enemies believed America was weak and materialistic, that we would splinter in fear and selfishness. They were as wrong as they are evil."
President Bush told the nation, "Our enemies sent other people's children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different choice made long ago on the day of our founding. We affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life."
Their demonstration of hatred on September 11th, as has happened in past aggressions, seemed once again to renew America's resolve to resist evil. People from all walks of life came together in an encouraging spirit of unity and compassion.
D'Souza enumerated such instances, "The free society has shown that when it's up against the wall, when it's meeting an outside threat, whether it was the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the attack on the World Trade Center, Americans rally and a kind of deep surge of national unity occurs."
Compassion for other human beings, even in war, D'Souza says, reflects the fundamental goodness of American values. He illustrated this also.
"What other country in the world would have defeated Japan and Germany in World War II and rebuilt those countries? What country in the world goes to fight with another country, in this case Afghanistan, and in the middle of the fight is distributing food and rations to avert starvation among the civilians on the other side. No empire in all of human history has ever done this."
In a recent challenge Lynne Cheney, the wife of the Vice President averred, "We didn't get to be free because it was inevitable. Liberty is a very precious and fragile thing that we need to be thoughtful about and we need to defend."
AMERICANS HAVE A HABIT OF RISING TO A CHALLENGE when they see and hear it. The Christian Weltschmerz comes to the fore when they see a clear demarcation from evil. So we can expect that the challenge will be accepted again. We need to make that theological choice. In an interview of Sean Hannity by Pat Robertson about his book, Let Freedom Ring, the nature of the challenge was cogently stated:
"I do believe that this is the greatest single best country that God ever gave man. And we have a moral duty, and a moral obligation to preserve, protect and defend, to use these words, the great blessings of liberty that we have with the understanding that it would otherwise be taken from us."
We're not where we need to be in terms of the resolve to defeat those who have no respect for human life. But ultimately at the end of the day I have nothing but hope and optimism because I know that, you know, America will rise to the occasion.
Robertson: "You really believe that we're going to win this don't you?"
Hannity: "I really do believe. I am optimistic. At the end of the day, I think we have a lot of struggles ahead of us."
We're a long way from securing our borders. And I hope and pray it doesn't take another attack for people really to get what it is that we need to do. We're not where we need to be in terms of the resolve to defeat those who have no respect for human life. But ultimately at the end of the day I have nothing but hope and optimism because I know that, you know, America will rise to the occasion.
This is the same America that beat back Fascism, Nazism, totalitarianism and we will rise to the challenge of beating terrorism wherever it is. I hope more people will get it.
More important than ever, we've got to put the right people in office. Though I have some small disagreements with George Bush he has been a great President in terms of laying down the moral clarity, in terms of what is right and what is wrong and who we need to associate with in defeating terrorism and those that aid, abet, support, and harbor. He is Reaganesque when he describes an axis of evil that we identify those who don't have the traditions and values that we have."
So September 11, 2002 should cause us to pray that our people once again see the spiritual roots of our society. We need to pray that that resolve is revived and reinforced.
President Bush has asked for prayer for the "shielding of America." We can do no less!
Note: I am a Canadian, but I was so impressed with Jack's articulate and patriotic article I obtained permission to use it here on my site. (Ruth).