Faith in America
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
Great faith has long been the architect of history’s most dramatic and miraculous moments. The faith to believe in victory when it seems out of reach, the belief that a much maligned mission can yet be accomplished. It doesn’t come from an exterior confidence and often isn’t supported by the crowd that plays life by the law of averages. Real faith of the smallest number of people can affect the largest number of things in the greatest possible way. If my year 2008 has taught me anything at all, it is that if you are to realize the desires of your heart, you must hold on strong to your faith, in the face of a growing storm of inevitability.
The theme of the election season has overwhelmingly been the idea of change. It has been put forth as not just a noun describing radical transformation, but as a verb synonymous with a paradigm shift the whole world believes it needs. I have at times questioned whether or not it is real. Do the candidates believe they can truly transform America with fresh ideas or are they simply spewing talking points aimed at hitting the most sensitive nerve of the current national electorate? The bold declarations and idyllic rhetoric of the world we wish for come rushing forth continuously from two campaigns that believe their specific vision of such a utopia lines up with that of the voters they so voraciously court. The frenetic pace with which this idea of change spread across the land was trumped only by the growing signs that we need such a dramatic makeover of our landscape, such as our increasing economic struggles.
I began to wonder, however, if this change really required that much faith at all. It wasn’t as though those people with the most heightened sense of danger were warning us before the evidence was laying before us in the form of a Wall Street corpse. They hadn’t called for radical reform when it could have been anything more than a life raft for a ship slowly sinking and they certainly, upon further investigation, weren’t bringing forth an overtly impressive batch of innovative ideas to save us from the sea of failure we found ourselves in. It struck me that the same people who ignored the past long enough to repeat its first step of failure were bringing to the table the same ideologies that finished off the drawn out demise of countries who had found themselves in similar straights. Socialism and enormous government seem to be the solution for a country hanging by a thread. Lending our ears to a man who has spent more time auditioning for one job than serving at his current one, are we not blind to the ultimate weakness of his message. Beneath his flair and glowing command of the English language, is the fact that he is simply staring down the gun barrel of repeating history and choosing to do just that. He has laid his cards on the table and gone full force into the modern form of Socialism he believes is the only recourse we have in our most trying hour. To me, however, this change doesn’t sound much like a step of faith. It sounds more like step of acceptance and surrender to circumstances we have decided we cannot control any longer. History is littered with the remains of society’s that saw their inevitable doom and made peace with it. It plays deeply to the worst of human nature, the feeling that quick death is better than a painful struggle to hold onto life. Nothing is more American than our faith in our country. Nothing played a greater role in the creation of this, the greatest and most blessed land on Earth, than the faith of its people and their belief that above all else, they were united and indefatigable no matter what troubles they might face. The faith that this is the the land of opportunities of infinite measure, that one could be, could say, could feel, could dream to be anything he pleased, that is what formed us and made us prosper. In a world that decides for people how they will be and what they will do immediately upon their birth, America shines as the city on a hill, crying out from its furthest corners that anyone and everyone can rise if they so desire, that there is no impossibility for an American. We are bound to one another as countrymen by our undying love and belief that our nation is stitched together by more than tangible threads. When our capitalism was shaken before, it did not fall apart. When our military was challenged before, it did not lose. When our very creation was in jeopardy and facing long odds, we defied them and forged into existence the greatest living system of governance there has ever been. America has never before come up small in life’s biggest moments.
Today we are once again faced with obstacles. We are on the brink of economic disaster. We stare straight at enemies poised to strike us at any time. We witness the moral decay of a nation once such an example on the world stage. In the past, nations have seen these obstacles and turned to radical ideologies. They opened up basic play books that were tragically laden with missing pieces and gaping holes the authors clearly hadn’t conceived of. They chose to change and recede into oblivion rather than to stand on the foundations that they so vociferously praised in their times of most prosperity. This idea of change isn’t about making America better, it is about laying it down to die. It is based on the idea that nothing can breed something and that man’s most hollow ideas must serve as his last resort. America’s future may not be visible to us, but unlike our neighbors in this world, we have never changed course when tested before. Starting now seems like it would only accelerate our failure, not cause us to rise above it. I believe America’s foundation is as strong as the belief of its people and their faith that they can overcome the power of the beast that longs to swallow it up. If we no longer posses that faith in our great land, than the only real change that would come as a byproduct of this election season, is our country no longer being very American. That is change we don’t need and should never desire.