By Pete Chalos
Just like individuals, nations need goals. In the 29th chapter of the book of Proverbs it is written, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” In the absence of a unified sense of purpose, progress is replaced with unrest. Like any nation, America needs a national vision, a national direction and national goals.
America is currently the most powerful nation on Earth. Yet, we allow confusion to reign in our government. The people aren’t sure who to listen to or who to trust. The integrity of the White House is questioned at every turn. Republicans and Democrats refuse to find common ground, instead favoring dogmatic and counterproductive criticism. The media plays up every tragedy or conflict and amplifies the tension until it is almost unbearable. This atmosphere of bitterness doesn’t promote progress. Instead, it disillusions the public and paralyzes our leaders with fear of harsh and unfair criticism.
The sort of criticism running rampant today is not meant to inspire but instead to tear down one’s rival. Everyone has his own agenda to advance but no one seems to have the country’s advancement in mind. We are tearing the flag to pieces and using those pieces as our own banners. Pretty soon, there won’t be anything left of the flag itself to rise above us.
How many cooks do we have stirring the pot of public unrest? How many newsmen do we need pontificating as though we elected them or as though they have some form of authority or qualifications from which to speak? How many books, newspapers and television ads are they going to try to sell us at the expense of our confidence in this great nation?
Early Americans felt they had a clear vision. It was to dominate this continent from sea to shining sea. We had national aspirations. We built railroads, bridges, canals and highways in order to unify our countrymen. We were busy building large cities and an economy that was to be the marvel of the world and attract millions to our shores. We defended our borders and brought civil justice to the frontiers.
Since those days, there has been plenty of adversity to overcome. There was a Civil War to be fought and a continuing effort toward civil liberty and equality to be won for all races. We fought numerous foreign wars in order to promote the causes of freedom and ensure that the despots of the world never rose to such power that they threatened the peace of our borders. We suffered economic depressions and endured the great threat of communism. Instead of tearing this nation apart, these great obstacles only served to make us stronger and unify us as a nation. We remained strong because we had a sense of purpose. We were building a great nation that stood for democracy, justice and freedom for all.
Since the fall of Russia, Americans have not felt a great threat to our way of life. We seem to have surpassed every competitor and reached a peak or perhaps a plateau. We seem to have accomplished our great mission of creating a safe and dominant nation with a diverse and successful culture that respects individual rights as well as personal liberties. America is on top of the world.
Every great empire eventually reaches its peak and begins to crumble. In times of prosperity, the greatest and longest enduring civilizations have always found ways to rally the people and give them a sense of purpose in the absence of a common enemy. The Greeks, for example, created the Olympic games, designed magnificent buildings, and made advancements in science, art, theater and philosophy. Americans, in this time of prosperity, have made great achievements in each of those fields as well. These things can prolong the greatness of a nation but can’t hold it together in the absence of purpose.
Americans always seem to be fighting for something. It’s hard for us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. If we continue to vehemently polarize our political parties and stir up strife then change will occur and it might not be for the better. Revolutions do not ensure progress. Things can always get worse. Our nation doesn’t need a revolution but a purpose. The leaders who can pull us together and remind us of our duty to serve the common good will prolong the greatness of this great nation.
It isn’t enough to revive the space program, to focus on the threat of terrorism or the spread of democracy into foreign lands or to focus on campaigns for social reform after social reform. We need a strong core purpose that everyone can rally behind. We need a national identity. We need to be reminded by example of the character and integrity we all strive for as individual Americans. We need a leader who embodies that character. We need leaders that command respect because they are honest, intelligent, compassionate, hard working and honorable men with purpose. Instead of congressmen who embezzle millions, we need men of character who are charitable. We need heroes.