Opinion

American Statesmanship: What Is The Last Best Hope?

In domestic and international affairs American statesmanship is crippled by the fact that a large proportion of America’s elites (as a group I call them the ‘elitist faction’) now openly stand against, or else have tacitly discarded, the profoundly moral premise of America’s constitutional republic.  Most of these constitutional apostates have, to a large degree, embraced the “globalist” perspective, evident in the NEA’s often stated goal for education—to produce “citizens of the world”, who are devoid of any allegiance but to the inchoate whole of material things. Conceptually, “the world” to which this goal refers, disdains any special preference for humanity.  The assumption is that, like that itself, our species persists in being a “work in progress”, evolving toward whatever outcome “the universe” happens to produce.

But without some conception of the meaning, end or aim of humanity, beyond what is happening now, what does “progress” signify? For many people, especially in such countries as the United States, the word taps into a storehouse of generous sentiments, all connected with increasing the security, convenience and happiness of life, as well as the wholesome well-being of the world that supports it.  Progress is all about love and compassionate caring for all living things, but also for the wholesome material environment that supports life.

Equality is one of the passwords into this treasury of good feelings.  Though often used in connection with such words as “rights” and “justice”, it lacks their more stern and challenging connotations.   Like familiar “comfort food”, equality is these days a “comfort word”.  It promises acceptance, welcome and accommodation for all.  Lost in this haze of sentimentality is the hard fact that, like “progress” equality requires some basis for comparison, as well as some common sense of the importance of the dimension or quality of existence it involves.

As I have noted elsewhere, the wonderful success of modern empirical science has been exploited to advance the assumption that the dimensions and qualities that science takes for granted are the only basis on which to compare the objects and outcomes we experience as human beings.  If human experience included nothing but material outcomes, as empirical science understands them, this might make sense.  But when the ancient Spartan warriors defended themselves against Persian forces that vastly outnumbered them in material terms, the fact that they died defeated, did not weigh in the scales of human judgement, at the time or since then, as much as the qualities of mind, heart and spirited will exemplified in the manner of their dying.

They died, arms in hand.  But though willingly unarmed, and therefore even more emphatically overwhelmed by physical force, Christ and the apostles and disciples who, for centuries, proliferated his example, not only outweighed defeat in the manner of their dying; they overwhelmed the forces that procured their deaths.  They not only preserved the way of living that seemed decisively to seal their material fates. they conquered, after dying, the way of life that murderously opposed it.

Science has no way of directly observing, much less measuring, the qualities of mind, heart and spirited will these ancient and modern examples exemplify.  Yet every self-conscious person may directly experience, and even take responsibility, for them.  They are an aspect of our existence we have to take for granted.

It produces miracles every day beyond the reach of empirical observation — miracles as large as the thirst for justice that once drove thousands into Tiananmen square; as small as the spark of forlorn hope that moves parents who must brave the dangerous squalor of beggary or hard labor pursuing the forlorn hope of scraping up enough to feed their kids;  or as unremarkable as the little act of will that, many times a day, resists the urge to let the real or imagined drudgery of routine unheroic work, and the unglamorous ordinary pleasures of family life discourage it from keeping faith with God, and all those whom He means for us to love.

Empirical science is more than adequate to understand cause and effect.  But what of the cause that has no effect except to verify, within itself, the worth of being apart from any consequence, but the repletion of being itself.  Such is the love of God, for His own sake; and the love of justice and right-doing even when there is no present prospect of satisfaction, except the first-hand knowledge that we have fulfilled the heart within us that longs to be with truth itself.

American statesmanship is these days crippled by the fact that a large proportion of America’s elites have abandoned the understanding of equality that acknowledges the intrinsic sense of worth each individual derives from experiencing this longing.  Isn’t this sense of being in truth, as the aim and end of every individual’s existence, what is also conveyed by the thought of being with God?

That thought takes us beyond life, death and all existence—but not at all beyond the place where we belong.  Isn’t this sense of rightly belonging, in a place and fashion beyond, yet still common to all humanity, the core of what it means to be a citizen of the United States?  It may be the key to understanding how we are meant to pursue the last best hope of earth without surrendering the differences that distinguish one person, one nation, one species of possibility from another. For by doing so these differences also distinguish and beautify the whole, as they are altogether meant by God to do.


Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.