According to lore, Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, would gather his players on the first day of training camp each new season and show them an oblong leather object. “This is football.”
John Wooden, the longtime UCLA coach who to this day holds the record for most consecutive wins and national championships in college basketball, famously spent an entire practice session teaching future Hall-of-Famers how to put their socks on before they even touched a basketball.
Both men understood the value of fundamentals; those principles and habits that, when mastered, lead to success.
In his latest book, “Toward A More Perfect Union,” former White House official, Timothy Goeglein, captures the essence of Lombardi and Wooden by encouraging readers to return to the fundamentals that set America apart from every other nation. Just as a winning team must demonstrate excellence in the basics before it can progress, Goeglein makes a compelling case that America cannot hope to prevent wars, save the planet, or cure cancer if we continue our present course of vilifying and ostracizing those who we once hailed as heroes.
By most accounts, there are today more resources devoted to deconstructing America than there are towards “forming a more perfect union.” Americans are more divided than ever before. We are quick to identify our flaws, of which there are surely many, and perhaps even quicker to point the finger of blame at those whom we deem responsible. But very few are willing or able to offer an elixir for that which ails us.
“Toward A More Perfect Union” is a refreshing exception in this regard. Goeglein does a remarkable job diagnosing and documenting a key component of the problem: An entire generation of American school children will enter adult life with no appreciation of our history, or worse, a distorted view of it. Ever the optimist, Goeglein does not capitulate in despair. Instead, he issues a clarion call for us to become part of the solution by embracing civic virtue. That is, we ought to master the principles and habits that will lead to our collective good, and we must pass them on to our children and grandchildren.
To be sure, Goeglein is intellectually honest and affords a fair and honest account of America’s shortcomings. But instead of using past wrongs as a weapon, Goeglein urges us to use them as a tool to better understand ourselves so that we can avoid repeating past mistakes. History is, after all, far more complex than the binary proposition many on the left purport it to be.
If our nation is to make the necessary course corrections to resume our path toward becoming the “city on a hill,” as President Reagan once described, we would do well to return to the fundamentals. “Toward A More Perfect Union” is a must-read for all who love America and want the very best for her.
Mike Berry is Vice President of External Affairs at First Liberty Institute, a national religious liberty law firm. To learn more, please visit www.firstliberty.org.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.