We Are Great When We Are Good
Over 200 years ago, America was still an experiment, a French philosopher named Alexis de Tocqueville came to examine and report back home the status on this new land and new government.
He made the comment that any society needs some kind of "glue" to hold it together; customs, history and faith. He said that any society needs a common bond. If the bond doesn't grow naturally, it is taken over by a totallitucian government that holds people together whether they like it or not.
In our land we have a wide open country with various nationalities, customs, tastes, and faiths, a people had a deliberately set out to leave their cities free. The idea was exciting but dangerous. The Frenchman and other people wandered what would keep this brew of freedom from turning every citizen into a government of his own. What would hold these states together? What would keep the powerful from imposing their will on the weak if there was no strong central authority to hold them in check? Why hadn't Americans split into a thousand squabbling factions? Or why had they not been locked into the iron grip of a dictator? Why were they succeeding so well?
De Tocqueville searched for an answer and this was the one thing he said, "Not until I went to the churches of America and heard the pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good and if ever America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." De Tocqueville noted that it was this "goodness" that bound Americans together. Not a fiery fanaticism that turned one people against another, but love, concern and consideration of one American for another. He found a public and private acceptance that this was a nation voluntarily committing itself to the protection and guidance of others.
Americans of course, are not always good. but there was and still in this blessed land a basic concern for other human beings and an acknowledgement of the fatherhood of God over us all.
These precepts have served us well these past two centuries, and they will continue to do so. Deep down we are still committed to what Abraham Lincoln called "Firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right." So long as we keep that commitment, America will weather the storms of the future as she has in the past.
Rev. Hans Lillejord