It seems like you cannot pick up a magazine, go online, or turn on the television without hearing about the fate of our country’s culture. And for the most part, those discussions are not optimistic, but pessimistic. The words found on the Great Seal of the United States, “E pluribus Unum” seem to be a distant memory as we divide into various factions talking at each other, rather than talking with each other.
Meanwhile, the very institutions that built a strong America: the Judeo‐Christian values of faith and freedom, are seemingly withering away, like an old tree slowly dying from neglect – starving for anything that might bring it back to life. Yet, in our search for what we think will help us, we look to all the wrong places: to government, to entertainment, to self‐gratification, while neglecting and disdaining the very Judeo‐Christian values that will restore our nation to its former glory.
Thus, many of the current voices say we, as a nation, are too far gone. They have concluded that our culture is too rotten to be cured, and like that old tree, just needs to be allowed to die, so a new tree can be planted in its place. We disagree. We believe America can return to the Judeo‐Christian roots that made it the “shining city on a hill” which Ronald Reagan spoke about so eloquently. But the time is urgent and we must take action now.
That is why we wrote American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation. The path to restore our nation will not begin with government, entertainment, or self‐ gratification. It will not happen behind closed doors. Instead, it will begin in our homes, neighborhoods, churches, and communities as we winsomely and thoughtfully engage with those around us, rather than retreating to our computers and our like‐minded “tribes.”
Despite what you may read on the Internet or watch on television, this is happening, and it is what provides us with hope. Hope that comes from faith, and not from government. It is happening through a couple, incapable of having children of their own, adopting six foster children and raising them to become functional adults. That is something that government cannot do. It is happening through a church that has opened its doors to special needs children and their families, loving them unconditionally while demonstrating that every life is valuable and to be celebrated. That is something government cannot do. It is happening from a furniture store owner who opens up his showroom and allows hurricane displaced residents sleep in the new beds that he was hoping to sell. That is something government cannot do.
It is these actions by what are known as “little platoons” that will help bring about American restoration. But it is also other actions as well – such as sitting down and having civil discussions based on mutual trust and respect, on those issues that divide us, that will help bring about our national restoration.
But to do so will require us to step out of our comfort zones. It will require us to open our front doors and invest in those around us. It means we have to set aside our desires to love and serve others, even those with whom we may greatly disagree. We must build bridges to, rather than burn bridges with, them.
In our book, we write about the climax of the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. The main character, George Bailey, stands alone on a deserted bridge and contemplates taking his own life. He has the same sort of hopelessness that many feel today as they look out at our culture.
Just as he is about to jump into the icy water, he is saved by Clarence, his guardian angel, who shows him how dramatically different his community would be if he had never been a part of it. George realizes how much his life blessed those around him – a realization in itself an immense blessing for him. He comes to understand that despite he has not achieved his dreams of travel or wealth, he is truly a rich man because of the relationships composing the fabric of his day‐to‐day life. George undergoes his own personal restoration because he realizes his riches are the relationships he has – relationships transcending any personal differences because of a shared striving for the common good. He comes to cherish his family, his friends, and his community. He realizes that his personal investment in them paid dividends far beyond what the world could ever provide.
That is the mindset that will unite us and bring about American restoration. It is our hope and prayer that, like George Bailey, we will realize that before it’s too late. We think we will and if we do, America’s restoration is not only possible, but probable, for future generations of Americans.
Timothy Goeglin, Vice President of External Relations for Focus on the Family, and Craig Osten, Vice President and Senior Director of Research and Grant Writing at Alliance Defending Freedom, are the authors of the new book American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation. It can be found here.