What’s left now that the election is over? After witnessing all the mudslinging, lies, and insults, did you wake up the morning after surprised or disappointed? Exuberant or depressed? Are you just relieved that it’s finally over? It’s time to take a deep breath and collect our thoughts.
One thing is certain. None of this took God by surprise. Regardless of how we voted, or even if we didn’t vote at all, now is the time to find common ground with our neighbors and begin healing from the wounds of division.
Abraham Lincoln faced a similar challenge during the Civil War, the most divisive time in America’s history. He had just been re-elected for his second term and Congress had voted to end slavery by passing the 13th Amendment under his leadership. At the close of his second inaugural address, Lincoln strengthened a violently divided nation with these words: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds … to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
The first step of healing is always acceptance. Accept that we have a new President and newly elected officials at the state and local level to whom we owe our support and respect. Accept that we may have disagreed politically, but we are still neighbors and countrymen. We must believe the best of each other and find our common ground. We all want the same things – the best for our families, our children, and grandchildren, regardless of our varying definitions of “best” and how to accomplish it.
Second, we must give thanks that we are privileged to live in a nation where peace is the norm. Thank God the American system has built-in safety mechanisms for peacefully transitioning from one administration to another and has carried that out after each election – albeit not always without incident – over the previous 240 years.
Third, we must unite as Americans once again. Unity begins, not with everyone agreeing on the agenda of one party or another. The unity of the American people will only occur when we are all in agreement with the same foundational truths that birthed our nation. Only then can we put one foot in front of the other and focus on working toward our common goals as one people.
In his inaugural address, President Thomas Jefferson graciously addressed the division that occurred prior to his election when he said, “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans, we are all federalists.”
Finally, the most important element in healing is prayer. Prayer for our leaders and for each other. Prayer to dispel the spirit of division – that we will be unified around truth. And prayer for peace and safety.
Since America’s beginning, our basic values provided us with common ground. Americans not only solidly agreed on these truths, but we rallied around them. Our values once united us and defined who we are as a people. They gave us purpose. Can we still say we agree on these principles? Can we still be united by these truths?
- As “One Nation Under God”, do we still believe there is a Creator and that all men are created equal?
- Do we still believe there are fixed morals (rights and wrongs) or the “laws of nature and nature’s God” that no man can alter?
- Do we still believe that government exists to uphold these moral laws?
- Do we still believe, as our founding fathers did, that our inherent rights come from our Creator and government was instituted to protect those rights, not alter or abolish them?
- Do we still believe that under unalienable rights and the moral law, government is to function only by the consent of the governed?
- Do we still believe that if the government does not recognize the above principles that we can work to alter or abolish it?
- Our second President, John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” It is clear that our moral foundations, essential for self-governance, are crumbling. Are we still willing to agree together in prayer as one people, as we have done for generations through wars and various trials, for a national movement to restore of our moral foundations?
“The American Founders did not pluck those truths out of thin air, nor did they simply invent the principles of American government. They drew from their knowledge of thousands of years of human history, during which many peoples struggled for liberty and limited government. There were both defeats and victories along the way. The results were distilled in the founding documents of the American experiment in limited government: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the state constitutions, and the Constitution of the United States.” –“The American Founders”, Cato Institute
The American experiment is a unique system of liberty that has made it possible for the U.S. to become known as the gold standard of success, prosperity, independence, and a strong work ethic – a place to freely nurture ideas, inventions, and new discoveries, the evidence of a free and civilized society. Our founders understood that given the gift of unparalleled freedom, future generations of Americans would have opportunities like no other people in history. The founders left us an extraordinary road map so we could carry out the unprecedented experiment in self-governance. But if we do not read and follow the road map, our gift of liberty will become hopelessly lost.
If Americans can agree once again that we believe in the seven foundational principles that established us as a nation of We the People, we have the basis for coming together again in unity and can begin the process of healing and restoration.
Only in unity can we fulfill our destiny. What is our destiny as a people? We have declared as our motto “In God We Trust”, making our destiny clear.
How do we respond to the call to fulfill our destiny? We have an obligation – a duty – as a nation called out of darkness to share the marvelous light of liberty with the world. With our blessings come the responsibilities of being that “shining city on a hill”.
We are not created to serve ourselves but to respect and serve others within the boundaries of moral law. If we are willing to disciple others and they are willing to receive it, we provide them the opportunity to obtain and live out the same extraordinary blessings we have enjoyed. As some would put it, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Or as Jesus commanded, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” True healing and unity will occur when we, as one people, once again demonstrate and defend the truth of liberty to the world.
There is no leader who can be our savior. Our hope cannot be invested in the promises of flawed people. The promise of hope and change for America can only be found in the same Creator we depended on at our nation’s founding and on a prayerful people united by our shared principles.
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