Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rebuilding the Shining City on a Hill

A group of women from church have been getting together this year on our own version of The Happiness Project, working on personal ways to find more joy in life.  I read the book some years ago and didn't find it life changing, but working together on our own I have found valuable. Our journey has included exercises in being more mindful, and more grateful. As part of my exercises, I’ve included various affirmations, to get my mind more focused on the positive.

Lately I’ve been doing an exercise in which I look at what things look like when some aspect of my life is the way I want it: “When I have _____ the way I want, my life includes _____ and _____.” It puts my mind to work thinking about the positive, creating what I want, rather than cataloging the things that might prove I don’t have it.

So I thought I’d look at that on a broader scale, way beyond just me, to maybe a national level. Maybe beyond that. But what would happen if a large number of us started mentally creating the freedom, prosperity, and civilization we want? Feel free to join me:

When our country is free, we have

·         Laws that limit government to its proper role of protecting our lives, liberty, and property.
·         Laws that come from the most local level possible for the particular concern.
·         Laws that guarantee our God-given natural rights.
·         Laws that are written, known, and understood by the general population.
·         Leaders committed to the limited government laws we have written.
·         Leaders who are committed to serving people, rather than maintaining personal power.
·         Leaders who live exemplary private lives, in addition to their exemplary public lives, leading the population to emulate their example.
·         Equality before the law, with no favoritism for certain tribes: ethnicities, genders, factions.
·         Free and fair elections.
·         Justice that applies the laws as written and intended, with punishments intended to prevent that perpetrator from repeating (could include rehabilitation), and discouraging any other perpetrators from committing the same crime.

Prosperity—The Economic Sphere
When our country is prosperous, we have

·         Free enterprise, with its entrepreneurship and invention.
·         Self-regulating industries, working always for better products, made in better ways, and becoming better stewards of resources.
·         Honor to the successful, and encouragement and opportunity for those not yet successful.
·         Safety in the money supply, which exactly accounts for the accumulated wealth created by the people.
·         Those who create their wealth in charge of how they spend their wealth.
·         Private resources to fund things that are important to us: education, medical care, scientific research, arts, recreation, etc.
·         Private resources to care for the poor who are unable, either temporarily or permanently, of caring for themselves, so that even the most needy have basic food and shelter needs met.
·         Freedom from government interference beyond protecting our lives, freedom, and property.
·         Taxes limited to providing only for the basic role of government, done in the most effective manner.

Civilization—The Social Sphere
When our country is civilized, we have

·         A religious people, with freedom to worship as one sees fit combined with encouragement of basic religious ethics: valuing innocent human life, valuing truth, valuing property rights, and valuing family and marriage.
·         Freedom from religious persecution.
·         Freedom to live our religions in our daily lives, including in our businesses.
·         Self-governing people.
·         Educated and wise people, who seek truth, justice, and mercy, and strong ties to the history that led to our thriving civilization.
·         Strong families, with a critical mass of married mother and father raising their own children, with encouragement and support from extended family and society.
·         Wholesome entertainment and recreation, free from bombardment of sex, violence, or general ugliness and uncivilized behavior.
·         Flourishing art, music, literature, and architecture that uplifts and inspires.
·         Sense of safety and security in our persons and property.
·         Respect for law and authority, while feeling safe voicing our concerns and beliefs to move for needed change.
·         Peace and harmony among our civilized neighbors locally and internationally.

This list does not include things like instituting a minimum wage, or a maximum wage, or any concern about income inequality, because those things are taken care of in a free market among civilized people, who do business fairly and compassionately care for the less fortunate. Government interference always causes unintended consequences, usually which are the exact opposite of the stated concern.

This list does not include any quotas in hiring based on sex or ethnicity; those things are taken care of by civilized people who see each other as individuals rather than members of various tribes.

This list does not include any concerns about the impact of people on the environment; civilized people care for the world they live in, and free and prosperous people are the innovators who invent better, cleaner, safer products. We don't get there by alarmist regulations that prevent innovation and instill guilt simply for living on the earth--which was created by God as our home.

Image by Hawk862, found here
What I’m envisioning might seem too good to be true. But it is the vision our founding fathers had when they wrote our Constitution and embarked on the experiment of the United States of America. Were there still problems? Yes. They were unable to end slavery, even within the twenty-year time frame they proposed. But the Civil War, the bloodiest and greatest disruption to civilization, was probably a just punishment. And it’s long over. And it took a while to get out of debt from getting things underway (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, etc.)

But the first fifty years of this nation may be one of the most significant examples of growth prosperity seen in world history. That's what Alexis de Toqueville found when he wrote Democracy in America.

It was only failure to adhere to the Constitution, eroding little by little—and sometimes big by big—the laws and expectations and civility, that has led to our debt, our restricted freedoms, our economic malaise, and the calamitous state of family, with a majority of children raised without both parents, practically guaranteeing their lifelong poverty and the decay of civilization.

Many of our recent leaders have consistently failed to lead decent lives of service and example, and have sought oppressive power, calling good evil and evil good. Or have failed to stand up for right against those who have sought the failure of the American experiment.

It is said you get what you deserve. But that sounds hopeless, since I cannot control, or barely influence, the masses who fail to think and act wisely.

I want hope. I love my country, and I want it back. So this country—the shining city on a hill, as President Reagan[i] described it—is what I am envisioning. Maybe my thinking of it, creating it spiritually, you could say—even praying for it—along with any of you who also long for freedom, prosperity, and civilization will set the energy in motion to restore what our Constitution was rightly designed to provide.


[i] In his farewell address, January 1989, Reagan said: “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.”



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