When our founding fathers penned their names in 1776 to perhaps our nation’s greatest document, the Declaration of Independence, they attempted what we now know was a glorious and courageous feat. Singling out King George as the object of their contempt was viewed by many of their contemporaries as not only foolish, but it would likely cost those 56 men their “lives, fortune and sacred honor.”
Two hundred and forty years later, we marvel at the resolute and unsurpassed character of our founding fathers and the thousands of others who rose up to revolt against Great Britain, their formidable enemy.
Following a brutal and what oftentimes appeared a hopeless cause, George Washington and his ragtag group of soldiers, realized a miraculous and no doubt, Providential victory. As the thirteen colonies concluded their Constitutional Convention in 1787, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” To which he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
“If you can keep it…”
This has always been the challenge to every American citizen over the last 240 years, keeping our Republic. Of course there have been many instances over these many years where we have faced enemies from without, foes that at the time were no doubt powerful and threatening.
Today though, with the ever increasing threat of terrorism, some would suggest that Islamic terrorists have now become our greatest enemy. Others would argue that Russia or China, both nuclear nations which seek superpower status, are our nation’s greatest threat.
Looking closer to home, some would suggest that a President who looks with contempt at the people whom he represents as a serious threat. Others point to our Congress as the greatest threat, as Senators and Congressmen continuously erode our liberties with each passing year. Still others, concerned with the expanding role of the SCOTUS, view our nation’s men and women in black robes as the greatest threat to the permanence of our Republic.
No doubt all of these threats represent real and present dangers to our nation’s survival.
But today we face an even greater enemy than those just enumerated. While each preceding generation has stood resolute as they were tested by the enemies of their time, I fear that the present generation, yours and mine, is not only failing to overcome our enemy, but worse, we lack the will or discipline to do so.
It was Sun Tzu who declared 2500 years ago in The Art of War, “if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear a hundred battles.”
Today we do not know the real enemy we face. That enemy is within. And that enemy is you… and me.
We are the greatest threat our nation faces.
As a populace:
- We are uniformed and disengaged, caring little about the affairs of their government.
- We devote more time to our favorite pastimes, hobbies, or reality shows, than to holding our governmental representatives accountable, at all levels.
- We are engrossed in the statistics of our favorite sports team but know virtually nothing about our nation’s exploding and threatening national debt.
- We spent 10x more on lottery tickets ($70 billion) in 2014 than we did in the previous Presidential election year.
- We care little about the character of our representatives, whether in Congress or in the Oval Office, preferring their promises over their principles.
- Our voter turnout trails nearly every other developed country in the world, with a measly 53% in 2012, and we engage at an even lower rate in local elections.
- Our moral, religious and ethical standards continue to slide at ever increasing rates.
Consequently, as you and I have chosen to be distant, apathetic and careless toward our government, we have seen that same government become dysfunctional, corrupt and an ever growing threat to our “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As a constitutional republic, the United States is dependent on its citizens to select men and women of exceptional skills and character to lead their nation. And it’s incumbent on those same citizens to make the necessary corrections when their leaders veer off course and threaten our nation’s future.
Just this week we witnessed corruption of the worst kind when the FBI, an agency of the Department of Justice, exonerated Hillary Clinton from the admitted criminal violations she was involved in with her illegal email scheme. And yet, it’s highly likely this corruption will be rewarded with the keys to the Oval Office in November.
So what is the answer? And what is the solution? First and foremost we are beyond “political solutions.” You cannot solve a heart problem with a political strategy. And we are informed of this truth by this verse, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
To restore the foundations, we must restore our hearts. And the restoration of our heart begins with the bending of our knees.
Our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, understood this truth all too well when he published this solemn challenge to all Americans, and it’s one we would do well to heed today:
“Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of the civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
And so there it is, the formula to overcome the enemy within and launch our nation’s Second Revolution:
Humility. Sorrow. Prayer. Confession. Repentance. Dependence. Assurance. Hope. Blessings.