A Patriot’s Ponderings

Independence Day 2018, I am heading down the highway to pick up my son from work and happen to catch the last bit of an All Things Considered broadcast on NPR. The guest is Sheryl Kaskowitz, author of God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song. The point of discussion between the host and Kaskowiz was the different venues and groups in America that had appropriated the song for its message and was capped by an audio snipped of Irving Berlin singing the song. It was an encore broadcast chosen, I suppose, because today is the 100th birthday of the song that is considered our unofficial national anthem. Berlin’s voice and all it evoked was inspirational and set me to thinking.

In our current (and past) political climate, much is made about those in power diverting from the American ideal or the Father’s framing of our nation. Polarized pundits proclaim that they are ruining the country for us and that we cannot let them get away with it. Whatever happened to WE the PEOPLE of the UNITED states? America does not belong to the conservatives or liberals, the left or the right, the religionists or the secularists. As a true monarchist—I owe the reader that disclosure—I believe the United States of America belongs to God Almighty.[1] Its stewardship, however, is the responsibility of us all.

The Preamble of the Constitution should be familiar to us all. “We the People of the United States, in Order to from a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blesssings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Constitutional scholars like to point out at times that this is just an introduction and doesn’t hold the weight of law like the body of the work itself. I am not a lawyer or an academic, but if the stated intent of the document doesn’t educate its interpretation, language should be thrown out as an intelligent means of communication. The drumbeat of the Preamble is unity: we, people, union, common, ourselves, our, united.

I remember an appearance of the comedian Paul Reiser on the Tonight Show years ago. He was joking about the shortest length of time possible was the length of a salsa song on the radio before he changed the station. I think I have him beat. The instant a talk radio pundit states that this country has never been as polarized as it is now, my hand moves in a lightning strike to extinguish the noise. The thunder that follows is my fuming over their intentional disregard of our history.

We live in the most politically polarized period of our history? I suppose in their view Tories (the “right” during the Revolution) and the Patriots (the “left” or “liberals” during the Revolution) weren’t polarized. Maybe the talking heads think that hateful half-truths spit across the aisle are more polarizing expressions than congressmen cracking skulls with canes during debates. Perhaps the Blue (the centralizing-of-power nationalists) and the Grey (the libertarian-constitutionalist states-righters) were only out exercising their Second Amendment rights as “sportsmen” and over 600,000 of “We the people” died as a result of unfortunate hunting accidents. Maybe the young men and women dying under our flag in Vietnam didn’t have that much of a different mindset from those burning the same flag on American campuses.

Conflict and debate were the midwives at the birth of our nation. War was its delivery room. As the doctors attendant, the Founders showed their genius in their acknowledgement of the diversity of opinion and the absolute need for unity. They provided to us, their progeny, with a system of governance well-suited to the tasks of maintaining both. I thank God for their accomplishment and pray that our nation remain as a home and bastion of freedom so long as the King should tarry.

In the simple and beautiful words of Irving Berlin:

“God bless America
Land that I love
Stand beside her
And guide her
Through the night with the light from above.”

[1] This may seem contradictory to my prior sentence regarding “religionists,” but in my view religion has much more to do with man than it does with the living God.

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