We've forgotten what America looks like
Those who should rise up to hold our government accountable have retreated to political corners instead of recognizing basic truths.
America was an obsession for Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville. He spent years observing and writing volumes about “Democracy in America.”
The balance of religion, faith, and the goodness of our society, balancing the frenzied impulses of religion, patriotism (nationalism), and enslavement were always fascinating to me also. For it’s just as likely that a religious government will lead to tyranny, and the worst sort.
On close inspection, we shall find that religion, and not fear, has ever been the cause of the long-lived prosperity of an absolute government. - De Tocqueville, Democracy in America
We need only to look at the Taliban to make this argument. It doesn’t matter if the latest iteration is currently allowing some women to express freedoms unheard of in their past time ruling Afghanistan. That’s only for a little while, for the Taliban is said to be more hard-line today than it was in 2001 when we decided to remove it.
De Tocqueville also saw the corruption of state religion in France, where the revolution sought to remove every vestige of privilege, systemic power structures, and even cultural touchstones related to religion. The French Republic went so far as to rename the months of the year and the years of the calendar.
America’s balance of a secular government, that fiercely protects the liberty of religion and those who practice any faith, along with a religious (and even pious) population that yields back gratitude to God, and service to country, has been the driver of our greatness. It’s not that America is great by conquest, or raw power—though we possess it. America is great by our humility in knowing that we exercise our privileges and defend our rights in order to serve, to understand good from evil, and to oppose the latter.
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in James chapter 1 about the purpose and value of religion, and how we are to recognize true servants.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tonguesdeceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Christians in America, including President Joe Biden, a lifelong Roman Catholic, have forgotten who we are. Both on the political left and the right, we have become hearers of the Word of God, but doers of whatever we want, using the Bible as we please to justify our own desires and actions.
French President Emmanuel Macron called Biden to discuss our role in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is back in control. In the transcript of the call, provided by the French Embassy in America, Macron said “we cannot abandon them,” referring to our mutual allies, and told Biden we have a “moral responsibility” to evacuate them.
The White House’s contemporaneous version of the call omitted that part of the conversation.
“They lauded the tireless efforts of their personnel working closely together in Kabul on the evacuation of their citizens, the brave Afghans who have stood by us and our Nato partners, and other vulnerable Afghan nationals,” the White House said in a brief description of the call.
When The Guardian asked the White House to comment on the difference, they were referred back to the readout.
It’s as if the Biden White House, which has repeatedly laid blame for the Afghanistan moral disaster, along with the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, at the feet of former President Donald Trump, is more interested in political spin than actual moral responsibility to do the right thing.
And Americans are eager to take a side.
In truth, Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now Joe Biden share the responsibility for our moral culpability and now our failure to recognize our own image in a mirror.
Those who should rise up to hold our government accountable have retreated to political corners instead of recognizing basic truths. We must not abandon the orphans, widows, and families who trusted America during our occupation of Afghanistan. Our failure to see that should be a topic blasted from every pulpit in America.
We are like those who look in a mirror, go away and immediately forget what we look like. All the power, blessings, and privilege of being American are worthless, along with all our religion, if we can’t grasp this.
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In a recent post (last Sunday's?), I saw that you brought up Pascal's Wager as one of the reasons you're a believer. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't work that way. (I can't flip a switch to fully believe something without enough evidence beforehand, and I actually tried as a young Christian.) However, as we non-believers are eager to point out, we don't believe (there's that word again) that the knowledge of what constitutes Good and Evil is limited to those who have subscribed to supernatural benefactors. We can observe and appreciate the Good that the atheists, Hindus, Wiccans, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. do in this world, even if the underlying theologies that purport to serve as the basis for those moralities conflict in irreconcilable ways.
I appreciate your call for Christians and other religious folks to get out and DO their religions in the interest of advancing Good over Evil. If I may be so bold, for those of us without a higher-up calling the shots, let me suggest an amended Pascal's Wager for us non-believers:
Rather allow the philosophy of hedonism and selfishness to guide our actions (in the absence of an eschatology that would otherwise hold us accountable), lead a life and engage in actions that would earn the appreciative nod of a Good, Just, and Fair deity, should we be wrong in our metaphysical conclusions and some of our religious counterparts end up being correct. As non-believers, we do not hold that religion has a monopoly on moral reasoning, nor are all the supernatural actors in the various world religions aligned on the side of the Good. Act in such a manner in that you would be fulfilling the spirit of the moral commandments from those hypothetical Good, Just, and Fair gods, even if you're not fulfilling the letter of those commandments, as variously interpreted by our religious counterparts.
This has been a principle I've tried to hew to, and I think it's a solid one. In the most likely case (as per my own metaphysical reasoning), I end up doing some additional Good in the world during the short period of time before I become worm food. In the case that my metaphysical reasoning is incorrect, I'll go to the afterlife firm in the knowledge that I did my best to serve in the spirit of the best god that deserved that devotion. If the god calling the shots decides that I should suffer for my lack fulfilling the letter of the Good over the spirit of the Good, then that's on them.
The problem with the classic Pascal's Wager is that you can't be sure you're wagering on the correct god in the end. This amended version attempts to address that problem, with the caveat that assumes that in the absence of atheist oblivion that there's a Good, Just, and Fair deity calling the shots. This amended version won't address case where its an Evil or indifferent god calling the shots.
Go out and do Good in the name of your chosen gods (or non-gods) to make this country and world a better place that you found it, just as Lord Baden-Powell wrote in his last epistle to the Scouts. :-)
I checked out Mike Luckovich today. He places the blame for the Afghanistan debacle squarely on G. W. Bush for painting us into a corner. He is an apologist for the democrats and has gotten more so over the years.