America is a much about an idea as it is a nation-state. In fact, so long as this idea is what drives this nation-state we have a future as a republic. But when we give up this idea it really doesn’t matter since we are not that different from any other nation. Yes, we have a beautiful continent but there is beauty in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Anyone who has traveled to such continents can tell you that people are people, many such places are beautiful and cultural diversity is often charming and attractive. There are people who are virtuous in every place and there are people who are mean and self-centered in every place. We are not fundamentally better than other people, since we and they are made in the imago Dei and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And wonderful Christians live in almost every place on the earth so as believers, with our citizenship first in heaven, we have a home elsewhere in the end. Love of country must never take the place of Christ and the Church. Many Christians in America confuse the two far too easily to the detriment of both really.
So what makes us different on this Independence Day?
I suggest that we are different because we, the people, secured our freedom politically and religiously and then created an economic freedom that allows us to pursue a proper balance between government intervention and individual self-reliance. We are rooted in the core belief that as a free people, living in a free land, we personally can best determine how to live our lives and make our way spiritually and economically. Our political freedoms are meant to guarantee these, i.e., "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The two, political and religious freedom and economic freedom, must not be divorced or we will be unable to pursue our own happiness in the right sense of the term. The values our Founding Fathers gave to us were truly unique. Rooted in European Enlightenment ideals and supported by essentially Christian virtues they rooted these in the providence of God (generally conceived) and in human responsibility. They believed that people should have the freedom to freely make their separate choices, all established in a land governed by law. They dreamed of equality but the results have been mixed. We still have work to do.
Our system is not perfect but it is still the best ever created by mankind. I can’t foresee a better one and do believe this is a unique gift we have been given by Almighty God to preserve and protect. This is why I am unsettled about our future given the forces in the world that wish to destroy us. And our system of freedom is flawed at times; e.g., racism, the lack of equal opportunity for women, laws that oppress minorities which continually require correction, the real protection of free speech, etc. The system still needs fixing even now. But the point is we can still fix it and that is the result of our freedom. In the big picture this is still a far superior nation, with its ideals, than that of any other system in the world, now 231 years after our ideal launched what became a new nation. Happy birthday America!