IS THIS STILL AMERICA?
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Texas Republican Congressman Kevin Brady asked during the IRS hearings last week: "Is this still America?"
Good Question. It is a question we have asked with great frequency for a number of years now.
much as I despise having to say it, we are witnessing an America in
decline today. We can sugar-coat it, we can parse it, we can ignore it,
all at our peril.
To fix it, we must face it. And it is a painful thing to look, objectively, at our country today.
so many of you who have been born and have attained maturity in America
since the 1950's, I can understand your wondering what I'm prattling on
See, you have never experienced a free America. You have never experienced that "shining city on a hill" as Ronald Reagan so loved to describe America. Reagan knew THAT America. He had experienced that America. Many of America's so-called senior citizens living today also remember that America. I do.
back at the America I was born into before the Second World War -- I
grew up in a land with unlimited horizons. It was a "can do" country. It was a land where citizens were not afraid -- nor ashamed -- to love their country and to defend her. It was a land where declaring oneself a patriot did not make one an enemy of the state.
Unlike today's America, my America was a land unafraid -- period.
Why was America unafraid? It was not arrogance. It was, in fact, a solid belief that America was under the protection of God.
will no doubt, question this. Atheists will, also no doubt, get a
chuckle at my quaint belief in "magic." But it is a "truism."
Therefore, it is a fact and stands as such.
From time to time,
this old Pharisee is wont to turn his collar around and climb into his
scribe's pulpit and sanctimoniously deliver a, uh, sermon.
Fair warning: I'm about to do it again ... only ... this time I will deliver the sermon of someone else. It is a sermon that, I believe, all Americans should hear.
Where did Reagan's "shining city on a hill' reference come from, anyway?
we have to go a long way back to before the country was actually
founded. John Winthrop is credited with introducing the phrase into the
American lexicon in the year 1630.
John Winthrop (12 January 1587/8 – 26 March 1649)
was a wealthy English Puritan lawyer and one of the leading figures in
the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first major settlement
in New England after Plymouth Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave
of migrants from England in 1630, and served as governor for 12 of the
colony's first 20 years of existence. His writings and vision of the
colony as a Puritan "city upon a hill" dominated New England colonial
development, influencing the government and religion of neighboring
In 1630, Winthrop delivered a sermon entitled: "A Model of Christian Charity." The
is noted in the same article referenced above that Winthrop's sermon
gave rise to the widespread belief in American folklore that the United
States of America is God's country because metaphorically it is a Shining City upon a Hill, an early example of American exceptionalism.
Understand that Winthrop drew inspiration for his description of America from the teachings of Jesus Christ. To be specific, Matthew chapter 5, verse 14: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."
before Reagan, John F. Kennedy in 1961 (then President-elect), speaking
to the General Court of Massachusetts said the following: "...I have
been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on
the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they,
too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier.
"We must always consider", he said, "that we shall be as a city upon a
hill—the eyes of all people are upon us". Today the eyes of all people
are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level,
national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill — constructed
and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great
responsibilities." SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_upon_a_Hill
So. What DID John Winthrop declare on the windswept decks of the Arbella way back then? As we said above -- every American ought to take the time to read Winthrop's words. They are relatively short but clearly define the mission of the new country.
Here are Winthrop's words as written and delivered by John Winthrop in 1630:
John Winthrop's City upon a Hill, 1630
the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke and to provide for our
posterity is to followe the Counsell of Micah, to doe Justly, to love
mercy, to walke humbly with our God, for this end, wee must be knitt
together in this worke as one man, wee must entertaine each other in
brotherly Affeccion, wee must be willing to abridge our selves of our
superfluities, for the supply of others necessities, wee must uphold a
familiar Commerce together in all meekenes, gentlenes, patience and
liberallity, wee must delight in eache other, make others Condicions our
owne rejoyce together, mourne together, labour, and suffer together,
allwayes haveing before our eyes our Commission and Community in the
worke, our Community as members of the same body, soe shall wee keepe
the unitie of the spirit in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our God
and delight to dwell among us, as his owne people and will commaund a
blessing upon us in all our wayes, soe that wee shall see much more of
his wisdome power goodnes and truthe then formerly wee have beene
acquainted with, wee shall finde that the God of Israell is among us,
when tenn of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when
hee shall make us a prayse and glory, that men shall say of succeeding
plantacions: the lord make it like that of New England: for wee must
Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all
people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in
this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his
present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the
world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the
wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the
faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be
turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land
whether wee are going: And to shutt upp this discourse with that
exhortacion of Moses that faithfull servant of the Lord in his last
farewell to Israell Deut. 30. Beloved there is now sett before us life,
and good, deathe and evill in that wee are Commaunded this day to love
the Lord our God, and to love one another to walke in his wayes and to
keepe his Commaundements and his Ordinance, and his lawes, and the
Articles of our Covenant with him that wee may live and be multiplyed,
and that the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whether wee goe to
possesse it: But if our heartes shall turne away soe that wee will not
obey, but shall be seduced and worshipp other Gods our pleasures, and
proffitts, and serve them, it is propounded unto us this day, wee shall
surely perishe out of the good Land whether wee passe over this vast Sea
to possesse it;
Therefore lett us choose life, that wee, and our
Seede, may live; by obeyeing his voyce, and cleaveing to him, for hee
is our life, and our prosperity. SOURCE: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/winthrop.htm
Three hundred and eighty-three years ago America was warned that we would become what we have, indeed, become should be disavow our mission, as a nation, and turn away from Divine Providence.
We, as a nation have done that -- and more. And we have only just begun to experience the consequences.
© J. D. Longstreet
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