What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Bonnie*B
Glenn Beck wrote a column this week highlighting six steps that would help America solve its problems. He decided to stop short of giving the full 12 in his proposed 12-step program, claiming that “Americans are way too lazy to stick around for all 12”.
I’ll pick up the baton and fill in with what I think are the last six steps to this twelve step plan. First, a review of Beck’s six proposed steps:
- Step One: Admit we are not powerless.
- Step Two: Believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
- Step Three: Decide to take our power back.
- Step Four: Make a complete and fearless moral inventory.
- Step Five: Admit our wrongs, and our rights.
- Step Six: Be ready to remove our defects.
Glenn’s commentary for each step is worth reading.
Step Seven: Demand obedience to the rule of law
In the past few decades, America has grown to be under the rule of men. Opinions have changed, court rulings have altered previous understandings, and powers have been expanded. This has been most especially noted in the recent administration, with a single executive creating new law through an excessive and overwhelming amount of signing statements.
We must step up and bind down our rulers with the chains of the Constitution. We must bring to others’ attention the issues surrounding our leaders, that they too may learn what is being done in the name of America. We must strongly and actively support those candidates that are “good, wise, and honest”, according to the Lord’s political standard set forth in scripture. We must throw out of office and actively lobby against any politician that breaks his promises and destroys the trust of the people.
Demanding that our rulers obey the rule of law, and legislate and enforce accordingly, requires that we ourselves be following such a rule. The inner vessel, then, must first be cleansed.
Step Eight: Return to fundamental principles
Principles endure. Pragmatics and capitulations vary with time. The American experiment, sprouting from the seed of liberty, demonstrated to the world what prosperity and freedom comes from limited government, entrepreneurialism, sound money, and an active citizenry.
We have strayed quite far from this ideal. The rotting, festering core of our economy is showing itself to the world, destroying the illusory perception of prosperity that has buoyed our enterprises for decades. The country once looked to as a beacon of liberty and democracy has become an empire, spreading its hegemony throughout the world. No longer are we the example. We are the pitiful bully on the playground, demanding lunch money from all the weak, acquiescent kids who depend on us, in one way or another.
God surely cannot approve of such an abuse of fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution He helped create. Our continued success depends on the extent to which we embrace the principles the Founders fought to establish and maintain.
Step Nine: Plead forgiveness from those against whom we have transgressed
America, like many other countries, has been a force of destruction throughout the world. Millions of innocent civilians have been jailed, bombed, and starved by the actions of our military. One need only think of the atrocities in Nagasaki and Hiroshima to recount the massive loss of live incurred through unnecessary actions on America’s behalf.
Forgiveness must be sought. Repentance must be sincere. Apologies must be offered, and reparations made. We do not rise above our mistakes until we apologize for them.
Step Ten: Become engaged
If we are to right our wrongs, it is time to stop outsourcing our political responsibility to others. No longer can we afford to spend hours each day watching television and spending our time in frivolous engagements of fleeting importance. Americans must once again become engaged in the cause of liberty. We must be informed, aware, engaged, and active in the political process, and know what the stakes are in this great contest of liberty.
Apathy must be abolished, and ignorance corrected. We must ask questions, demand answers, and speak with others about the important issues facing us today. Politicians must once again be considered our servants, and “we the people” must take our rightful place as masters of government.
Step Eleven: Do our homework
Connected with the previous step is the necessity of obtaining and understanding correct information. We must cast aside the perception that the mainstream media holds all of the facts and truths on any given matter. Once we begin our homework, it is important to question reality, dig deeper than the surface, and refuse to believe what we hear without confirming it from other sources.
We must listen to both sides of an argument, dispelling the notion that one party or one news channel is always more correct than another. It is important that we invest the time required to study the issues thoroughly and gain an understanding of things as they really are. For our homework, we must use the best books, and become, once again, an informed citizenry.
We must be the ones to ask the questions, instead of allowing others to do so for us.
Step Twelve: Permanently and profoundly change
Just as an alcoholic going through the AA 12 step program is counseled to make significant and immediate changes in environment, friends, and mentality, so too must America make thorough change. True repentance and course correctly implies and heartfelt and sincerely implemented change in action. We must case aside the dogmas and perceptions that led us down this path, and make the needed adjustments that will prevent us from making the same mistakes twice.
Alexis de Tocqueville is claimed to have said:
America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. (Alexis de Tocqueville, via Quoty)
I believe that we have seen the evidence of this assertion in recent decades. America’s collective morality has sunken far below her lofty standard, and thus she has born bitter fruit worthy of little more than fertilizer.
I have hope for America. But that hope is conditional upon improvement and change. Any one of these steps—Beck’s included—would be a good start.