“So the land had peace” (Judges 3:11).
America is an idea that can be traced back to England and John Locke’s “Second Treatise on Civil Government.” Locke assumed there was a God who created people to be free. That freedom would be expressed as people pursued life, liberty, and owning property. Our founding fathers picked up on that idea and declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is our shared commitment to this idea that holds us together as a nation—nothing else.
People from around the world come to America to enjoy the blessings of this idea. I could move to France, but I could never become French. A Frenchman could move here and become an American if he was committed to the idea. Our history is the story of clarifying the idea, and our Constitution and amendments codify how we carry it out. Social unrest forces us to reset the balance between asserting individual rights or suppressing them for the common good. This amazing idea is difficult to maintain. Sometimes it seems that we are too big and too diverse to remain the United States of America. But we can be one nation under God if we are all committed to that idea.
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!