Of the multiple challenges America now faces, one is most fundamental: achieving a responsible balance between individual freedom and constructive pursuit of the common good.
Our nation’s future has been repeatedly threatened by self-destructive temptations to neglect the common good – intentionally or not – when our sense of liberty is degraded by false claims and deluded, self-serving leadership.
In part, this unhealthy pattern stems from a misunderstanding of the country’s legacy, founded in rebellion against abusive authority, which established vaunted status for the individual. It has been further distorted by misconceptions and misdirection derived from classic commentary on the American identity, such as Emerson’s “Self-Reliance.”
Compounding these interwoven influences is the harsh historical record of the cruelties imposed on African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and other darker-skin peoples – both here and internationally – by the white majority, implicitly sanctioned by institutions professing human equality. As a nation, our struggle with these protracted hypocrisies now culminates while we confront other profound difficulties. Any path forward requires that America finally resolve this legacy of racially motivated abuse, which is still being appallingly executed in brutal acts of injustice.
These circumstances call for us to question how we apply our individual abilities – whether to fabricate and defend unfounded assertions that victimize scapegoats who are blamed for ordeals being suffered, or to insightfully reexamine and revitalize our commitment to unifying ideals.
Despite the sacred bonds of society being frayed by the reckless turmoil of selfish agendas that thwart the humanitarian principles of compassion and fairness, by renewing our embrace of the Bill of Rights we can revive our quest to advance America’s founding aspirations and extinguish the malignant perils of exploitation, distrust, and violence.
Many may now wonder if it’s still possible to realize America’s potential for cultivating a durable, diversely promising future. The answer largely depends on our collective ability to acknowledge the vital interconnections and interdependencies among humans – not only fellow Americans, but all who share the blessings, and limitations, of Earth’s prolific but vulnerable abundance.
We must now thoughtfully dedicate our liberties to redefining and serving the common good.