The American Dream, & its Self-Image. A person’s self-image & goals in life play a role in how that person behaves…likewise the collective Amer. self-image & vision for this nation have played major roles in how Americans collectively & individually have acted. Amer.’s collective self-image & vision have radically changed in my lifetime. (As the PTSNB control info, posts like this are vital. If the past can be rewritten, what follows? Where are we headed?)
Why did people freely leave their homes, & risk a difficult journey to come to the New World? Hope for a better life. From the beginning the new arrivals in the new world believed that nothing was impossible with God’s help. A new optimism & can do attitude was bred that set Amer. apart from the Old World. Most of the Christians came for religious liberty & were committed to liberty. Thanks to the openness of the frontier & the example of Indian nations like Iroquois Confederation, the Americans learned how liberty & democracy could be achieved. America stood for the freedom to be successful. If you worked hard, were honest & positive, you could be successful. Everyone believed it.
Even before the Pilgrims & later Puritans came to the New World, there is a Puritan document saying that all men—Indian or white—are equal, & they came with that attitude. So did the Quakers, Amish, Mennonites & other groups. Blacks enlisted in the Amer. Revolution & a black regiment came from Haiti to help out. The Puritans in New England felt there was a biblical mandate for democracy. It was their deep faith in God that sustained them through the horrors of crossing the Atlantic & settling in the wilderness.
As Lincoln said, it was “a nation conceived in liberty”, a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people’. The chance for a new life was seen as an American birthright. Americans from the beginning felt they were different, “We bear the ark of the liberties of the world.” When this nation of USA was founded, everyone universally (whether Puritan, Anglican, Diest, etc.) believed 3 things: God existed, man had immortality, & man would be accountable to God. 94% of the writings of the founding fathers quote the Bible. This nation was created as a Christian Republic. For example, Delaware would not allow a man to hold public office unless he acknowledged that the Old & New Testament were of divine inspiration. Early state constitutions encouraged Biblical understanding. There was a great enthusiasm & self-confidence in the American spirit that today comes across as cockiness to the rest of the world.
America did not always live up to its self-image. Corporations ran things as they do now. Elite families still had excessive control & wealth. In spite of that, Americans still had hope that they had a chance to be successful in the New World, and that they were for the most part free men. So when did America’s identity crisis begin?
The first cancer which slowly decayed the vision was Darwinism which undermined the entire worldview of America. That is hard to realize today because we live in a post-Christian nation, but imagine a nation of people who all believe the Bible & in God! For instance, preachers on both sides of the Civil War morally justified their side, and both sides had some truth on their side— both were right & both wrong. (Theology did not settle the war though, armies did.) As Darwinism slowly gained credibility… if God did not exist, then America’s divine mission didn’t– America’s self-identity was in doubt. Man was recast as a predator fighting for survival of the meanest.
The WW I & the Great Depression hurt optimism. Technology hurt the work ethic. But the image of America didn’t die overnight. The 10 commandments & the Golden Rule were still admired & displayed everywhere. It has only been in my lifetime that America went from Christian to pagan, from the work-success idea to welfare, to being future oriented w/ hope to despair, from independent thinking to conformity, from morality to believing & doing what you want, to being against aggressive war, torture & concentration camps to doing them. Our supermarkets are still the envy of the world though.
Years ago the FBI told police dept.s to watch & report on people who believed in the Constitution, they were likely terrorists. (Considering J.Edgar Hoover ran right over Constitutional rights with what he had the FBI do, is it any surprise this came?) American troops are being told in training that evangelical Christians are potential terrorists.
It is an evil time. There is a famine in the land for truth. America has trusted in wickedness. It has worshipped the Almighty dollar instead of the Almighty. It will suffer the penalty of Haggai 1:5-6 where the value of earnings disappears. “Cursed be the man that trusts in man.” (JER 17:3-5a) It will suffer the penalty of NEH 9:36-37 where foreigners have dominion. It is in a rut & spinning its wheels. God would have America back on the road to life, but they don’t want the narrow road to life, America prefers its broad thoroughfares. Be careful what you pray for, you may get it. God bless America? Yes, He will with judgment.