Friday, October 9, 2009

Shining City on Hill Has Bright, New Star

John Winthrop and Ronald Reagan Would Be Proud. A bright, new star has landed atop their shining “city on the hill”:
....[F]or we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our god in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of god and all professors for God’s sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into Curses upon us....*
The First Eight Years of the Current Century saw a huge stain darken the beacon of human rights, hope, and courage that the United States of America has come to represent for the world over the course of our great nation’s history. Fear, renamed “Terror,” took hold of the dominant leadership of the nation.

Much of the Rest of the World Lost its “shining star” of hope and courage for most of the 21st century.

Those in Power in the Federal Government During That Time,
whether for reasons of fear or of ideology, brayed forth their disdain on the rest of the world.

This Attitude—that Other Countries and other cultures might be dismissed out of hand, merely on the virtue of their disagreement with one or more of America’s policies or opinions—has been a shameful experience for the rest of us to endure.

Meanwhile, Those on That Fearful Side of the Political Fence remain oblivious to what they have done, with America’s reputation for courage and liberty and peace and leadership, as a “beacon of liberty” throughout the planet.

The Developed World Has Been Appalled. Those of us at home who believe unequivocally in the American ideals of “the land of the free and the home of the brave” have felt humiliated. And our real and legitimate enemies–North Korea and Iran–have raised their shields. Many Muslim people around the world have witnessed our disdain, and have experienced death first-hand, as a result of our misdirected cowardice.

No Reasonable, Fair-Minded Citizen Can Justify
what was done by America out of fear.

But Today, a Striking Acknowledgment of the passing of that dark eclipse came unbidden, as out of nowhere.

In Giving the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, the selection committee provided a less than adequate explanation for their selection. And almost without question, President Obama has accomplished little that is constructive, too little to earn such a major award on the merits.

Given the Prestige of this Noble Award, and the short list of Obama achievements to which it may have been attached, one can only assume that the award is given for the American accomplishment of the election of a biracial president and for the return, clearly evoked by the new president, of the bright and shining star—of that “shining city on the hill”—of the leading nation of the world, the one true “superpower,” wherein reside the hopes of people everywhere, that though this beacon was briefly dimmed, it was not extinguished. America once again takes its place as the repository of the world’s highest and noblest ambition, the leader of the free world.

We Americans Respect Those Who Differ from Us. We respect those whose opinions and faiths and beliefs differ from ours. But none of those others–whether Israeli or Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghan, Persian or Korean or Russian or Venezuelan or Cuban–can be inherently our enemies. For we, the people of the United States of America–and we alone among the world’s nations–are all people. Americans are Korean and Vietnamese and Muslim and Jew and Hindu and Christian and Buddhist and atheist. We are Georgian and Colombian and Brazilian and Ethiopian and Nigerian, and everything else.

America Does Not Attack, but Only Defends. We believe that we are all God’s children, we are all neighbors in God’s sight, no matter how we define or decline to accept God’s existence, God’s presence, God’s nature. It is not for us–as Americans–to judge how others behave or how others believe, but only to let the Lord judge.

In the Example of the Obama Presidency,
we Americans return once again to the path described by John Winthrop in that same famous 1630 New England lecture:
[T]o follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.....[We] must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities for the supply of others’ necessities, we must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality, we must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body, so shall we keep the unity of spirit in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as his own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways.”*

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Announced Today
in President Obama’s honor does not necessarily represent the dwelling of the Lord among us and nor does it represent the Lord’s blessing on us. Still, it is a singular honor. We, the people of the United States, under the new leadership of our government of the people, by the people, and for the people, have returned to light the ways of peace and freedom and democracy and capitalist opportunity.

On Inauguration Day, 2009, a New Era
began for America. An era that returned us to our former leadership role in the world. We relit that darkened light. Under the articulate leadership of President Barack Obama, America has reclaimed its position as that great beacon, in President Reagan’s misquotation of John Winthrop’s early speech, as “the shining city on the hill.”

Congratulations, to Barack Obama and all the people of the United States of America. And to those who disdain America’s escape from that brief, yet too-long era of Terror, please accept our enthusiastic regrets.

* For our source of Governor Winthrop’s sermon, on which President Reagan’s descriptive statement was based, see the following link: John Winthrop's City upon a Hill, 1630.  (Spelling has been modernized above.)

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