Columbia, SC — In his speech in 1860 accepting the Republican nomination for president, Abraham Lincoln quoted a passage from Matthew 12:25, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” If Lincoln were to appear on one of the many TV newscasts that flood the airwaves, would the present political and social climate move him to say the same today?
There is a deep divide in this nation on health care, the best path to immigration reform, women’s rights, particularly as to abortion, and budget debates that seem to cast aside the needs of the poor and the elderly and bypass the well being of children. Are not two purposes of our federal government as set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution to promote the general welfare and secure justice?
Our political leaders appear to be more concerned with ideology than the common good of the populace. The committee vote in the House of Representatives concerning abortion is a case in point. The legislation was framed by 10 men; not a female voice was heard. That in itself is a great divide.
In his book One Nation Under God, Mark Noll, Christian historian and professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, observes that life is complex and that simplistic answers to basic questions are bound to be false. Over and over again, he points out that the answer is both-and, rather than either-or. One nation under God, in the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, carries a great responsibility for those chosen as legislators to study, debate and find a path to doing what is right and proper for the majority, and not for the chosen few. It demands that those who make the laws find common ground in matters of conscience and compromise.
As we observe the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, may those in the seat of government understand they carry with them the trust of those who gave them responsibility to shape laws that will reflect the words of Katherine Lee Bates in that beloved hymn: “O beautiful for patriot dream/ that sees beyond the years/ thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”
God bless the United States of America.
Rev. Canon George I. Chassey