Reflections on Issues Facing America

November 14, 2011 10:53

[J]ust as the Revolution depended upon “…a superintending Providence,” the solutions to our current crises depend upon that same Providence more than the wisdom and competence of mankind.

By Robert C. Wilson at Center for a Just Society

There is a saying widely attributed to German origins that says, “We get too soon old, and too late smart.” I am hereby giving personal testimony to the truth of this proverb. But I believe there is a solution to the national issues we face that has little connection to how smart or talented we are.

I have always admired folks who have quick, incisive minds – who can look at an issue and get right to the heart of the problem. I must admit I cannot count myself among these folks. It’s not that I am unable to draw good conclusions; it just takes longer than my ideal. I am one of those people who, ten minutes after a heated debate is saying, “If only I had said this or that!” I freely admit that I am no stranger to stupidity, and that fact is a thing of deep regret to me.

Maybe this confession explains why it has taken me to my mid 70s to be ready to share my conclusions on the issues we face as a nation.

It takes a measure of self-delusion to deny that America is facing crises in a number of spheres, including the economy, our constitutional order, the authority of our government, employment, moral leadership, foreign policy, wars, and our energy future, to name but a few.

We have faced many crises since we became a nation and somehow survived. We could ask what forces were effective in our survival of these crises, and whether we can be assured they will bring us safely through the current ones? The world and America have changed during our 235 years. What was true in the world political and economic climate 150 years ago is no longer the same. The number and nature of our current crises will require a dedication to wisdom and principles not widely observed in our national leadership regardless of party affiliation.

Are our leaders evil people? I suggest that most are principled folks, though their principles frequently differ, and the source of their principles may be called into question. But some career politicians whose principles are subject to personal goals of wealth and fame can justly be classified as evil, or at best not consistent with their oath of office.

With this background I am prepared to crawl out on a limb and say some things that may offend some. But I believe all Americans need to be ready to take a position if we are to remain a healthy, strong nation.

Many have pondered how Hitler managed to take total control of Germany in pre-World War II days. Some have attributed his success to something innate in the German people, as if they were somehow different from other people. F.A. Hayek, who was there and observed what was happening said that there were cultural realities indigenous to Germany from her history that contributed, but that the German people were no different from any other people. Many Germans were devout Christians whose life principles were in strong opposition to the philosophy of the Third Reich. Dietrich Bonheoffer, for instance, was executed for his courageous opposition to the Nazis.

There was another contributing factor. The existing German culture espoused the separation of faith from politics. The prevailing view was that faith was a personal matter that should be left out of political discourse. Christian churches were deceived into believing the Third Reich was an ally of Christianity until it was no longer possible to effectively resist. Then, due to the basic tendency of men to avoid conflict, many church leaders capitulated.

When we look at the cultural landscape of America, what principles are being applied to dealing with our crises? We hear political leaders talk about cutting spending, changing the tax code, creating jobs, changing regulations and a plethora of other ideas to assuage our problems. Many of these problems, if not wisely dealt with, have the potential to render America a weak, second-class nation.

Where are these ideas coming from? I suggest that most of them come from intelligent people who honestly believe that everything will be OK if their ideas are implemented. Some of the ideas are appealing and may actually have merit. But when you look at the gut-level motivation, who is in charge? In most cases those who have implicit faith in their own wisdom and competency believe they are, or should be.

Have we always held that the solution to national crises will come from the wisdom and competency of our elected leaders? If so, then how do we explain the success of the War of Independence, when a rag-tag Continental Army prevailed against the largest, mightiest, best equipped, well trained army and navy in the world? General George Washington repeatedly expressed his dependence on divine Providence, and the result was nothing short of a miracle.

In 1720, 55 years before the conflict began there was an event in American history commonly referred to as the “Great Awakening.” The effects lasted for many years. Under the leadership of men like George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, there was a widespread turning to faith and repentance among American citizens. Many historians have said that the Revolution would not have occurred were it not for this preceding spiritual event.

I am still moving out on this limb. We will now see if it breaks or provides adequate support.

Throughout our recent history, particularly since early in the 20th century, our nation has incrementally pushed religion out of public discourse. Our federal government, in particular the federal court system, has become increasingly hostile to religion, especially to Christianity despite our First Amendment protection of the free expression of religion.

When, at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the proceedings of the convention appeared to be in gridlock due to irreconcilable regional interests, Benjamin Franklin said the following: “in the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard; and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. …And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need its assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?”

What I am here suggesting is that the solution to our national crises, and there are many, is not in the cleverly devised programs of political leaders, or in the competency of those we elect, whatever political labels the wear. I do believe these are important issues which need the close scrutiny of concerned citizens as they make voting choices, but just as the Revolution depended upon “…a superintending Providence,” the solutions to our current crises depend upon that same Providence more than the wisdom and competence of mankind.

In the short term we may not be able to reverse the anti-religious trends in government. But so far no one has challenged our Constitution right to pray to the God who superintends in the outcome of human affairs.

I believe the solution is and always has been in the prayers of the American people; people who are concerned and well informed on the issues, who will ask God to raise up leaders who recognize their utter dependence on Him for the success of everything they do and for the survival of America as the shining standard of liberty in a hostile world.

I strongly urge all God-fearing Americans to pray urgently and often for His superintending power to restore our nation to its founding principles, and to the recognition of its utter dependence on divine Providence. This is the path to true freedom and justice for all.

Robert C. Wilson is a veteran of the U.S. Army with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a M.S. in Business. His writings are posted at Please email your comments to

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