GUEST COLUMN: Book aims to offer strategy to restore a divided America
In American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation, my co‐author, Craig Osten and I, write that America is at a crossroads. Neighbor is pitted against neighbor. The growth of social media has inflamed the worst instincts in people. We write, “As a nation, we have divided ourselves into ‘red’ and ‘blue’ camps that bicker at each other like two elderly men playing checkers in the park.”
Yet, despite our present state of national discord, as a native of Fort Wayne, and Midwesterner, I am hopeful about the future of our great nation. What provides me with such hope? Craig and I see that hope in the “little platoons” – ordinary people doing extraordinary things – in their homes, neighborhoods, churches, and communities. We see this hope in the infertile couple who choose to adopt six foster children and raise them as their own. We see this hope in the furniture store owner who allows displaced hurricane victims to sleep in the new beds on his showroom floor that he was hoping to sell. And we see this hope in churches that minister to special needs children and their parents through unconditional love and service – demonstrating that all life is valuable and to be celebrated.
Craig and I also realize from our years of experience working in ministry and public policy that hearts are not going to be changed through anger, yelling at people, or stooping down to the levels of those who engage in personal attacks. We must rise above that, we must engage in a winsome and thoughtful manner that treats all, including those with whom we may strongly disagree, with the utmost dignity and respect.
This engagement also starts in our homes and must also be done on a daily basis. If we are to restore the foundations of faith, family, and personal sacrifice, we must start anew instilling these values inside our homes if we are to influence those outside our homes.
Finally, restoration will come through providing people with a higher purpose for their lives beyond the self‐gratification that presently rules so much of our culture. That purpose is found through faith, which takes the focus off of self and enables us to put the needs of others before our own. This purpose cannot be found in government, which deals with symptoms, and provides the wrong prescription for curing our present societal maladies. The right prescription begins with curing the holes in our souls and demonstrating love, grace, and charity to those so desperately seeking it.
That is why Craig and I wrote the book. If the America that Ronald Reagan described as “a shining city on a hill” for all to see is to be restored, that restoration must first begin with us. It will not occur if we withdraw into our caves, or just engage with our like‐minded “tribe,” but by building bridges to, rather than burning bridges with, those with whom we disagree. Restoration will occur if we put down the remote, we go outside, we talk to our neighbors and get to know them as people, much like we did in the neighborhoods that Craig and I grew up in several decades ago. Restoration will occur if our churches open their doors beyond Sunday morning and minister to those in need and encourage active community rather than passive attendance. And finally, restoration will occur if we live a life that displays hope, rather than cowers in fear.
We are seeing this happen through the “little platoons” I mentioned earlier – people who have chosen to live beyond themselves and instead live for others. That is what provides Craig and I with the hope that American restoration not only is possible, but probable, even when we are seemingly trapped in endless darkness. Instead of anger, we see a day when that illustration of two elderly men bickering at each other while playing checkers in the park, ends with them shaking hands at the end of the game, choosing to be friends rather than opponents. That is restoration, and that is the hope we have for our nation.
American Restoration is available at https://www.regnery.com/books/american-restoration-how-faith-family-and-personal-sacrifice-can-heal-our-nation/ and www.amazon.com
— Tim Goeglein is a former Fort Wayne resident, served as deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison under President George W. Bush and is now a vice president for Focus on the Family.