Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, 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, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the 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, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that of New England." For 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 by-word 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 till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.
-Governor John Winthrop, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630, A Model of Christian Charity.
This country, it has been said, was founded on a great experiment. It wasn't just enshrining certain political science theories into a constitution, it was the idea that this was a "New World." America was to be more than a "land of opportunity" it was to become a place to give yourself a second chance because anything was possible. It was also a place where grand social and religious experiments would take place repeatedly, flourishing in the new found freedom of religion and the dream of creating a ideal, a utopia, or as John Winthrop put it a City on a Hill.
I have no idea of the geographical layout of Newtown, Connecticut, but the eyes of world are upon it. We marvel at the horror and how a small New England town is coping with such devastating events. Even those who survived must relive the nightmare, hearing the school PA system cruelly broadcast the entire shooting throughout the school in their heads night after night. The twin sister who was spared because she was assigned to a different class than her brother that year.
We can and we must begin again. Otherwise, their sacrifice will have been wasted. The American Experiment is a constantly evolving, dynamo that turn on a dime when great leaders lead. Will Obama lead us to truly change our ways? Can we make Newtown a new town and renew other cities and towns across this country?
If we work together we can make this a beacon of hope once more rather than cower in fear when we drop our children off at school. "For this end, 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." Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and atheists alike must band together in order to tackle not only the might of the NRA, but also the troubling culture of violence that is all around us and our prior unwillingness to address tough problems, including mental heath. Since we all believe in the Idea of America, we should be able to accomplish this tasks if we set our minds and hearts to it.