Accepting a volatility of mood, the positive excitement attending the new year must not be lost on the spirit of this country. From 1/1/02 on, the mission of America is to refine, if not redefine, its identity both domestically and globally. This self-examination invites peril as well as progress. Bearing the sobriquet of the world's lone superpower has introduced more than a little ambiguity to the understanding of the role and of the impact of American culture on the other resident countries of this planet. Is the United States expected to redress every act of injustice perpetrated in any location throughout the world? If not to such an extent as that, then what? How free will America be in the future? How free dare it be? In the seventeenth century, Thomas Hobbes' book The Leviathan opined that, in the interest of security, the individual must be willing to forego unrestrained liberty and accept only that degree of liberty that each person could share. Thus, the State could exist. External forces may determine the character of American freedom in this young century.
The current moral atmosphere has drawn closer together the political interests and the spiritual principles upon which America was founded . This confluence of the policies of human relations and the dogma of God-centered morality is fashioning a new understanding of American integrity. It is in the clear and consistent application of the principles-declared to be the American way of life-that the nations of the world will observe America and by which they will draw their conclusions.
If the peoples of the world can discern and trust the noble intent of the United States as it operates upon the world stage, the case for Human Rights as well as other justice issues will be made more effectively.
The possibilities inherent in a new understanding of the identity and the integrity of the America of 2002 revealed itself in the recent deliberations of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. The issue of the great struggles endured by many of the peoples of Africa became a major topic for consideration. The Church has been called to develop a plan of action regarding the desperate straits of that continent. The fact that 30% of the world's refugees are in Africa and that 300 million people live on one dollar a day cries out to the prosperous nations for help in finding the answers to these tragic realities. The state of affairs in Africa becomes more telling when one considers that these conditions are those in which the terrorism being fought today finds fertile soil.
The tasks ahead need not be deemed overwhelming. Before the dust of battle clears, the America of the new millennium must establish itself as the leader in discerning and implementing a way to salvation for those countries experiencing extremes in human need. The spiritual tone of the previous statement is intended. Solutions require a fundamental, irrevocable belief in the sacredness of human life. A dogma such as this bases the motivation for maintaining human rights on something far beyond national interests. It is here that the churches must strengthen the dedication of the political leadership. The tree of faith sinks the deepest roots.
The answer to whether or not America is to be the great, God-inspired hope of the world remains in the future. Certain factions in this world see America as the Great Infidel worthy of nothing short of complete extermination. There were many in Afghanistan who were at a loss to understand why America was bombing them--until they were shown the devastation of September 11, 2001. Precious little of the character and the creed of the American people is known by the populations of the world. 1/1/02 must mark the beginning of a true soul-searching by all Americans resulting in the promotion of what is righteous in the American people and in what is just in the policies of this great and powerful nation.
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