After 9/11 in 2001, Americans united in response and purpose. Outrage and compassion were felt by all citizens for the harm inflicted upon the innocent. Even if briefly, there was overwhelming public consensus that the United States of America was worth defending. Americans were one in the face of our adversaries. The public gave President George W. Bush full and unequivocal support to eradicate organized terrorism found anywhere in the world, and particularly in their base of operations in Afghanistan.
Twenty years later, under siege by COVID viruses, divisions in American society are so great and deep that no unified resolve can be found to combat the crisis. Intractable philosophies exist in definition by most of the characteristics for which a society can be identified. Whether by race, gender, age, culture, religion, education, or income, concentric bonds have been broken. We are hopelessly divided on the Afghanistan experience, mask and vaccine mandates, government spending, abortion, states’ rights, climate change policy, immigration, critical race theory, and voting rights.
What happened to America in the past twenty years?
Part of the answer to the question posed is what happened in America the past twenty years. In 2001, Facebook did not exist. Social media was in its infancy. There was a worldwide web, but people didn’t spend four hours a day surfing it. Live streaming was a figment of a high-tech imagination.
Blogging and YouTube videos made everyone an expert. Individuals became their own best source of information. Fact checking was a discipline discarded as unnecessary.
When everyone is a leader and an expert in their own mind, there are no followers.
A society without respect for the continuity of historical leadership quickly becomes a ship of state without a rudder. A compass used as an instrument to keep the ship on a course of true north has no purpose when the principles of true north have devolved into a list of particulars without priority.
As political leaders lead through beguilement rather than truth of objective, the resulting failures compile to a point that the public loses all faith and trust in government institutions. At the founding of our great nation, citizens trusted their government leaders to do the right thing. Leaders trusted the citizens to be involved in the moral decisions of government. Now, just the opposite is true. Government leaders do not trust the citizens to handle the truth. Citizens know the government is not telling them the whole truth.
For the first time in the history of the United States, there is a sea change disconnect between the generations. Up to and through World War II, every generation was tied in part to the previous generation in historical perspective. Yes, even though the Baby Boomers were the generation that spawned the anti-war revolution of the 1960s, it is the generation today that still supports America’s role in the world.
Baby Boomers may be the first generation in aggregate to leave their children less in material position than they received from their parents. Yet younger generations represented by Millennials, Gen-X, Gen-Y, and Gen-Z have known privilege without group pressure. They do not relate to any economic challenge similar to previous generations. The appeal of fraternities and sororities has been that each pledge class experienced tasks required to become members of the order. The trial of the challenge unified the group as they bonded in the experience. By completing the ritual of pledgeship, they had faced a pressure together successfully. Further, they were then bound to upper classmen who had also experienced and completed the same task.
Similar pressures faced by generations give meaning to membership in society. Without such challenges, ties to previous generations are lost.
U.S. citizens 60 years of age and over are aware of and connected to the past history of America. Citizens 46-59 are in transitional split with ties to the past and traditional foundational doctrines. Citizens under 45 relate to present existence without reliance upon the past for future structure or societal design. They are the generation of new reformed consciousness. Therefore, they tend to not rely upon anything but the present as it currently exists.
Of course, no generation is strictly defined by any of these terms. Diversification in political attributes exists among any three people, let alone a generation. But the case stands on its own evidence that fewer and fewer people born after 1976 believe in religion, traditional values, a moral definition of family, and America’s role in the world. Their emotional ties to the past are less determinative for future moral decisions than in previous generations.
What then does this mean for future foreign conflicts?
The main threats to the United States way of life are socialism and communism. China has every intention of dominating the world economically pursuant to their government structure and cultural values. The next war will not be fought over the domination of land. China has no intention of occupying Indianapolis. But they do intend to dictate the economy of Indiana and what jobs its citizens will be given. China’s geopolitical intent is the new colonialism of the 21st century. If we do not understand generationally the terms of communism in their cost to freedom, we cannot make the decision as a society to reject its tenets for the defense of freedom.
America must now go through its own reformation. In so doing, it must determine what is at the center of its culture. There are only three options to be considered for this commitment: God, a king, or government. Blood lines of ethnicity are required to choose a king. The British, the French, the Germans, the Spanish, and the Russians have all tried the path of a king, an emperor or a czar with mixed results. The importance of God in their cultures is the subject of debate among critics. Their history of ethnic nationality has played an important role in their societies. The Chinese have turned to communism and a government-centered culture. Their freedom is limited and always on the threshold of sacrifice.
The United States now has a choice for Reformation to find a new ethos. America declared independence from a king. Without ethnic national blood lines, a king cannot be the center of American society. Of course, America would never choose a king anyway. Communism is not an option, for it cannot exist and govern in compatibility with freedom. Therefore, the United States is left with the option declared by its founding declarations in 1776 that God is sovereign over man, and man is sovereign over government.
Americans must decide on the standards of freedom they expect. A government-centered ethos can only bring loss of freedom and dictate uniformity of beliefs resulting in totalitarianism. Citizens need not ask themselves if they are Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, intellect or traditionalist. They only need to ask themselves in what do they trust: the omniscience of God or man?
This Reformation will come by natural progression. It is unavoidable. If left to its own means by forces of nature, government will be the resulting center of our culture by default. In addressing the reality of the American divisional sea change, the opportunity exists to take charge of the process for determining a new American ethos. Declaring the recommitment to freedom, which can only constitute the recognition that inalienable rights are granted by God, ties us to the founding of our country…
And binds the generations in purpose of existence.
My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.
What do you believe?