Who Are We, Anyway?

There is much huffing and puffing on all sides these days about the federal budget and the national debt.

Certainly, our level of debt is cause for concern. And a continuing conversation about the role of government is a good thing.

But frankly, neither is the main thing. There is a bigger question of which these two concerns are each part, but neither (alone or together) is the whole. We need conversation, but this larger one is not one that I see many folks having these days.

That conversation focuses on this central question: what kind of nation do we want to be?

We are more than our debt. We are more than our government. We are more than our economy.

I am a communitarian. I admit it. I believe the good of the whole is of central importance, even as I uphold certain inalienable rights for each of us. I do not believe individual rights are safe if the whole is not healthy. I am not sure where I first got that idea, but in 60+ years of life and study it has been reaffirmed time and again. It has its roots in American history, as well as my relationship with God.

Further, I make no bones about my general attitude that the good of the whole requires attention to, and care for, those at the margins. I come by this attitude honestly: it is how I read the Bible and how I understand the teachings of Jesus. Others read the same book and hear the same teachings and come to different conclusions. And others don’t care at all about any of these texts.

So, I want us to talk a lot more about what kind of nation we want to be, what kind we feel called to be, because I must say that a lot is happening these days–and not just due to Republicans–that is causing me deep concern.

Who are we, anyway? Who are we supposed to be?

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