I recently ran across an archived article from Hillsdale College, written by its President, Larry P. Arnn. Hillsdale is a Liberal Arts College, founded on two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.
Hillsdale is an exceptional institution of learning as one can attest by reading its mission statement: Founded in 1844 by men and women “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings” resulting from civil and religious liberty and “believing that the diffusion of learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings", it pursues the stated object of the founders: “to furnish all persons who wish, irrespective of nation, color, or sex, a literary and scientific education” [that is] outstanding among American colleges “and to combine with this such moral and social instruction as will best develop the minds and improve the hearts of its pupils.”
The College considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law. Hillsdale College prepares students to become leaders worthy of that legacy, and by publicly defending that legacy, it enlists the aid of other friends of free civilization and thus secures the conditions of its own survival and independence.
As you can see, this College seeks to teach this nation's founding principles of freedom, self-government, and the pursuit of virtuous leadership -- without relying on partisan funding. Needless to say, its goals are not shared by too many other college across the land.
But it was the December 2012 interview with Hillsdale's President Arnn that sparked some interesting historical comparisons of our nation's history. The title of the article was Time To Give Up, Or Time To Fight On? It was written right as the nation was coming to terms with the results of the 2012 Presidential election. At the time, it was quite clear that the nation was becoming divided; especially in terms of political ideologies. The gap between Conservative and Liberal, Right and Left, Socialist and Capitalist, Big-Government entitlement programs and Small-Government policies never seemed greater. The ensuing years have done nothing to alleviate that chasm. (And now the latest news is that there seems to be a real fight within the Republican party to determine if the House of Representatives is going to really represent the people of America, or continue with "business as usual".) Is it possible that we might actually be seeing the dawn of a new era, and a return to our true national roots as a republic?
Yet the warning that President Arnn issued back in 2012 against those who might be looking to retreat from the political arena still holds true today. He cautioned against those who might think we have passed the point of no return. He pointed out then -- and it is ever more vital today -- "that the cost of [retreating] is overwhelming. If you don’t live under good laws, life becomes shortened and less happy, injustice becomes customary, civilization is compromised. And one cannot acquiesce to that. One has to be involved. And since politics is natural to us—man is essentially political, as Aristotle says—and since we do live in the greatest modern country—founded that way at least—we owe it a lot. And many of the people who have seen the republic through to where we are today have gone through things that are worse than this."
Of course, we in modern Babylon -- we spoiled, soft, and selfish Americans in the 21st Century -- are likely to think that no one has had it as tough as us. But if we could quit thinking about ourselves for just a moment and focus on the future of our nation, we might realize that we need to stay in the fight.
Because it was what he said just a few short paragraphs later that has got me to thinking: "The country is still a house divided against itself, and that’s dangerous. But it doesn’t mean that there’s been a resolution. It means, in fact, the opposite: there is not a resolution. That resolution still has to be made, and the making of it lies ahead of us, and not behind us." He said that in 2012! How much more relevant is it today, just three short years later? We have seen new divisions that were merely hinted at when the last election was decided... division between the races; a division between the faithful and the secular; between Christians and Muslims; between the rich and poor; and a widening gap between the middle class and the elites. But does it spell the end of the republic? Are we past the point of no return?
So, I guess the question becomes this: will this generation of Americans [who face this century's threat against our inherent belief in individual rights and limited government], be up to the challenge or not? Will we retreat and submit to what looks like an insurmountable opponent, or will we remember that this nation has survived other attempts by enemies, both physical and spiritual, to conquer and divide us? And, perhaps an equally relevant question is, will our leadership rise to the occasion and the growing demand for change and accountability? Will they even give us a reason to vote?
I think we would do well to consider what Dr. Arnn proffers as a valuable historic lesson from Winston Churchill. When Great Britain appeared to stand alone against the onslaught of Hitler's evil Nazi regime, Prime Minister Churchill still believed he could win. In fact, he believed free men were morally obliged to believe they could defeat evil, and to go down fighting, if necessary. Do we still "hold that truth to be self-evident" within our American DNA? They did at Bunker Hill and Concord; and on the battlefields at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Shiloh, and Antietam. Those Americans felt this republic was worth fighting for. Now, we find ourselves on the world stage in our hour of crisis. What will it be? Retreat and let this nation further divide -- or fight to maintain our original purpose, and rely on the Providence of Almighty God to bring forth a worthy leader to keep this land a little longer for His Glory? It's time to make your decision.
Psalm 77:11 "But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago."