Some people scoff at the idea of "New Year's Resolutions." They say it's silly to wait until one particular day to start journaling, or they point out that the most resolute New Year's treadmill-users find themselves hanging clothes on the equipment by Valentine's Day. They may be right.
So I propose to America a new type of New Year's Resolution-making. I propose that we use this first week of a brand-new year to take stock of where we are as a nation and as a culture. I propose that we consider how each of us, individually, and all of us, collectively, along with our social and governmental institutions, can press closer toward virtue.
If a nation can make New Year's Resolutions, here are five I submit for America:
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- Let's reunite, as a people, under foundational values the vast majority of us still share.As 2018 dawns, there is so much to disagree about. Politicians and their parties often home in on our sharpest, least reconcilable differences, in the interest of providing voters with a clear choice at the ballot box – or demonizing their opponents. The media thrive on strife, controversy, and scandal.
But I believe there is much common ground to be found among Americans of every political, ethnic and religious stripe. We all want to build a better future for our children. We all believe that every person is endowed with the basic freedom to pursue his or her own life goals and to be free from government-imposed obstacles while doing so. The vast majority of us celebrate industry and creativity and recognize that they are the key to economic success.
These are just a few of the virtually universal values that once made America strong and can unite us and strengthen us again. We should use them, whenever possible, as a stepping-off point for working together to tackle the challenges that confront us.
- Let's reaffirm our national commitment to religious liberty.A robust commitment to religious freedom was once one of those values that united us, and we should strive to get back there again. I believe this is possible, because when we take the time to really understand the vision for religious liberty cast in the Bill of Rights, we come to understand that it benefits everyone and is consistent with both conservative and liberal ideologies.
The touchstone of liberty is freedom from coercion and compulsion. So if Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop can be coerced to bake a cake that celebrates an act his faith condemns, he cannot be said to enjoy religious liberty. The Supreme Court should rule accordingly when it issues its decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and ensure that America remains a beacon of freedom for generations to come.
- Let's restore a culture that upholds high standards of decency.The repeated revelations of sexual harassment and abuse that littered 2017 are proof positive that living in an anything-goes, sex-saturated culture doesn't make us more "free" or enlightened—it makes us barbaric and dirty. It emboldens the powerful sex-obsessed and creates victims of the women who must interact with them in the workplace. By desensitizing our children to sex, it also conditions them to become part of this self-perpetuating cycle.
We've figured out that smoking is toxic. Haven't we also finally figured out that when sex is everywhere we look or listen – sex without boundaries – it becomes toxic to our culture?
- Let's use our state governments to check the power of Washington.We all know that our federal government has become a monster. For way too long, no matter which party is in control, it has been gobbling up our money, our freedom … and our will to do anything about it. But there is something we can do. We can unite our state legislatures to use their power under Article V of the Constitution to meet and propose much-needed constitutional reforms that will restore the proper balance of power between Washington and the states. (Visit www.conventionofstates.com to learn more).
- Let's pray for a spiritual awakening.We live in frightening, frustrating times. It's all too easy to heed the temptation to simply put our heads down and work toward our own personal comfort and pleasure. Let's pray that our Creator – the one who endowed each of us with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – will rekindle in us all an appreciation of Beauty, a love of Truth and a commitment to Goodness.