I can’t say that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tells the truth. But I will say that now and then “the truth will out,” even from someone whose factional blinders prevent them from applying the name of truth to anything that does not serve their ideological dictatorship.
In an article published last month, I wrote about the speech in which Cuomo roused an audience of pro-abortion zealots to prepare against the day when SCOTUS’ fabricated constitutional right to abortion falls prey to the truth that “It’s not in the Constitution. …” As if to make sure people realize that it is utterly inconsistent with the premises of our nation’s existence, he adds, “And it’s not in the Bible, and it’s not by Divine decree. …”
Cuomo thus admits that the right to murder our nascent offspring in the womb rests solely on the whim of a few individuals. It therefore relies on whatever power of enforcement abortion advocates can muster by using the lust for freedom (or is it the freeing of lust?) to induce Americans to discard the premise of God-endowed right. That premise sustains liberty and justifies the assertion of human equality (because all human beings are equally obliged by God’s will to use the image of His freedom, reflected in human nature, to do right not wrong). Abandoning it, we abandon the seed of our existence as one people, great or small.
Now, in the same vein, comes Cuomo’s unintentionally revealing gloss on the Trump campaign slogan, :Make America Great Again.”
“We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great,” Cuomo said, to an awkward blend of gasps and chuckles.
Nothing in the context of that statement, or the pitiful attempts of his staff to put that bedraggled feline back in the litter box can mitigate the intended slur against every generation of Americans who ever lived. His words naturally invite people to list all the successes our nation has achieved in material terms – our military triumphs, our rise to economic dominance, our scientific and technological innovations, etc. But given our present crisis of self-confidence, many are likely to leave out the greatest success of all, which was our efforts to live up to the founding vision that our nation would uphold a hope of justice, that it might, eventually, inspire all humanity to throw off the lie that “might makes right” and instead take up the responsibility of doing right, not just for themselves but for the whole of humanity, the whole of God’s creation.
When the standard of God’s will sets the goal – as it does in the founding generation’s statement of America’s creed – it makes no sense to expect that one or many generations will achieve it. Given the infinite perfection of God, the best we can do is to hold on to His standard and strive for all we’re worth. By that measure of faithfulness, Americans in every generation met the test of greatness – especially when they failed and persisted nonetheless, even despite the fearful, deep conviction that the goal was beyond reaching.
When they wrote the Constitution, some leading lights of the founding generation seriously pondered that possibility. Because he foresaw the crisis slavery would inevitably bring on, Thomas Jefferson averred that “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Nor did it. But the moral consequences of that injustice met a rising tide of conscience that moved hearts on both sides of a great conflict to do arduous, bloody battle because of it. The elitist demagogues of our day profess ideologies that reject the basis for conscience, in principle. But people on both side of the Civil War bowed to the voice they thought was speaking for it. They did not think that “History” would judge them – for what happens in human history too often depends on power, without regard to right and justice. They looked, as Lincoln said, to God for judgment, living and dying in peril of the judgment that transcends human history, which no humanly contrived result necessarily reflects or alters.
I think that the Supreme Judge of the World weighed Americans in the balance. In our common sense that justice matters He found the key to praise the triumph of rightful liberty, and the mercy to reprieve those who mistook it’s meaning in God’s sight. The union survived the crisis, which many of the founding generation thought would extinguish our not yet fully self-conscious nation. Our people, growing in human diversity, moved on to what was always the loftier hope, the harder goal. It involved fabricating a nation with strands from all the nations of the earth. It meant awakening common humanity without extinguishing the many expressions through which God’s Spirit distributes the absolute oneness of his Being across a multitude of lights and shades. It respected a right of liberty that allows each one to contribute its distinctive note to the wholesome chorus of truth that resounds the inexhaustible plenitude of His Creation.
Lincoln saw the Union fatally threatened because it could not survive, half-slave and half-free. But as they exert themselves to forge distinctive parts into a whole, human individuals reveal new differences even as they strive together to be one. Since their oneness (for example, as many individual bodies) will never simply be extinguished, neither will their oneness (for example as Americans) ever simply triumph over all.
In creation, one is becoming a multitude of things, whose differences call for the tension that holds them all together. The willingness to live with that creative tension, forging and surrendering distinctiveness, all at once and all together – may be the distinct understanding humanity contributes to all the rest. God only knows! But when, as a people, we manifest that special human calling – to make one of many while respecting every one – are we not, to the best of our knowledge, reflecting the purpose of God in all creation?
If so, our true greatness lies in thus remembering His, not just by way of our inflated, material sense of pride, but in the still, small ways that cherish the invisible union of body and spirit, bound by God’s goodwill, that we specifically appear to be. It moves us to celebrate the life of His Creation in all its forms, including the elusive, barely visible conception of our own. By thus remembering the vocation of God for our species, do we not also remember our vocation as one nation, under God, whose greatness is our proven determination “to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield” the hope that when we finally reach the goal for which we labor, we will find ourselves at home?