The spectacle of Mexican armed forces disarming American soldiers on U.S. soil demonstrates the folly of forgetting the Constitution’s imperative decree affecting the purpose of the Armed Forces of the United States:
The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect them against invasion; …
Since World War II, our role in world events has induced many Americans, including many of our politicians and military leaders, to think of our military primarily in terms of foreign expeditions. These purblind worldlings harrumphed mightily when the president dared to deploy National Guard personnel to reinforce security along our borders. Apparently, they think even the forces organized, pursuant to the Second Amendment, to assure the security of our freedom as a self-governing people, should now be used mainly for foreign interventions.
For much of my lifetime, our post-WWII economic and military preeminence allowed them the luxury of indulging this stupid notion. The 9/11 terrorist attacks should have roused them from that stupor. The perpetrators of those attacks chose targets that represented all the components of our wherewithal as a free people, including the building that is the operative symbol of our self-government. Those attacks were the beginning of a sustained assault on our national existence, an assault that has kept us in a perpetual state of war, whether we admit it or not.
As we ponder this fact, we need to keep in mind that the state of war is not simply, or even necessarily, a matter of armed conflict. As the English thinker Thomas Hobbes wrote:
… war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. (Leviathan, Part I, ch. XIII)
In the world at present, we have good reason to know that a plethora of nations, groups and individuals are disposed to fight against the existence and sovereignty of the people of the United States. These adversaries include nations who envy our economic success or resent the proof we offer that lasting government – of, by and for the people – opens reservoirs of human potential untapped before in human history. They include individuals, at home and abroad, who deeply reject the premises of God-endowed right, including liberty. Those premises have been the basis for our commitment, as a people, to do justice (even though it required breaking down highly resistant institutions of injustice and inhuman bigotry) for God’s sake, and despite the contrary inclinations of our own deep-seated passions and selfish interests.
For decades in the mid to late 20th century, our reputation for power helped to counteract the disposition to war against us. But in the meanwhile, that disposition armed itself with resources rooted in new technologies on which we ourselves have become dependent. It devised and pursued stratagems that exploited existing resentments, while at the same time seeding oncoming generations of America’s with doubt and hatred against their nation.
To lure young Americans away from their true identity – rooted in respect for God-endowed humanity – the orchestrators of war against America deployed the shibboleth of “global citizenship” – profanely rooted in the ignis fatuus of transhuman self-apotheosis. They appealed to the innate decency (encoded in us by God’s design) that longs to save and improve upon the world. But the project of destructive self-idolization wars against the intrinsic understanding of individual self-government and self-restraint that acknowledges and embraces the responsible vocation of human personality. This interferes with the goodwill that calls upon us to wield our share of God’s creative power in the world, with due respect for the bonds and limitations that allow for its existence and our own.
Here we see a hint of the reason orchestrators of war against the United States seek strenuously to discourage young people from reading the Bible. For the root of their indoctrination in “global citizenship” repeats the Serpent’s superfluous prediction to Eve, in the Garden of Eden, that if she transgressed the instruction of God, then “you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” Given the knowledge God has subsequently shared with us about ourselves, it takes but a little thought to realize what Eve should have responded, “But we are already made in the image and likeness of God – evil is no good to us.”
But Eve did not know. And in our day, neither do the young Americans who have fallen prey to the gospel of evil preached by those who posit the self-sufficiency of human knowledge. Alas, they do so despite the fact that the one thing our understanding cannot know on its own is the being beyond existence that informs all things (including us), seeing them as they will be before they come into existence.
This informative being is the substance of all existence, apart from which it neither is, nor does it contain, anything at all. Transcend the existence it implies for us, and we step into that void, surrendering what we are in exchange for …
As Gertrude Stein observed, “There is no ‘there‘ there.” We should ponder this as we consider the slogan in the mouths of those who make war against our borders – the actual and symbolic lines that define our existence as a nation – “No borders; no wall; no USA at all.” We should think of it as they demand we topple the monuments they call evil, but which include the preeminent founders of our country, whose thoughtful provisions for our polity shaped the institutions that, by God’s Providence, preserved our decent sense of right and rights, including liberty.
With our borders erased, our monuments toppled and our vision as a people focused on horizons bereft of God-endowed humanity, the war against our nation will have achieved its aim. Sadly, no one will remain who wonders why we let it go without taking a stand, persisting in our neglect even when it became clear that the threat we face targets our very existence as a people. But since what we stand for is the endowment of humanity in God’s goodwill, the target is really humanity itself – along with the understanding of the universe that especially allows for human existence.
Under the false guise of “global citizenship” those who envisage our destruction now encourage us to forget our nation’s inherent identification with humanity, this despite the fact that it accounts for all the most brilliant victories of our history. So long as we remembered that identity, we never lacked the courage and moral will to defend the world against the greatest evils in human history. Now that we are forgetting it, we are forgetting even to defend ourselves. This moral failure is presently our greatest vulnerability.
For without the hunger and thirst for justice that nourishes truly moral will, even the readiest, best-armed forces in the world are liable to fall idly by – succumbing to assaults that whistle past them, as the things of the Spirit often do, like the wind. This is not a failure of arms. It is a failure to remember the purposes of God and act confidently in the ways they authorize us to pursue.