My mind is still not fully able to accept that we live in a country where communists and Nazis are fighting in the streets. But it is the reality, whether I will accept it or not. Just as it is a reality that our nation has been plagued by riots and violent demonstrations for years now.
Many people seem to think we’re on the brink of another Civil War. Could we have a Civil War and a World War at the same time? I doubt it, but it’s not the craziest thing to worry about. I am not one to panic over North Korea — I don’t think they could hit our country or any of our territories with a nuclear weapon before the missile was intercepted and Pyongyang was turned to dust — but I recognize that even a failed attempt could set WWIII in motion. And we still have ISIS, tensions with Russia, and many other other global powder kegs to worry about. The entire planet seems like it is teetering toward calamity. The situation on the home front does not feel any more stable.
We are divided as a people. I’d say we’re even more divided now than we were during the run up to the (first?) Civil War. At least back then the two sides had some very fundamental things in common. They believed in God, they loved their families, they cared about virtue and valor.
These days, you can’t get a consensus on anything. Forget about living in two separate countries — we’re living in two separate universes. Hundreds of different universes, really. I have little in common with a modern leftist, but I have even less in common with an alt-right neo-Nazi. Who is on my side? I don’t even know anymore. We’re all strangers to each other. Even as men met on the battlefield in 1862 and visited horrific violence upon on another, there existed a mutual respect, a sense of honor, and similarity. We have no respect for one another. We laugh at the concept of honor. We laugh at all that is good and decent. We laugh at each other. We hate each other. That seems to be the only thing we have in common.
Will this environment give way to war? Probably not, but only because there are too many sides, and the factions aren’t separated by any geographic boundary. Instead we’ll get these sporadic flare ups of rioting and chaos, and the incidents will get more common and more severe. A war would almost be preferable. At least it would have an end. But I do not see the end to our current situation. We will remain divided, broken into a million pieces, and the chasms between us will deepen by the day.
Meanwhile, and not unrelated, our culture continues to decay. I need not provide a recap on that front. The institution of the family is falling apart. Our children are murdered in abortion clinics and exploited by sexual deviants practically as soon as they emerge from the womb, if they are so lucky as to emerge at all. Many Americans have descended into full blown madness, as they run around insisting that men are getting pregnant and women are growing penises. We sit around watching TV and playing on the internet for 10 hours a day, unwilling to turn the screens off for long enough to share a meal as a family. Our kids are porn addicts by the age of 10. And so on and so on.
I look at all of these factors together, and I get the same feeling that almost everyone else seems to have: that something bad is going to happen. And what makes this feeling even more intense, and catastrophe seem even more inevitable, is that we are not turning to God to save us — and so He won’t. We are a shallow, nihilistic, self-absorbed people. We look within ourselves for the answers, and all we find is more confusion. We deserve catastrophe. We have been begging for God’s judgment, and now, perhaps, it is upon us.
America survived two wars with Britain, the Civil War, the Depression, two world wars, and the Cold War, but it only did so with the blessings of God. We were a religious people in those times. We cried out to God to deliver us, to heal us, and He did because He knew that we had so much to give to the world. God would not allow a freedom-loving, God-fearing, devout people to perish from the Earth. We came to him in prayer, and He responded.
But today we do not come to Him. We deny Him. We may remember him at the candlelight vigils, but we return quickly to our materialistic, self-focused little worlds. Will God answer petitions that are not made? Will He perform a miracle for a people who do not believe Him capable of them? I have no confidence in such an outcome. Besides, what are we giving to the world that God would save us so that we may keep giving it? We export abortions, porn, birth control, and weaponry. Oh, and superhero films. Well, we have that at least. But is that enough to make us a moral beacon on a hill? I don’t think so. How can we be a light of truth and faith keeping the world together when we can’t even keep our own families together?
Truly, this verse in the book of James was written for us:
You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
What is the answer, then? Well, I think our only hope is a spiritual reawakening. “Knock and it will be opened.” We must knock on the door again. If history has taught us anything, it’s that godless, self-absorbed, nihilistic civilizations do not survive. So we must turn back from that. We must turn to God. We must be good, decent people again. And that means individually. We have to stop thinking collectively. We have to stop asking, “What can we all do, all 330 million of us, to solve this problem?” We can’t do anything together. 330 million people aren’t going to act in tandem. We aren’t one organism. We are individual parts. And the individual parts must concern themselves with the things they can control and change.
What does that mean? Tend to your family. Raise your kids. Love your wives and your husbands. Go to church. Get on your knees at night and pray. Preach the Gospel. Live the Gospel. There is no hope for us until we can look around and see that this is how most of the people in our country live. Right now, such people are an anomaly. They are the exception to the rule. Will God preserve a nation for its exceptions? I think He is more likely to preserve one that is exceptional. And we can only be exceptional if each of us works towards becoming that kind of exceptional, Godly person.
One of the problems with living in this age of information and communication is that we think of things on such a grand, universal scale. We know everything that’s happening in the world, and we concern ourselves with all of it, while the things we can control — the things that are in our sphere of influence, our domain — we neglect. I had this thought the other day when I was on my phone arguing with someone on Facebook about the best response to North Korea. My son came up to me, rudely interrupting my pointless discussion with another Facebook account, and asked to throw the ball around. “Not right now,” I said. “I’m busy.”
It took me a few moments before I stopped and thought to myself, “Wow. I just brushed my kid aside so I could yell at a stranger on the internet about a problem I know little about and can’t solve.” I put the phone down. “OK, buddy. I’m sorry. Let’s go play.”
I’m not saying I can save the country by throwing a football with my boy. But it’s a start. Maybe if those guys in Charlottesville had dads who played football with them, they wouldn’t have ended up marching down the street carrying tiki torches and Nazi flags. Who knows? Maybe if church attendance were 30 percent higher, the divorce rate 30 percent lower, maybe if we prayed a little more, maybe if we spent a little less time staring at screens and a little more time talking to our children and our spouses, maybe if we were better people — better Christians, better parents, better husbands, better wives, better neighbors — maybe things wouldn’t be how they are.
A society where everyone prioritizes their own families, a society where people are concerned with strengthening their own faith, with being good, virtuous people in an active and every day sort of way, is, if not a fail-proof society, at least one worth saving. One that God may look to and say, “The world needs this.” We are not that sort of society. Our only chance is to become it.
Can we realistically save ourselves from the brink of disaster and suddenly transform from a heathen culture to the one I have just described? I don’t know. It seems unlikely. But it is our hope, anyway. Our only hope. The only answer. I cannot think of any other.
To see more from Matt Walsh, visit his channel on TheBlaze.