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Below is the introductory essay from the July/August 2012 cover feature "America in Action: This Is Who We Are." The feature includes nine inspiring stories and ideas that can, if we emulate them, change our world.
Many on the Right have been pushing to get the government out of the charity business—but until we step up, the government won’t step back. These powerful stories and ideas should inspire a nation to put our beliefs into practice.
America: The city on a hill. The last best hope of earth. Exceptional.
We know that’s who we were created to be. What has happened to us? What have we allowed ourselves to become?
City and state governments have decided to take over the role of “brother’s keeper,” going so far as to outlaw the feeding of the homeless by non-approved organizations or individuals. But they’re ineffective and inefficient.
Families in America are broken.
Students across the nation are dealing with violence and immorality in their schools and neighborhoods. They’re looking for mentors and guidance—and they’ll go to whoever shows them some form of leadership and belonging.
Kids with disabilities are cast aside—if they’re even allowed to be born. The elite and their like-minded supporters have decided that people with disabilities can’t contribute and don’t merit their care or attention.
Communities have fallen into chaos and ruin waiting for the government to step in and fix things—from disasters to redevelopment. But a woefully inept bureaucracy has predictably failed.
Civility seems to have been thrown out the window as we see more and more people choosing to rip one another to shreds online.
We all know we’re better than this. So how do we fix it? Where do we start?
We begin by telling our burgeoning government we’re taking back our families and neighborhoods, our schools and children, our duty to care for others. We have to live in the knowledge that we are better when we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves and that we each have an individual responsibility to act, to help, to change our situation. We don’t need our government to tell us how to be good neighbors—every one of us already knows how.
It’s really all about loving each other.
The Scriptures tell us that of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love. But being a Bible-believing Christian isn’t necessary for understanding the power of love and the fact that love without action isn’t love.
It’s not enough just so say that we love and want to help others. Instinctively, each of us knows that we don’t have to be told when others love us. When they do love us, we’ll know that they did so. And when they don’t, we’ll recognize that, too.
It’s time we put our belief of love and charity into action. Until we do, the government will continue its claim on our business of caring for others—and rightfully so, because no one will believe our claims of charity until they experience our acts of charity.
To paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi: Teach charity at all times; if necessary, use words.
These stories of inspiration ought to spur us to action and cause us to remember that this is who we are.