Our enduring values

Like many Americans, while I am sympathetic to the desire of legitimate protestors to improve our nation, I have watched with horror as anti-American lawbreakers have seized the moment to deface and destroy beloved symbols of our nation. I have further been demoralized by the impotent and muted response by mayors, governors, and other civic and government leaders. It strikes me that many of these so-called leaders have forgotten the ideas we, as Americans, have mutually supported over the past two centuries.

While it is simplistic to say that ALL Americans share the same values, there has historically been a recognizable group of core beliefs that citizens of varied backgrounds have embraced. First among these ideas is a belief in an enduring moral order. As a nation, we have believed that human nature is constant and that moral truth is permanent. We have traditionally sought to address our fallen human nature through vigorous participation in the churches of our choosing. Knowing that people are imperfect and that a tendency toward sin may lead to tyranny, we have established a unique Constitution that limits the power of government rather than the individual citizen. Finally, we have taught our children that right and wrong are objective concepts and we have sought to inculcate an understanding of these ideas through our own example.

Second, as Americans we have tended to favor custom and convention or, as Abraham Lincoln once stated, “the old and tried over the new and untried.” We have favored these against the rash tendency of radicals to equate change with improvement. We have understood that continuity from age to age is important if we are to fully know ourselves.

Finally, Americans have tended to favor the virtue of prudence both in their personal lives and in government. Americans have tended to take what Russell Kirk called the “long view.” We have measured things not by their temporary or passing popularity but rather according to their long-range implications. By this virtue we have avoided the violence and upheaval of revolution.

Again, I am troubled by the violence and destruction I have seen recently across our nation. Those who are calling for justice should bear in mind that justice is impossible without order, as order is the first need of all. As peace and harmony are reestablished, it would behoove all Americans to remember those common beliefs that have served as a foundation for American greatness.

Kevin Ritter

Washington County Commissioner


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