By Hakim Hazim
The Founding Fathers mulled over various approaches to governing before establishing the viscous of our nation. When they framed our constitution, they did so with care, deliberation, and foresight. Luke 7:35 states, “…Wisdom is justified by its works.” We see the fruit of their work enduring in this great nation. Believing that axioms, self-evident truths, would remain relevant in people’s judgment and conduct, they constructed a new approach for future governance. They factored in various aspects of human nature – paying careful attention to the morally corrosive nature of unchecked power. To guard against this, they instituted three branches of government, along with a free press, and empowered citizenry. America was not just a place; our nation gave birth to an inspiring idea that people, collectively and individually, could, despite their differences, flourish. Leaders trusted the collective will of the people over tyrants, and the people trusted their leaders. This powerful, fragile, dream gave birth to revolution. We became a shining light, a place in which people armed with aspirations, gifts, work ethic, and morals, could come and start afresh. Now, America’s promise is in peril. Our leaders have failed us. Today many feel a sense of angst, and powerlessness – believing they no longer matter. They are waiting on a new movement or political figure to arrive on the scene and change the direction we are headed. That direction is likely void of godly principles, logic, and critical thinking.
America has always been imperfect and flawed, but the dream has remained and carried us. Today, there are many fault lines and a massive fissuring taking place. Cynicism about the other is systematically being fed to us and replacing “we the people.” (The other, are those who don’t agree with us.) Despite this, my optimism springs from my forbearer’s history in this country. I recall the salient imagery of my ancestors crossing the North Atlantic under some of harshest and most inhumane circumstances ever thrusted upon a people. People deprived of the very things America supposedly stood for helped build the American Dream for others, while being subjected to centuries of nightmares. We were excluded; yet, we longed and labored for our piece of the promise. Generations of our leaders fought for the futures of their children, bearing patiently the injustices of our nation, while keeping a long-term view in mind. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., understood the landscape. He employed godly principles, strategic logic, and critical thinking to arouse a nation’s conscience. He knew that the legal system, religious institutions, and scientific community, had long agreed upon our inferior status. As a Christian, I marvel at Dr. King’s use of spiritual values. He shattered those racist perceptions, while unifying a nation. King understood and trusted that the original idea was good, but it needed to be fully implemented for all. He was grateful to be an American, because the dream, though delayed, proved true.
America, from its inception, was a collaborative effort in which the founders considered history, philosophy, principles of governing, and the passions of the people when they decided to wrest power and their future from British tyranny. They rightly placed their faith in God and the people. Today, we are returning to the old, divisive politics of exclusion. We are returning to a tribalism that shuns those we don’t agree with and critical thinking about issues. We see politicians on both sides utilizing strawmen arguments, victimizing victims, ranting about selective prosecution when justice is at work against them, and not shockingly, debating when a baby can be terminated. Missing from these discussions is our voice. We matter, and a great deal more than we think.
I am challenging you to step forward and get involved in your community and political discourse—not meme sharing and Facebook ranting. America was based on the notion that every citizen matters and has a voice. Do you believe that? If you do, are you willing to engage with people you disagree with? Will you break bread with people who are different than you in race, ethnicity, beliefs, and political party? Will you seek common ground? What if we rejected the cynical news cycles that show one side of an issue only? What if we, the citizenry, took seriously our civic duty to be educated on matters and critically thought about some of the things taking place in this country? If we did, things would change, and politicians could not get away with their business as usual approach. Corporations could not slant the news they have purchased with impunity.
We matter and what we do matters. If we lose sight of this, the American Dream dies, and our children’s dreams will die with it. We can secure the results we seek if we return to the original principles of our nation, trust in God and one another. What we are seeing today are the results of our entrenched political party system, and our apathy. This approach will fill us with fear and angst, while stripping us of our voice. It is time to return to civil, informed conversation. It is time to return to the American Dream.
Hakim Hazim is the founder of Relevant Now, a nationally recognized consultancy that focuses on security, criminality and decision analysis. Mr. Hazim has been featured in many publications and has provided more than 17 years of trusted service to a broad spectrum of professionals tasked with law enforcement, national security and offender populations. He is also the co-founder of web-based Christian think tank, Freedom Squared.