What It Means To Be In The American Community
The thing that makes a bunch of strangers different from a community is having a common purpose.
When Americans of all religious and political persuasions remember that they have a common purpose, they create the American community. When Americans forget that they have a common purpose in the middle of fractious disagreements, they become strangers sharing a geographical region.
A lot of Americans seem to forget that they’re in a community because they let their own political opinions become ends in themselves rather than means to an end. Political opinions are only good if someone holds them because they think it will ultimately lead to the common good of all people in the country. The common good is the purpose that holds together any country as a healthy community of citizens.
What happens when people forget their common purpose?
The first thing is that they start to think that their political opponents do not belong in their community. Political opponents who hold different opinions become something worse than just random strangers. They become enemies.
The second thing that happens is the opposing government officials become authoritarian pretenders rather than legitimate legislators. The result of this is an amplified and undue extent of disdain for the laws from those legislators regardless of the law’s effectiveness or justice. (On a side note, it’s entirely possible for political figures to actually become authoritarian pretenders among other things, but this piece is just about people inappropriately perceiving government officials as such because of a failure of community.)
There are two things that need to happen to maintain the American community. The first is that people need to remember that their political opinions should be for the common good (including political opponents). As long as everybody upholds the first part, the second thing is that people need to remember that their political opponents still have the same common purpose in mind – a happy, flourishing America.
Keeping those two things in mind is essential to doing one’s own part in ensuring a healthy American community.
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Kyle Huitt is currently an M.A. student in Western Michigan University’s philosophy program. He graduated from Hillsdale College in 2019 with a B.A. in philosophy and a minor in history. He has spoken at various Christian apologetics events and writes regularly about religious and political issues.