I am beginning a new series on the blog here that I hope will be useful to those who read it. I have found more and more that people are not being taught the important principles that have made our nation the greatest in the world. It is quite astounding to be honest. If America is going to survive, we must be taught the principles and ideas that have built our nation. Our founders understood this. Benjamin Franklin once said, “I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue.”
My hope in starting this series of posts is that it will be of use for students and teachers alike, in order to “form and train up youth in wisdom”.
So what makes America so incredibly great, and how do we maintain it?
Proper Balance Between State and Country
When America was in the very first stages of her fight for Independence, one of the biggest problems our leaders faced was division in the ranks of the colonies. To be able to understand this better we have to look at what colonial America was like at that point. We were thirteen colonies settled by people from various other nations, and under the rule of Great Britain. Each of the colonies was like its own country in some respects, of course still under the total authority of the British.
It was very aptly put into perspective in a cartoon made popular during the War for Independence. The famous drawing of a snake divided into separate pieces. Below the snake is written the phrase, Join or Die.
As is so aptly portrayed in this cartoon drawing, a snake cannot live if it is divided into pieces. Anyone who has ever killed a snake understands that once you sever part of their body, it might continue to move around a little, and yes it even has the ability to bite you and release its deadly poison. But that ability, caused by muscle reflex, will only last a short time. When the snake is totally whole however, it is a force to be reckoned with. It is powerful and deadly, warning possible predators to stay away.
This was a perfect illustration used by our forefathers to show America that she too needed to be united and whole. It was an evident fact that if America was going to survive, it would need to be fully united. Too many of our colonists were divided by what colony they came from. Even in the Continental army, there was disunity caused by this. Soldiers reared in rebellion at the thought of someone from a different colony leading them into battle. Perhaps one soldier was from Massachusetts, whereas another was from Virginia, and the difference in their cultures would cause division. Washington himself met resistance in leading the Continental Army at first, due to the fact that he was from Virginia.
How can an army fight and win battles when its soldiers aren’t on the same page? If they didn’t have a mutual respect for each other, there was no way they could go into battle together and succeed. America had to be united in her cause, or she would surely be beat back into submission to tyranny at the hands of King George III. It was an imperative task.
Eventually America’s colonies did unite, and through it we won our rightful Independence. The unity that pulled us together is what made us into a force the British didn’t want to reckon with, just like in the example of the snake. It gave us the strength and deadliness to use the potent motto, “Don’t Tread On Me!”.
The struggle wasn’t fully over though. It was something that our founders were met with every step of the way in building a strong nation. After the war had been won and our founders were beginning to piece together the beautiful Constitution they gave us, balance between state and federal government was at the forefront of their minds. Our founders knew that there had to be dual sovereignty between the individual states and the country on a national level. Nothing else would work. If the federal Government was too strong, freedom would die and America would slip further and further into the grip of tyranny once again. If, on the other hand, States became too strong, America as a whole would begin to disintegrate until it completely crumbled into separate pieces all together.
Alexander Hamilton put it this way:
This clearly shows us that our founders held balance of State and Country in high regard. In fact, we know that they did, because they included it in the Constitution. Our Tenth Amendment gives individual states the power to govern in issues not clearly under the power of the federal government according to the Constitution.
It is evident just how important proper balance between State and Country is. Even in today’s day and age, with the United States having become the world power that she is, we still at times struggle with understanding this balance. It grieves me so much when I see an imbalance between love of State and love of Country.
Let me put this out there: There is a serious problem when you will fly your state flag over the American flag.
Now hold it right there, all you State’s rights advocates! I’m a firm believer in State’s rights. I’ve said it a thousand times, and will continue to say it—individual States are granted rights in our Constitution that cannot be taken away by the federal government. (And yes, the Confederacy was 100% within their Constitutional rights.) I am a die-hard believer that we actually need more devotion to our individual States in our Country today. So before you jump on me and start throwing rotten tomatoes, let me finish my thought process here.
I support flying your State flag. When I see someone with a love for their State, I say kudos to them! Each American citizen should have a devotion and loyalty to their State. I think it is something that is lacking sorely in our nation today.
However when that loyalty to one’s State surpasses that of one’s country, that is where I have a problem. You see, each state—regardless of its past history—is part of the United States of America…start acting like it. I understand that some States have a very illustrious history prior to becoming part of America, and I think that is incredible. I don’t think they should ever lose sight of their history, because it adds to the beauty of who we are, in America, as a whole.
But hear me well! Your love for your State should never surpass your love for your Country. When you will fly your State’s flag before you will fly your Country’s flag, there is a serious problem. I have no respect for that.
Should we love our Country as a whole more than we do our individual States?
Loving the Country on a national level more than individual States is just as bad as loving the States more.
We as Americans must understand that a strong nation is built on mutual love for State and Country. We have to have balance in order for America to work the way it was intended by our founding fathers. They were dealing with the same issue of balance that we do today. And what they found was that in order to form a “more perfect union”, Americans had to find that beautiful balance between love of State and love of Country.
As Americans today, it is imperative that we recognize one is not better than the other.
Individual States alone are weak. If their citizens have a higher love for a State than they do for their Country as a whole, America is in grave danger of crumbling. Likewise, if citizens do not hold in their hearts a deep love for their individual State, but rather see patriotism as being a love solely for our Country as a whole, we will surely fall.
I’m tired of Americans not understanding this balance! I see it swinging both ways. Many conservatives who believe in State’s rights, like I do, are missing the point. They swing almost to the point of being like those colonists before we became a nation, who were so divided they couldn’t fight the redcoats because they were so busy fighting themselves!
On the other side of the coin, I see a lot of Americans who haven’t been taught the truth about State’s rights. They don’t understand that our Constitution guarantees that individual States have rights that the federal government cannot take away.
This is leading to weakness in our nation. The Biblical principle is there:
How can we be a nation united when we don’t understand the balance between State and Country? This is one of the top reasons our nation is where it is at today.
Americans are forgetting the basic principles that we were built on, and it is destroying us from the inside out.
If we are to go forward as the strong nation we have been historically, we must correct our thinking in this area! Not only do we as adults need to understand the way our nation works, but it is our responsibility and duty to ensure that our children also know and understand.
That’s my challenge to you today. Take this and share it everywhere you can. Teach your children! If you’re not a parent yet, you still aren’t off the hook. I would imagine that there is someone in your life that you could (and should) teach this to.
What are your thoughts on balance of State and Country? I would love to hear from you!