Ever get the feeling our country is being led by a captain with no sense of direction, that the officers on the boat can’t tell up from down or right from left. Does every news story cause you to become increasingly uneasy? Do you feel that you’re on a ship without a rudder, a vessel that is being tossed to and fro with every blowing wind and tossing wave of political confusion, economic crisis, and social conflict?
Just consider this week’s news. Our president is, at best, an addled man who can’t remember his home address. Our secretary of transportation is so morally calloused that he actually posts pictures of himself cuddling with his boyfriend while on a two-month vacation as our country’s supply chain crumbles. And our assistant secretary of health is a man so confused that he thinks he’s a woman.
You can’t make this stuff up!
We are clearly a nation without a sense of direction; a people with no moral compass, a country of the blind leading the blind; a culture that is lost and in desperate need of a map.
A map can be one of your most essential tools if you want to get from point A to point B. It provides a bird’s-eye view. It unifies what is otherwise fragmented. It brings everything together as a cohesive whole.
A map gives you perspective. Without it, your vision is limited to the next turn in the path, the next fork in the road, the next rock and ridge. It’s hard to understand proximity, place, and even purpose when you don’t have a map.
This loss of a common way of seeing things, of a cultural map, is more evident than ever in our current political discourse. With each new controversy, our loss of perspective regarding who we are as a free nation and free people becomes more and more obvious. Segregation. Victimization. Balkanization. Covidization. We’re a splintered rather than a united states. Democrats versus Republicans, liberals versus conservatives, young versus old, Blacks versus Whites, men versus women. The list of divisions, cliques, and groups seems endless. It’s as if E Pluribus Unum has been flipped on its head. We now seem to be a nation built on the assumption of E Unum, Pluribus, dividing the one into the many.
And we have not only discarded common cause and common purpose, but we have also lost any modicum of common sense, rationality, and logic.
Listen to any of the present political debates. You will hear a litany of disjointed and contradictory ideas made by the same individual, the same party, and the same media pundits. One politician says that he stands for children and the funding of infant care, while at the same time, he champions killing children just seconds before they’re born and “officially” become the infants for which he should care. Another pledges allegiance to “one nation under God” then acts as if she is God. And yet another swears to “defend and protect” our nation’s borders but then denies that our country has any borders that he will defend.
Like a hiker trying to navigate Yosemite without a map, these leaders have no unifying perspective. Their vision is truncated. They don’t see the big picture. They don’t see the forest for the trees. They only see one tree at a time (and maybe not even the tree, but just the bark). They never see the whole, but rather just the parts.
One of the most remarkable aspects of our Constitution is how unified and complete the thinking our founding fathers were. They anticipated issues of their day and how a particular set of ideas would impact the nation at large. They understood Locke and Montesquieu. They read Hume and Voltaire. They discussed Plato, Cicero, and Socrates. They knew their Bibles like the backs of their hands. They knew what Moses said, as well as Jesus. They could see backward as well as ahead. They knew where they had been and where they were going. They saw the promise of a republic and the dangers of a Robespierre. They understood the freedom of a covenant and the bondage of hierarchy. They saw the risks in the rule of the gang and the power in submitting to the reign of God. They believed in a big God rather than Big Brother. They had perspective. They saw not only the forest for the trees but also the paths and roadways that history and providence had carved on their behalf. They had a map, and they used it.
Maybe, just maybe, if we’d elect leaders who would do the same, there’s still time to save ourselves from careening over the cliffs of our own confusion.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery) and, most recently, “Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, But It’s Good.”