First Words

Make today great again

Instead of glorifying the past, what if we treated the present as precious?

I never cease to be amazed by calls for America to return to a previous era of greatness. Although historians have yet to locate such an idyllic chapter in our nation’s history, their conclusions haven’t stopped large segments of the population from glorifying the past. Selective memory holds attractive appeal. Warm sentimentality, however oblivious to real experience, feels good. A campaign slogan like “Make America Great Again” (emphasis mine) can prove exceedingly effective.

For a sense of the backward-looking and trapped-in-nostalgia behaviors of our political parties, check out Anthony Robinson’s review of Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic ("Getting past the past"). Or, for a different take on the good ol’ days, try reading your newspaper’s letters to the editor. Here’s one I came across recently:

The battle between good and evil is raging out of control in America. We are doomed so long as our country insists on trashing the Ten Commandments and failing to return to Jesus. We will never return to the greatness of our past until we return to God and put prayer back in our schools. It’s time for America’s sin-sick soul to wake up.