Grace and peace to you from beyond your northern border; may the peace of Christ and the blessings of our sovereign Lord rain down on you all of your days.
Let me begin by saying how much I respect and admire your strong culture and your personal freedoms, you are a light to us all in terms of how democracy “for the people, by the people” can and does work.
Your economy, though slightly battered and bruised of late, is built on fundamentally sound policy and ideals which will recover and once again thrive; I have no doubt of that. Your political system is built to withstand all kinds of threats both from external forces and most importantly from within. You are a strong, unified nation, and so you shall remain for many years to come.
But there is a problem. You can’t seem to agree on even the most basic measures to fix your economy, political system or social institutions. I started to notice it around about the turn of this century when your presidential election hung in the balance for several days over irregular balloting in one or two states. It’s only gotten worse in the past decade.
Those of you who recognize that something is wrong can’t really see the problem for what it is. You have become polarized so that no matter what anyone says, half the country will automatically brand you as one of those people and write you off before you even finish speaking.
Stop bickering! You’re acting like children! Your internal arguments appear to those of us on the outside as nothing more than petty school yard spats. Like Rome before her, Washington is burning but you are too preoccupied with the notion of liberty and personal freedom to do anything about it for fear of what it might cost you.
I promise you this; if you do nothing, it will cost you everything!
America is a young nation. Just 235 years old. On the scale of human civilizations that makes you a mere toddler, but look at what you have accomplished in such a short time.
Your declaration of independence and constitution are powerful documents. Some of the greatest legal and moral codes since Moses brought down the 10 Commandments or the British Lords gave us the Magna Carta. At the time of your founding you were surrounded on all sides by hostile nations and a lawless frontier. Traumatized by a tyrannical central government that you had little influence over and afraid of imminent invasion you did what you had to do. By empowering your citizens to go forth and make their own destiny you built the greatest nation on earth. You should be proud of that but for the love of God, keep it in perspective.
Many of you have elevated your founding documents to the level of Holy Scripture and turned America into some sort of latter day promised land. Indeed to hear some of you speak it’s as if Jesus himself, not George Washington was the one to cross the Delaware. Give me a break!
I wish I didn’t have to point this out because it seems so basic to a nation that claims to have been founded on Christian faith, but you have violated the first commandment! You’ve turned these documents and your interpretation of them into what Dr. Timothy Keller calls a Counterfeit God. What greater sin could America commit? [Exodus 20:2, 3]
The human heart takes good things… and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, [Dr. Timothy Keller; Counterfeit Gods]
The world has changed in the last 235 years. The rest of us caught up with you. Liberty and freedom have been adopted throughout the developed world. Technology has advanced, economies have become integrated. The threats you face, we face together. You need to work with the rest of us or you will fail. No country is strong enough to go it alone. Many people may disagree, especially here in Canada with our close proximity and higher than normal interdependence, but I strongly believe that you need the rest of the world more than we need you. By clinging to the past you will be consigned to the annals of history alongside Athens and Rome.
Moving forward you must first, recognize that a strong central government with the power to enact and enforce law is not your enemy. Representative democracy is messy and sometimes individuals will find themselves in the minority. Laws designed to protect and strengthen you may at first seem oppressive, but that is not a reason to doubt the effectiveness of the system or undermine measures that serve the greater good. After all, Aristotle and Koffka both taught us that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Personal freedom be damned if it lead to anarchy.
Second, there are radical elements in all religions that must be controlled but religion itself must not be allowed to divide us. There is a lot of fear and misunderstanding between the religions of the world. While all claim to know the path to God you must not confuse Orthodoxy with Literalism. “Thou shall not kill,” is key to nearly all faiths, especially the dominant Abrahamic faiths, regardless of what a literalist, lunatic fringe may think. Remembering that and refusing to be lured into violence, by acts of violence is paramount for peaceful coexistence. [Exodus 20:13, Matthew 5:43, 44, Quran 5:32]
Lastly, do not fear “world government”. Many have bemoaned the UN, the G8, the G20 and the World Economic Forum as harbingers of some sort of apocalypse. The warnings in the book of Revelation against such things should not be interpreted literally. By working together democratically we can stand up to tyranny and promote liberty in ways individual states simply cannot. It is America’s refusal to sign international treaties such as those that ban landmines, set targets for carbon emissions or place controls on banking systems which doom them to failure and will eventually force the world to act without American support, indeed we’ve already started.
In closing I wish to reiterate how much America has gotten right. It is not my intent to insult or offend you. I merely wish you to look beyond yourself and see the world for how it really is. We want you to become a full partner, not some kind of international Big Brother, who stands on the sidelines tisc-tiscing away but never offering constructive help until the only thing to do is swoop in on your proverbial white horse (aircraft carrier) and save us from a disaster you helped to create.
To quote former president George W. Bush; “You’re either with us or against us”; the days when you could act unilaterally and expect to get your way are over. Please don’t be a fool and try to hang on to some antiquated idea of America at the top of the world order. Recent events in Egypt and other parts of the Arab world are proving once again that democracy, the same democracy you’ve been trying to export since the end of WWII, is winning but now your decentralized approach is in the minority.
Make no mistake, American influence is declining and how you handle that decline will determine if the new world order will be peaceful or lead to the bloodiest battle in recorded history. No one wants that.
I’m begging you, set aside your personal obsessions and join the collective effort to make the world better. It’s not too late.
Your friend, neighbour, biggest trading partner, and Christian Brother – Canada
(Or at least one Canadian – I shouldn’t say I speak for all 32 million of us should I?)