The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns unity – United We Stand and Divided We May Self-Destruct. The people of the United States are more divided now than they have been since the Civil War. The Civil War raged from April 12, 1861, to May 9, 1865, and cost the lives of more than 620,000 American soldiers. It also “bankrupted much of the South, left its roads, farms, and factories in ruins, and all but wiped out an entire generation of men who wore the blue and the gray.”
The Civil War erupted after decades
of simmering over slavery and central power. Congress tried several times to steer
the nation away from war by passing the “Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of
1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and many others.” In the end, eleven states –
South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas,
Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee – left the United States of
America and formed the Confederate States of America. Four long, dark, and
painful years of war were followed by the surrender of the Confederate armies
to the United States in April 1865 at Appomattox Court House and Bennett Place.
There are forces in the United
States who are still trying to use race to divide Americans, and the chasm
growing wider and deeper as time passes. Victor Davis Hanson wonders if the
United States is traveling down the same road of the Roman Empire. The huge
empire split in half in A.D. 286 under the direction of the Roman emperor
Diocletian. The split was “administratively – and peacefully” made and involved
the control of two emperors.
A Western empire included much of
modern-day Western Europe and northwest Africa. The Eastern half controlled
Eastern Europe and parts of Asia and northeastern Africa.
By 330, the Emperor Constantine
institutionalized that split by moving the empire’s capital from Rome to his
new imperial city of Constantinople, founded on the site of the old Greek polis
The two administrative halves of the once
huge empire continued to drift apart. Soon there arose two increasingly
different, though still kindred versions, of a once unified Romanity.
The Western empire eventually collapsed
into chaos by the latter fifth century A.D.
Yet the Roman eastern half survived for nearly
1,000 years. It was soon known as the Byzantine Empire, until overwhelmed by
the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D.
Historians still disagree over why the
East endured while the West crumbled. And they cite the various roles of
differing geography, border challenges, tribal enemies, and internal
Hanson wrote much more about the
divided Roman Empire and why one half thrived much longer than the other. The “Greek-speaking,
Orthodox Christian and older civilization [was] in the East, and a “more or
less polyglot and often fractious Christianity [was] in the Latin West.” The
Byzantium empire “held firm against ancient neighboring Persian, Middle Eastern,
and Egyptian rivals. But the West disintegrated into a tribal amalgam of its
own former peoples.”
In the United States we have the
divide between Red States and Blue States and even talk of another civil war.
Americans who have the means, move from conservative states to liberal states
and vice versa.
More conservative traditionalists head for
the interior between the coast, where there is usually smaller government,
fewer taxes, more religiosity, and unapologetic traditionalists.
These modern Byzantines are more apt to
define their patriotism by honoring ancient customs and rituals – standing for
the national anthem, attending church services on Sundays, demonstrating
reverence for American history and its heroes, and emphasizing the nuclear
Immigration in fly-over country is still
defined as melting pot assimilation and integration of new arrivals into the
body politic of a hallowed and enduring America.
red states welcome change, they believe America never had to be perfect to be
good. It will always survive, but only if it sticks to its 234-year-old
Constitution, stays united by the English language, and assimilates newcomers
into an enduring and exceptional American culture.
On the other hand, “the more liberal
blue states” are on the East Coast and the West Coast. They benefit from globalist
wealth gained from trade with Asia on the West Coast and the European Union on
the East Coast. “The great research universities of the Ivy League” are located
in the blue states. “Just as Rome was once the iconic center of the entire
Roman project, so blue Washington, D.C., is the nerve center for big-government
Unlike the red states, immigrants moving
into the blue states “retain and reboot their former cultural identities.” Religion
is different – less orthodox with more agnosticism and atheism. The blue states
on the coasts are home to “most of the recent social movements of American
feminism, transgenderism, and critical race theory.”
Foreigners see blue coastal Americans as
the more vibrant, sophisticated, cosmopolitan – and reckless – culture, its
vast wealth predicated on technology, information, communications, finance,
media, education, and entertainment.
In turn, they concede that the vast red
interior – with about the same population as blue America but with vastly greater
area – is the more pragmatic, predictable, and home to the food, fuels, ores,
and material production of America.
Our Byzantine interior and Roman coasts
are quite differently interpreting their shred American heritage as they
increasingly plot radically divergent courses to survive in scary times.
But as in the past, it is far more likely
that one state model will prove unsustainable and collapse than it is that either
region would ever start a civil war.
the Roman Empire, the government of the United States of America was founded on
a divinely inspired document known as the Constitution. President Dallin H.Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints spoke about the importance of “Defending Our Divinely
Inspired Constitution” in the April 2021 General Conference of the Church. He
outlined the principles that he considers to be divinely inspired before
stating the following:
Despite the divinely inspired principles
of the United States Constitution, when exercised by imperfect mortals their
intended effects have not always been achieved. Important subjects of
lawmaking, such as some laws governing family relationships, have been taken
from the states by the federal government. The First Amendment guarantee of
free speech has sometimes been diluted by suppression of unpopular speech. The
principle of separation of powers has always been under pressure with the ebb
and flow of one branch of government exercising or inhibiting the powers
delegated to another.
President Oaks then explained that
Latter-day Saints [and all Americans] have a “responsibility to uphold and
defend the United States Constitution and principles of constitutionalism
wherever we live.” He then made an important statement: “We should trust in the
Lord and be positive about this nation’s future.”
Latter-day Saints believe that
Christopher Columbus was divinely guided to discover the Americas and the
people who were living here. We believe that God helped the American colonists
to win the Revolutionary War and inspired the Founders in writing the
Constitution. Many of the writers in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of
Jesus Christ – testified that America is a land of liberty (2 Nephi 10:11) and
a “land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 1:42; 10:28; 13:2;
Doctrine and Covenants 38:20).
The scriptures testify that America
is a promised land unto those people who worship the God of the land who is
Jesus Christ. God helped to establish the United States of America with its
guaranty of religious liberty, and then He established His Church upon the
land. He will not allow the United States of America to be destroyed even
though terrible things may happen. America will most likely pass through some
dark days, but I believe that its future will be glorious and bright.