A Divided Nation

No matter the results of the presidential election, our nation is embarking on four years of change, economic upheaval and hard decisions about our values and our future.  Some of us will be happy with the election results and about the same number of us will be discouraged, disappointed, and even angry.  In many ways we are a divided people.  Abortion, same-sex marriage, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the role of government in our daily lives:  these and many other issues define our political views.  We argue with one another, perhaps in the hopes of persuading others to share our views, or maybe just to vent our frustrations with what seems to be a political and social system that is permanently mired in gridlock.  The problems facing our country can appear oppressive and intractable.  Yet, as is true with most things, there’s nothing new under the sun.  In the brief history of America, we’ve seen divisions like this before.  When the urge for independence from England first took root in the colonies, families and communities were divided.  In the War Between the States, we saw the deep and abiding fracture of North and South, of brother against brother.  Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement both polarized us as a country for decades.
 
Yet through all these struggles, we emerged as better for it.  Maybe because our conflicts and disagreements helped us to define who we are as Americans and cleared our clouded vision so we could imagine a more perfect union, a more united future.  Or maybe we just came to the point where the struggle wasn’t worth the price we paid in blood, in treasure, in the broken ties that once bound us as family and community.  Valley Forge.  Gettysburg.  Khe Sanh. Birmingham.  When we look at our nation’s present troubles as a process occurring “out there in the world” we can’t see how one person can make any difference or be any force of change to find a way through our divisions towards unity of purpose and real lasting peace.
 
What’s wrong with our world?  The English writer G.K. Chesterton was once asked this question for a newspaper article.  His remarkable answer:  “I am.”  The world “out there” is a perfect mirror of your heart and of my heart.  If there is division and conflict in the world, it’s because my own heart is divided and in conflict.  The world we live in is a reflection of the hearts that beat within us.  A culture divided by issues of life, family, freedom, and our future reveals our own internal struggles to come to terms with the meaning of our existence.  Why am I here?  What’s the purpose of my life?  What happens after I die?  Is THIS all there is?  We’re hungry for answers, real answers.  And one step into your local bookstore will show you how many different “answers” there are out there.  But most come down to a few disturbing guiding principles:  What’s in it for me?  How much can I get away with?  What’s the least I can do and still get by in my schooling, my marriage, my job, etc?  With these questions to guide us, it’s no wonder that our hearts and our nation, hunger for peace, truth and authentic happiness. 
 
This hunger itself is a gift from God.  By placing it within us, He invites us to seek Him out, since only God can satisfy our yearnings.  In Christ alone will we find our heart’s desire.  We were made to be reconciled to the Father through Jesus Christ.  Every soul created by God was made to live in relationship with Him.  When we surrender ourselves to the One Who loved us first, we find true peace.  Our divided hearts are made whole in the mercy and love of His Sacred Heart.  And this healing is one filled with abundant joy.  As Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest”(John 10:10).  Imagine a culture or a nation which truly embraced Christ! To do that, our own hearts must first come to Him.  Each of us must carry the light of Christ in our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods and our nation.  By following Christ, we become the people God created us to be.  Our great nation and our President need our prayers now and especially over the next four years to come.  There is a Light leading our path if we only choose to follow Him. God bless America.
 
“The desire for God is written in the human heart because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to Himself.  Only in God will man find the truth and happiness he never stops yearning for.”
                                                               —The Catechism of the Catholic Church

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