What is meant by the American heritage? What distinctive ideals and goals define our national perspective?
At a time when our purposes are in doubt, the urgency and relevance of these questions are inescapable.
Foreign nations are unsure of American objectives. For this confusion communist propaganda is somewhat to blame. But fault accrues also to our own diplomatic ambiguity. Even the unparalleled contributions of foreign aid domestically promoted as concrete expressions of the Golden Rule are interpreted by some powers simply as global investments of American self-interest. Material and mercenary motives have assumed prominent status both abroad and at home in rationalizing American policies. When moral motivations follow this primary appeal to private interest, their impact crumbles under the Marxist calumny that in the free world morality and self-interest are simple synonyms. We are failing to clarify adequately the relatedness of national and international good. We are failing to clarify convincingly egoistic and altruistic motivations. Moreover, the rival interests that jeopardize international understanding gnaw devastatingly in smaller scale at home in the party-spirit and sectional conflicts of the day.
Overdue, therefore, is an awareness that naturalistic and materialistic forces have dissolved many venerable elements of American idealism. Rediscovery that the American perspective was once basically spiritual, that national unity and purpose are historically related to that perspective, could be a propitious restorative. At times of ideological vagrancy a nation is particularly subject to the lure of alien ideals and may perhaps irrevocably yield its resources to delusive and deceptive promises. Mounting interest ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more