Who’s Driving this Ship Anyway?
In 1831, Alexis De Tocqueville toured the new American republic.
In celebration of the greatness of the American experiment so many men and women gave their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor to secure and protect, I offer the following few of his manifold observations (and the added bonus of my very brief but poignant perspective):
Among the new objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck my eye more vividly than the equality of conditions…
So, therefore, as I studied American society, more and more I saw in equality of conditions the generative fact from which each particular fact seemed to issue, and I found it before me constantly as a central point at which all my observations came to an end…
A great democratic revolution is taking place among us: all see it, but all do not judge it in the same manner. Some consider it a new thing, and taking it for an accident, they still hope to be able to stop it; whereas others judge it irresistible because to them it seems the most continuous, the oldest, and the most permanent fact known in history…
The gradual development of equality of conditions is therefore a providential fact, and it has the principal characteristics of one: it is universal, it is enduring, each day it escapes human power; all events, like all men, serve its development…
When the American Republic begins to degenerate, I believe that one will be able to recognize it easily: it will be enough to see if the number of political judgments rises.
-Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835
Our nation is in dangerous waters. We’re no longer drifting. We’ve cut the ropes entirely. The moorings and way points we’ve known for more than 200 years are vanishing aft in yonder horizon. We are, at this moment, driven by the raging currents of an epithymatic soul.
While rakish patrons dance to band music on the ship’s deck, our three-headed captain sings along to Frank Sinatra’s I Did It My Way, steering madly toward the same rapids that have capsized and crushed the greatest ships that have ever sailed the seas of humanity.
In the spirit of our independence from tyranny and the American Revolution that we are celebrating today, shouldn’t we be willing to take the steering wheel away from the three-headed derelict and turn the ship around before it sinks?
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He shares valuable tips on writing and teaching, rich insights into theology and literature, and meaningful perspective on living a life of significance. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.
Subscribe for free, and get Write Like A Human, a resource that will teach you C.S. Lewis’s “secret sauce” for excellent writing. Plus, I’ll send you updates directly to your inbox every time I post.
Comments Policy: Comments that are relevant and add value to the conversation are encouraged, even if they express disagreement with the topic or the writer. All comments must be free from gross profanity, or otherwise distasteful language (at moderator’s discretion), and accompanied by a valid first name and email address (all anonymous comments are blocked).