“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The great American Republic, the City on the Hill, and beacon of hope for humanity like the Titanic, which was once considered unsinkable, is facing its hour of great peril.
A republic is what the United States was built upon. It shaped the founding of this country, and has been the template for how our nation has been governed for nearly 250 years now. And yet, as I look around today, I can’t help but feel that it’s in danger.
As a medical student, I went with some of my classmates to see the 1997 movie Titanic. I wasn’t very interested in the movie when it first came out, but so many of my friends told me how great it was that I decided to go see it. It was indeed a riveting movie, and it went on to become one of the biggest box office hits of all time.
While pondering the state of our country recently, this movie flashed through my mind. It dawned on me that there seem to be some unfortunate similarities between this grand, sinking ship and that of our own beloved United States of America.
Unsinkable, Indestructible, these were some of the words used to describe this Ship of Dreams, the majestic Titanic, named for the Titans of Greek mythology. Chief architect Thomas Andrews and his team spent months laboriously and meticulously planning out the grand ship’s design. Many strong and brave men went on to build the ship, pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into it, with some even losing their lives in the process. And everyone wanted to sail on it and be a part of it.
Those who boarded her felt a great sense of pride and good fortune. There was a feeling of both joy and freedom in the air at being on the open seas on such a magnificent vessel. But this big, beautiful ship that everyone so firmly believed was indestructible, that people knew was unsinkable, in the end, indeed met her watery and deep demise. But how did it happen? How could something that was so sturdy and so meticulously planned sink like a stone?
It all began with a warning. The crew members of the Titanic knew that in the North Atlantic waters there lurked a menacing danger, much of which could not be seen with the crew’s limited vision. They were all around, lying in wait, these icebergs, should the Titanic unknowingly veer in their direction. Despite several dire warnings on day three of their voyage, the ship kept going full-steam ahead. The warnings were largely ignored and brushed off.
The crew did try to keep watch, but by the time they saw the danger, it was too late. The Titanic struck a massive iceberg, which went through the hull, piercing five compartments of the ship and flooding two of the boiler rooms. The damage was believed to be extremely large, but, in fact, it was only a small area that was damaged initially.
However, the damage was just enough of an opening, in just the “right” area, to allow in what the architects did their best to keep out. Water began taking over one end of the ship. Upon assessing the damage, Andrews declared that his unsinkable ship would, indeed, sink — it was a mathematical certainty.
Passengers had no idea that the ship was only a few hours away from sinking. They were assured by crew members that everything was fine. They were to pay no attention to the fact that the engines had stopped, and should instead go on about their merriment or slumber, as the case may be. There was no need for concern. Everything was under control.
When crew members finally realized that the Titanic was doomed, they did their best to shuffle passengers onto the ship’s limited supply of lifeboats. Even then, many passengers still did not believe the ship was sinking. Their minds could not accept it.
They had been assured they would be safe. It was British after all, it was the Titanic, and it was unsinkable, so how could they come to any harm. How could such danger be present? Many continued on with their revelry, believing the warnings to be mere exaggerations.
By the time they realized that the warnings were indeed true, it was too late for most. There were not enough lifeboats on board to begin with. All too soon they were overtaken by the cold, dark water and sadly went to their watery grave.
Fractured in two
The Titanic didn’t just sink. As the seawater crept in from the outside, enough pressure was finally put on the ship to cause it to fracture into two separate pieces, leaving it held together only by the proverbial thread. As the internal pressure increased, what was believed to be indestructible, was in fact, found to be very fragile against the forces that took away its life.
So much of what happened on the Titanic involved ignored warnings, failure of other ships in the vicinity to answer or recognize distress calls. Even as things were falling apart, just underneath the surface, before the gravity of the situation was finally understood, there was the all-pervading notion that this could never happen.
I liken what happened on the great Titanic to our own great country today. We have so many warning signs. Socialism, much like the destructive icebergs and cold, invasive seawater breaching the Titanic, is clearly knocking at the door. Many think that it could never happen in our country, a country founded as a republic, a country of strength and freedom.
So many are distracted by their busy lives and the many shiny objects created for their entertainment. Some may sense something isn’t right, but those seeking to change our country reassure them that everything is fine, there’s no need for concern, they only have everyone’s best interests at heart. Some others clearly see the danger and try their best to warn of what is to come. But the warnings go largely unheeded.
On tolerance and freedom
Just as the Titanic was cleaved in two, we see a fracturing among the citizens in our own country, and a fracturing of our own political system.
Where we once had a government that worked together, we now have a deeply divided one, with one side pitted against the other. Gone are the days of civilized conversation, of working together and respecting one another’s views; in their place is a plethora of angry words. Terms like bigot and racist are thrown about when someone does not fall in line with the collective thought.
People are even called out on social media by others for befriending someone who might not hold the same views that they do, all in an effort to shame the person and get them to bend to the will of the group. While they chant tolerance, they mean tolerance only for those who are in agreement with their beliefs. While they denounce hatred, they mean only if that hatred is directed at them, and do not hesitate to spew hate at those who disagree with their views.
Do we not see where this ship is heading? Let us not forget that this is what occurs in countries that have no tolerance for freedom of speech or individual beliefs. One need only spend a little time in one of these countries to see that the utopia that was promised does not, in fact, exist at all.
We seem to have lost sight of something. One can have a differing opinion from another and still be kind to that person, still befriend that person, and still not have hatred or dislike for that person. Having different beliefs and opinions from another does not equate to hatred of another; it only equates to just that — a different opinion. And it does not mean that we must each fall in line and accept things that go against our individual beliefs in order to be tolerant of one another.
I am free to say that I disagree with someone else’s beliefs if their beliefs do not align with mine. And that is only because I am fortunate enough to live in a free society. Because of this freedom, someone can also say the same about me. And if we each come from a place of rationality, rather than emotion, we can amicably disagree and discuss our views in a kind and civilized manner.
But there are those who seek to force everyone to accept their views as being right and applicable to us all. At the moment, some of their views are becoming mainstream, and they feel a momentum behind their causes, leading them to feel ever-more-confident that they are right and others are wrong — and thus any differing voices must either be silenced or brought into the fold.
They would do well to remember that a country that will not tolerate certain types of free speech will, in the end, not tolerate any type of free speech, including their own.
A Republic grounded on strong morals and values, with God the Creator at its core
Just as the architects of the Titanic worked together tirelessly to create the best ship their minds could imagine, the founders of our country, the architects of our Constitution, thoughtfully and cooperatively planned and engineered a republic, founded upon strong morals, principles, and values, with God the Creator being at its core.
Many believe our country, much like the Titanic, to be indestructible and unsinkable. In founding our great republic, however, our forefathers were not as confident as the architects of the Titanic.
When asked, on the final day of the Constitutional Convention, what our new-found country had been given, Benjamin Franklin is said to have replied: “A republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.” That the United States is a republic was widely understood well into the 19th century, but heading into the 20th century, even the leaders of our own country began referring to it as a democracy.
“A republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.”
Today, many, if not most, believe that we were created as a democracy. With so much double-speak creating confusion around these terms, I, too, had forgotten that we are a republic, nor was I clear on the differences between the two.
In fact, our founding fathers did what they could to ensure that we did not become a democracy, knowing that history demonstrated no democracy ever lasted long. The John Birch Society produced a succinct explanation of democracy and a republic in their video Overview of America. It’s something I think every American, including our children, should see.
John F. McManus of the John Birch Society, in an article in The New American, quotes many of our founding fathers regarding their views on why democracy does not work:
“John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, championed the new Constitution in his state precisely because it would not create a democracy. ‘Democracy never lasts long,’ he noted. ‘It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.’ He insisted: ‘There was never a democracy that “did not commit suicide.’”
McManus notes that understanding the differences between a democracy and a republic is crucial:
“[T]he difference between a democracy and a republic is not merely a question of semantics but is fundamental. The word ‘republic’ comes from the Latin res publica — which means simply ‘the public thing(s),’ or more simply ‘the law(s).’ ‘Democracy,’ on the other hand, is derived from the Greek words demos and kratein, which translates to ‘the people to rule.’ Democracy, therefore, has always been synonymous with majority rule… They recognized that majority rule would quickly degenerate into mobocracy and then into tyranny.”
Karl Marx, Lenin, Mao… they all understood this as well, and knew that to get to socialism, and ultimately communism, democracy was a necessary step.
Those who came to our country’s shores valued the freedoms this country afforded them, and they were proud to call it home, in much the same way those who boarded the Titanic felt proud to be a part of it. And just as men poured themselves into building the Titanic, with some losing their lives, many brave men in our country have fought to gain and maintain the liberties and freedoms enjoyed here, knowing that it’s their duty and right to do so.
We must not lose sight of the principles upon which our republic was founded.
Where are we headed?
Today, the internal pressure is ever-increasing in our country. Our morals and values are shifting, they have shifted. We have let things seep into the hull of our country that seek to tear it apart, just as the turbid, dark waters that crept into the Titanic sought to tear apart what was once solid and strong.
Our country now seems to be fracturing before our eyes. Things have degraded to the point where we are even told that we should be ashamed of our own great country. God has been removed, and not just from our schools; now, simply wishing someone “Merry Christmas” is labeled “politically incorrect.” Right and wrong are now considered relative, people seem to know no self-restraint, and life is no longer viewed as sacred. What is to become of our country if we continue on this path?
The architects of our country did their best to ensure our liberties and freedoms, and to keep out of our country that which would destroy it. But as with the architects of the Titanic, sometimes the best-laid plans are not enough. Cracks and gaps can appear and let in what will ultimately bring about its demise if we are not vigilant.
We must remember that it was not the immense outside pressure that took down the Titanic, but rather what flowed inside only when cracks appeared, creating a great internal pressure, which led to its sinking.
I recently talked with a patient who was a World War II veteran, and he shared his thoughts on the topic. He commented that he could hardly believe what he was witnessing in our country — the country he fought for, and was willing to lay down his life for.
In his view, what Japan, Nazi Germany, and Russia could not do is now being done from within. He believes he is witnessing the destruction, at the hands of inside forces, of the country he so dearly loves.
Another patient in her late 80s recalls growing up hearing rhetoric from communist countries regarding how they would take the United States down. Our country, she said, always focused on this threat coming from the outside, in the form of war. She said she never dreamed that the plan all along was to take us down from the inside, as she was seeing occur today.
They both lamented the future of our country and its young people.
While our country and its system of government are certainly not without their flaws, living under the stranglehold of socialism, whose end goal is ultimately communism, is not the answer.
The ship of our republic has endured many rough seas, including a civil war, but unlike the Titanic, it has historically proven seaworthy and made it through many turbulent waters. We must ask ourselves this question: Why is it now floundering?
Just like those on the sinking Titanic, many don’t see it coming, despite the warnings. They view the breakdown of our traditions, morals, and values as progress, and a good thing, forgetting, or simply ignoring, what our country was founded upon, all for the sake of their own self-serving interests and desires. Kindness and thinking of others first seem to be things of a bygone era. Perhaps therein lies the clues to America’s floundering.
Will the ship continue to fracture and ultimately sink? Or will we see, before it’s too late, that, while we are being told that everything is fine, our very freedoms and liberties are being taken away, and that the ship is indeed sinking?
Only time will tell.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nspirement.