Local opinion columnists

America faces crisis of confidence

By From page A8 | June 16, 2014

Our house shook violently, similar to a sonic boom but much bigger. My father and I ran outside to see what had happened. He said, “Get in the car.”

Driving eastward, we could see a black plume of smoke rising from the refinery where dad worked, and then saw the demolished remains of a large petroleum storage tank. Several men had been welding inside and on top of the tank, but it had not been adequately tested for flammable fumes. The mixture of fuel and air was sufficient to create a large explosion.

If I remember correctly, two men died and two were critically injured. Invisible things are more important than the things we see with our eyes.

Wall Street analysts focus on revenue, profit and loss, and return on investment. But less-tangible things are more crucial to the American economy – vision, purpose and confidence are key.

Perception is reality. A company or bank may be financially sound. But if doubts arise, it can be brought to the brink of collapse by mere rumor. Fear can be a self-fulfilling prophesy, made true because people believe it is true. Belief is everything. Why are the pieces of paper in our wallets (called dollars) valuable? Because people believe they have value. If that belief is shaken, the same pieces of paper may become worthless, like in Germany during the 1920s.

The U.S. today suffers from profound worry and fear for the future. Deep-seated angst has overtaken the American people. Polls consistently show that two-thirds of Americans believe our country is headed on the wrong tack. This can be explained by the statement: “For lack of a vision the people parish.”

Our nation became great not because of dollars and cents, capitalism, innovation or smarts. The source of our nation’s greatness came from its underlying vision and the principles that united the land in common purpose. The “American experiment” of government, by the people, for the people, under God, is a noble cause that produced unprecedented freedom and prosperity for the majority of U.S. citizens. In recent years, our nation’s vision and purpose have been battered, marred, diverted and are in danger of being forgotten.

There were other times in U.S. history when our nation went astray. The 1920s was a decade of American lostness, when image, money, position and self-indulgence were all that seemed to matter, resulting in the 1929 stock market crash and Great Depression. Our lostness continued during the poverty-stricken 1930s, when many Americans wondered whether the country could remain a free and democratic society, doubting that American greatness would ever be restored.

Franklin Roosevelt did not save the U.S. from the Great Depression, nor did his New Deal programs. The beginning of World War II in 1939 finally slapped the American economy awake, restarting factories to produce equipment used in the battle against Nazism, Fascism and Japanese aggression. When America entered the war in 1941, it united the nation in a valiant cause, leading our people to pray that our soldiers be spared, and that the flame of freedom be preserved.

When the war ended in 1945, the lostness and doubts of the 1920s and ’30s were forgotten, replaced by a renewed American vision and purpose. America, the beacon of democracy and the most religious nation in the world, was the country that led reconstruction after the World War II, leading the way to freedom.

American houses of worship were filled to overflowing in the 1940s and ’50s. Thousands of new churches were built from coast to coast; and America sent more missionaries to foreign lands than all other nations combined.

The U.S. is inextricably linked to our historic vision and purpose. When our identity is forgotten, we flounder as a nation. But when the vision is restored, we prosper and progress once again. This has been the history of our land, from British colonial oppression to the First and Second Great Awakenings, from slavery, the Civil War and Great Depression to the post-World War II renewal. When America’s vision and faith is lacking, this is when we become divided, depressed, doubting, lacking confidence, and fearful for the future. When the vision is restored, our land is renewed.

America’s historic vision is invisible, but it is the thing that made our nation great. Vision is more powerful than explosive gases, mightier than money, more valuable than jewels. May the American vision be renewed, that we might become a beacon of hope to the world once more.

The Rev. Daniel Molyneux is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Fairfield. Reach him by email at [email protected]

The Rev. Dan Molyneux


Discussion | 9 comments

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  • 2realJune 16, 2014 - 6:05 am

    America is heading in the wrong direction. Thanks osama i mean obama.

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  • SixStrRzrJune 16, 2014 - 11:57 am

    Class warfare began with Reagonomics, a/k/a the beginning of the 1%/99%. Yeah, we got a chance to put our dumb money in this new "product" called a 401k, so that Wall Street could use our dumb money to leverage their smart money into a vast wealth transfer over the last 30 years. All the while, Wall Street plays by different rules than 99% of investors (if that's what you call us). Meanwhile, Big Pharma invents diseases (beginning with "Restless Leg Syndrome"), so they can invent new drugs to combat these new diseases, because their 20-year exclusivity on proprietary drugs is expiring, allowing generics to come on the market. The result of this (along with the disproportionate onset of Baby Boomer retirements) is that Medical Costs rise 4-5 times the rate of inflation, so that workers have to work into their 70's, because Medicare alone won't cover their post-retirement costs, like Restless Leg Syndrome. It is all (and I mean, all) about the money. We're force-fed blather at hyperspeed on local and national newscasts, because some program managers think that' s what will optimize their ad revenue. Yeah, it's my rant, but 99% of Americans are tired - just plain tired. Maybe that's why that little Daily Republic article on "Gives us your good news" has been running for, what?, a year or so?

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  • Danny BuntinJune 16, 2014 - 7:54 pm

    100% correct. "We're force-fed blather at hyperspeed on local and national newscasts".

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  • PornacJune 16, 2014 - 1:38 pm

    What a bunch of blather by the rev. What we really need is more guns.

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  • Danny BuntinJune 16, 2014 - 4:53 pm

    "Franklin Roosevelt did not save the U.S. from the Great Depression, nor did his New Deal programs." Yeah sure, tell that to all the people that the govt put to work improving the land and roads. These people were going through the dust bowl, and this saved their bacon and pride. "..replaced by a renewed American vision and purpose. America, the beacon of democracy and the most religious nation in the world." You can thank the Pacific and Atlantic oceans protecting us. Lets not forget the most of the world was not in a position to produce like we were, because our infrastructure was intact, and half the world was digging out, and counting the corpses. This sky fairy propagator sure needs a history lesson.

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  • rlw895June 16, 2014 - 5:05 pm

    Isn't it "“For lack of a vision the people perish?”

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  • rlw895June 16, 2014 - 5:21 pm

    Good column. "The source of our nation’s greatness came from its underlying vision and the principles that united the land in common purpose." That's certainly a big part of it. Another part is our immense wealth, born not only of vision, but also of ambition, access to natural resources, and stable borders. Change to any of those factors can result in malaise. The good reverend overstates the role of religion in establishing of national vision and optimism, but that's his job. Our "underlying vision and principles" are secular. We've had more internal peace when they align with their nonsecular counterparts, but it isn't always going to be like that. In such times, the secular must prevail, because this "most religious nation on earth" must remain secular in its governance to succeed.

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  • Danny BuntinJune 16, 2014 - 5:38 pm

    Agreed. He used a lot of fluff words and phrases to bolster his position. To me that is a red flag, but then again he selling a invisible product, so I guess it comes with the territory.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 16, 2014 - 7:45 pm

    Fluff is a good description for the entire column. His reasoning for many people today believing the country is heading in the wrong direction and his reason for the cause of the Great Depression are amusing. Personal, I like to calculate economics into the equation.

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