Religion is one of America#039;s strongest aspects

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2002

When Alexis de Tocqueville was dispatched from France in 1831, he was given the specific mission of making a determination of why America was great.

In his report to the queen following his stay in America, he observed that the United States had outstanding leadership, wonderful natural resources, a well-organized government, and a spirit of adventure, all of which he felt contributed to the successes enjoyed by the American people. But he proclaimed in his report that, despite all of these assets, the things that made America great was its churches.

As a history and political science major in college, I spent some time studying the writings of Tocqueville. The observations which he made about America can be found in De la democratie en Amerique (2 vol., 1835; tr. Democracy in America, 4 vol., 1835-40), one of the classics of political literature. Tocqueville believed that political democracy and social equality would, inevitably, replace the aristocratic institutions of Europe.

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He analyzed the American attempt to have both liberty and equality in terms of what lessons Europe could learn from American successes and failures.

The French politician and writer's work has always intrigued me because it represents a person from without looking upon America as a country and as a successful world power.

Since the tragic events of 9-11, much attention has been focused on America by "outside writers" and it has been interesting to compare their writings with those of Tocqueville. It seems that many nations of the world are eager to analyze what makes America tick and some of these writers are highly complementary and some highly critical. I assume that is only natural since they individually bring to the table their own experiences in their own countries.

Much of the observations made by Tocqueville could be restated with the same degree of validity today. This country has been blessed with outstanding leadership, the type of leadership that has kept us free and viable in a world economy. We have the best natural resources of any nation on earth. Our form of government has stood the test of time and compared with other nations of the world has been in existence longer than any since the Roman Empire.

We also have maintained that spirit of adventure. America is first in technology changes, first in space exploration, first in design of weaponry and many other exciting innovations.

I also would contend that our religious fiber is what continues to make us strong. I see some erosion of faith-based problem solving in America, but on the whole, I believe we still draw our strength from a belief in God and a commitment to doing what's right and best for the citizens of our great country.

If anything, I feel the events of 9-11 have created a renewed patriotism in the American people and a renewed commitment to draw closer to God. It is regrettable that it takes a tragedy like this to wake us up, but whatever the motive, I feel we are heading in the right direction.

Many of these thoughts have been generated by spending this past weekend with a guest speaker who delivered the commencement address at Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery. Our speaker was an international legal figure who could discuss with a great deal of knowledge and authority the perspectives on America which are held by many European and African countries. We spent several hours this past weekend engaged in conversation on this topic.

My closing thought is that America is still the greatest nation on the face of the earth, and it can proudly wear that title because of its people. Although the face of our nation is rapidly changing, the people of America still honor our heritage and support our domestic and world mission. May it ever be.

Just remember, "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government. Feel free to contact me at P. O. Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049, or by telephone at 334-242-7883.