Are There Any Common American Values?

I came across this quote yesterday by Alexis de Tocqueville on the importance of a society/nation having some common values in order to survive.

“For without ideas in common, no common action would be possible, and without common action, men might exist but there could be no body social. So for society to exist, and even more, for society to prosper, it is essential that all minds of the citizens should always be rallied and held together by some leading ideas.”

I found this quote to be quite timely, as many Americans wonder if our government is broken and paralyzed by partisanship. Watching the primaries one sees this cycle of division only increased, as the notion of working and cooperating with people in a different party is akin to making a deal with the devil. The quote caused me to pause and think for quite sometime and I still had trouble of thinking of common united values that Americans collectively hold…

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3 Responses

  1. I believe the biggest value that we have–although many don’t apreciate it fully is freedom. Freedom to do and to be trusted with most of the areas of our lives.

    When I travel out of the country I appreciate this value more and more.

  2. Freedom, ideologically maybe, but practically, no way. We need look no further than the Patriot Act and the differing views on immigration to dispute that.

    I would say the quote Ryan posted, much like the “Law of Attraction” talked about in the popular book, The Secret, or even Rob Bell’s “Trampoline Theology” mentioned in Velvet Elvis, is nothing without a moral foundation. The reality is that “all minds of the citizens” in America are “rallied and held together by some leading ideas.” Mainly consumerism.

    Yet this brings the thesis of the quote into question. Because even though American consumerism is based of Judeo/Christian values (see: the Constitution) it has not caused us to prosper in the idealistic way the quote infers.

    Because all human societies are morally bankrupt (or eventually become so), they only see isolated times of prosperity and eventually cease to exist. For did not the Pax Romana represent a common, unifying ideology?

    And Chaplain Andrews, I appreciate the food the most when out of the country. Screw freedom, give me pizza. Keep up the good work brother and continue to fight the good fight. I thank God for you and the work you are doing.

  3. Chaplainandrew I think freedom is common value, but whose understanding of freedom?

    The libertarian, republican, or the democrat? All three political ideologies would readily advocate for the principle of freedom, but would functionally disagree on what that looks like. Just take health care, or economics as practical examples. of how these groups have vastly different interpretations of freedom and its boundaries.

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