Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?

A great many of us in this country do not deserve the honor implicit in these words from our National Anthem. And there are many others in this country who actually despise the values inherent in these words. The pandemic trauma of the last two years has been brutally revelatory in what it has shown of our collective lack of courage and character.

Land of the free? We have experienced in this pandemic a comprehensive destruction of our liberties, including restriction of movement, confinement, denial of religious services and the right to assemble, and coerced injection with dangerous, inadequately tested, experimental “vaccines.” All of this was done in the name of a false “common good:” a common good based only on the supposed efficacy of the vaccines and the futile mitigation measures; a common good which included no assessment of the societal impacts of the mitigation measures, such as suicide and mental health issues, child development issues, or economic issues; a common good calculation which failed to factor in the minimal impact of the disease to the great majority of the population; a common good calculation which employed distorted death rates; and a common good calculation which unbelievably and purposely ignored any medical treatment other than the “vaccines.”

Home of the brave? We appear now to be driven by fear. It is difficult to assess which is worse: the assault on our liberties, or the weak and timid way in which most of us have accepted it. Of all of the travesties that we have endured during this last two years, this has got to be the worst: the realization that our vaunted American independence is nothing but a sham. How bitterly disappointing, how very disheartening, how wretchedly tragic.

Among those who look to their faith as the foundation of their lives, perhaps the greatest disappointment in all of this miserable American covid spectacle has to be reserved for the failure of the Catholic Church to challenge government overreach throughout the pandemic. This failure is aptly demonstrated by the USCCB statement on Covid-19, issued in March of 2021, about a year after the pandemic started. [1] Our bishops, dedicated to the most important mission of all, the salvation of souls, apparently dismissed any consideration of spiritual health as restrictive mandates were decreed, and focused merely on physical suffering, accepting without question the government view of the efficacy of the vaccines, other mandates, and the danger of the virus, and even expanding upon the government’s progressivism by advocating globalist support of a false common good. There is not a single line in that document addressing the critical importance of freedom of religion or the damage done by coercive government mandates to that freedom.

This exposed American frailty, exacerbated by the lack of spiritual support from the Church, is bad enough: but another, more ominous, measure of plunging moral decline has surfaced during this pandemic: the ugly strain of tyrannical behavior which has been manifested in various sectors of our society over the past two years. And I speak not just of federal, state, and local governments. Corporations, teachers unions, the press, big tech and social media, academia, the medical establishment – leadership elites across the board – have all suppressed the free expression of information and activities opposing the party line dictated by the Democrat government and permanent government ruling class. Many otherwise ordinary citizens have taken it upon themselves to physically and verbally attack other citizens who do not toe the party line. The speed with which so many citizens have jumped on the coercion bandwagon is alarming. For two years there has been very little resistance to these totalitarian tendencies suddenly materializing amongst what was once a fiercely independent people who prized above all else the liberty to think and act with independence. I formerly thought that the “struggle sessions” and the indoctrination that happen in Communist countries could never happen here in the land of the free and the home of the brave: now, it is all too evident that such oppression could indeed become a permanent part of the social fabric of our ostensibly free country.

We are witnessing a troubling convergence: a weak, rudderless populace meekly obeisant to an imperious ruling class. This convergence feeds and nourishes the massively dysfunctional autocratic governance we are now experiencing, which is usually found in third world countries not enjoying the rights of a constitutional republic. It probably indicates that the progressive left has finally managed to inflict a critical mass of injuries to our constitutional protections: a critical mass of injuries so severe that we will not now be able to fully recover or maintain our once-cherished rights.

There is currently a certain amount of optimism among conservatives, since the utter ineptitude of the feloniously installed current administration has become obvious even to the most oblivious of citizens. So the political portents bode well for conservatives in the 2022 midterm elections. But I wonder whether that will be a mere political victory of relatively short term value. Even if Republicans take majorities in the Congress, that will not change the underying content of the American character. A Republican victory will likely be driven by such things as inflation and the economy, but will not be reflective of any loyalty to conservative principles such as liberty or independence.

So here is what concerns me. Given the pervasive American infirmity that has now been revealed, what can be expected when the next extended disaster occurs? Autocratic governments and corporations and other power-brokers now have the roadmaps for the implementation of despotism in place and ready to be executed should the the opportunity arise. Let’s say, for example, that the Peoples Republic of China succeeds in engineering a virus which, unlike SARS-CoV-2, is actually really dangerous, a virus which is both highly contagious and also dangerous to a large rather than small percentage of the population. Or suppose the Russians succeed in crippling the U. S. electrical grid with a cyber-attack or an EMP attack, thereby disrupting critical requirements of daily life such as the food supply and utilities. Or – it is not hard to imagine – the current U. S. administration continues to frivolously fulminate about “climate change” and “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity” issues, and thereby drives the U. S. into a prolonged and devastating economic depression which can also disrupt essential aspects of life. Scenarios like these are not unlikely at all, and will provide new excuses for progressive elites to exercise their totalitarian inclinations. And that could be just around the next fateful corner.


1. Public Affairs Office. “USCCB Administrative Committee Release a Pastoral Message on the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.” USCCB:News:2021. March 9, 2021.


As any real conservative knows, the progressive agenda is inimical to foundational elements of society, such as the family. The ongoing destruction of the nuclear family, a critical component of the progressive agenda, is evil for many reasons. But in recent years I have become more aware of one aspect of that destruction, which has to do with its impact on God’s natural blueprint for our lives as expressed in family life, and particularly as expressed in the daily work of a mother and a father.

In our family, Dad is still with us, but Mom died about 4 years ago. She made it to 88, and was bright and alert until she had a serious accident from which she never recovered. After the accident, she was no longer able to communicate effectively, so it was one of those situations where there were so many things that you wish you could have said to her, but it was suddenly too late.

I have discovered since then that Mom meant more to me than I thought she did. It isn’t just that I miss the opportunity to talk to her, ask her opinion on things, or just to give her a hug. I think now that in addition to everything else, Mom meant to me that core sense of belonging that you feel as a child being raised in a family. It is a sense of home, a place of safety and warmth and unconditional love that can be reliably depended upon. And that experience of home is a very important thing. It provides a solid psychological foundation, a safe harbor. By just simply being herself, and doing what comes naturally, Mom cooperated in the design created by God for the nurturing, development, and flourishing of a new generation. And that sense of home that she built along with Dad remains with us, even when we leave home and strike out on our own, and begin our own families, and create that sense of belonging for another generation.

But now Mom is gone, from this life at least, and so is that sense of having a home. She, and the home I once knew, cannot be reached. And so I am all too aware that I am now missing something important in my life. Even though Dad is still here, and I have my own immediate family, and wife and children and now even grandchildren, they cannot replace what has been lost.

What must it be like for those children who have not experienced that solid sense of home? It must be terribly difficult, not having that foundation and that comfort, and having to experience life while lacking the natural love of a mother and a father that God intended for them. While I have only recently experienced that sense of loss, they must face their entire lives knowing something vitally important is missing. Such a fundamental deficiency effected on such a large scale as we have experienced here in the U. S. has to inflict damage, and it is not surprising that as the progressive agenda advances, we see increasing societal disarray.

However, there is some solace that can be gained by understanding that none of us while here on earth have ever been fully at home. The psalms, those ancient words that still today anchor the prayer of the Church, speak to a reality that faces all of us:

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication: give ear to my tears. Be not silent: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were.”

Psalms 38:13, Douay-Rheims Bible

We are actually, all of us, nomads in this life, having experienced perhaps a little of what it is like to be truly home, but always bearing an innate desire for that real home that can only be experienced with God Himself. The Apostle Paul felt this yearning, as described by Pope St Gregory the Great:

“For we already long to come into the presence of God, but we are still hindered by the clog of a mortal body. So that we are justly called ‘prisoners,’ in that we have not as yet the advance of our desire to God free before us. Hence Paul, whose heart was set upon the things of eternity, yet who still carried about him the load of his corruption, being in bonds exclaims, Having a desire to be unloosed and to be with Christ. [Phil. 1, 23] For he would not desire to be ‘unloosed,’ unless, assuredly, he saw himself to be in bonds.” [1]

Perhaps that sense of belonging and home that I first knew as a child was simply a reflection, an echo, of the longing for our real home that God has sowed within us. So that sense of loss that I don’t seem to be able to dismiss is supposed to be there. We are made in the image and likeness of God, the scriptures say [Genesis 1:26-27], and therefore we who have been created by Him will only really be at home when we are with Him.