John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States, writing in the year 1787 (from The Federalist), stated that, “Weakness and division at home would invite dangers from abroad, and that nothing would tend more to secure us from them than union, strength, and good government within ourselves.”
I am entirely for a strong national defense. I come from a military family and I would argue that safety is the first and foremost responsibility of any government. Having said that, I would also point to my ministerial background and remind us all of the timeless truth, that, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Like Justice Jay, I would also argue that our long-term security equally depends on national unity and good governance. Keep in mind, unity does not mean uniformity. We do NOT have to think the same, act the same, look the same, believe the same, etc. Unity is being joined as one whole, or more properly in this context, as one nation in spite of our differences. It means we willingly lay aside our self-interests for the common interest. It is a willingness to listen to the views of differing opinions rather than seeking to shout them down because they dare to disagree. It is the willingness to work toward a consensus that brings benefit to as many as possible rather than insisting solely on “my way or the highway.”
Neither terrorism nor any other foreign threat are the greatest dangers in this modern age. Rather, our gravest national threat is our own divisive nature and growing tendency toward ideological polarization and heightened social and political disunity. Our nation’s greatest challenge is to find a way to once again see ourselves as joined by a common desire for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and to once again recognize that a healthy nation is, far and away, the safest nation.