Post: A Republican Exodus?
Our Own Nation!
I watched the Ten Commendments movie last night, starring the late Charlton Heston and directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1956. In one scene, the Lord God gives Moses the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. It ranks as one of the most moving and dramatic scenes in the history of cinema. The Lord God leads Moses up Mount Sinai and carves the Commandments from the stone wall with fiery fingers. DeMille had done his research and knew the fiery fingers would start from the right and write left. Biblical scholars will recognize the Hebrew text from the Gezer Calendar, circa 850 BC, the earliest known example of written Hebrew. The fiery fingers and the dramatic musical score make it a memorable scene, thrilling and triumphant. Then Moses descends from the high place. The few Israelites who have accompanied him up the mountain see him with the two tablets and bow almost involuntarily. The music becomes intimately quiet in tone, with an equally moving effect.
But the movie really tells the Exodus story, of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. In one scene, Moses tells the Children of Israel, living as slaves in Egypt, "Remember, o, Israel, the Lord God has led you out of slavery. Remember this day forever!" Then Moses turns his back on Egypt and marches purposefully toward the endless desert. The Israelites follow him in a noisy parade with their meagre belongings and bleating animals—overjoyed at the prospect of leaving hateful Egypt.
Moses leads the people of Israel out of Egypt, with the promise of a new life in their own country, Israel, the new nation they will establish together. He leads them into seemingly endless desert, but the prospect of their own nation enthralls them. So popular was the movie among Jews, at least one TV network broadcast it every year during Passover.
As they travel farther into the wilderness, however, the people go astray and worship foreign gods. A nation-builder must understand that the Israelites have left behind the controlling structure of the Egyptian yoke. Moses has, to an extent, uprooted them. The independence they once craved may cause their downfall.
Moses retreats to a place high up on Mount Sinai. The Lord God meets him there and hands him the the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets. Now, the Israelites have not just the future of a life in their own national home, they have a leader who will take them there, and also a legal foundation for the new nation to guide their actions.
I had already seen The Ten Commandments several times, and I knew the story by heart. I watched it nevertheless, with the expectation of a people delivered from an intolerable existence as slaves—given the promise of nationhood and accepting the inherent risks of an independent life, in order to "assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station which the laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them," as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.
Surely someone in America can find inspiration from this ancient biblical story and use it to deliver the American people from their dismal acceptance of disunity, browbeating, and fear. With a new vision and a new nation, they can enter a new era of unity, the assurance of shared values, and common sense of purpose.
How Long Must We Tolerate This?
Americans live everyday with a near-fatal political division. It causes heaps of antipathy, paranoia, and resentment, enough to contaminate every man, woman, and child in the nation—as dangerous as the Covid-19, but more gradual and insidious than any virus or incubus. As Americans, we carry on bravely, dealing with the political tirades, waves of accusations from both sides. We hope in our hearts that some superior being will rescue us or blast us into oblivion. Real life shouldn't work like that. We should fix the problems ourselves.
First, we know we have a problem—the political divisions. Our knee-jerk response—"Can't we all just get along?" Lingering collective identity as Americans makes us ask, "Can't we put the unity of the nation above divisive politics?" The lingering American can-do spirit says, "Let's put aside our differences, put our collective shoulder to the wheel, and move the nation forward!" but the rhetoric cannot get into specific how-to's, because there aren't any.
I can say unequivocally that real-life does not work like that. It has not, and it will not. All we do is hide our dislike and mistrust, then wait until someone touches the spring on the jack-in-the-box and knocks our teeth out. For Democrats, Donald Trump hides in the box; for Republicans, the nation's new President Joe Biden. Although they serve as leaders of our country, they also serve as targets of our abuse, in nearly equal measure. I want to radio a warning to mission-control: "America, we have a problem!"
For all his off-putting bluster, former President Trump has made one important contribution to the root of the problem: he goaded Americans into taking sides. The truth is that everyone had already taken sides. Trump just brought the divide into the open—exposed the hidden aspects of it, so that we know we have a problem, and the problem is not Trump. After all, half the nation voted for him. The problem is the diverging directions of the political mandates that the Democrat and Republican leaders advertise to their voters.
The division has already happened. The public needs to wake up and take notice. Our leaders need to start talking constructive changes to head off the inevitable destructive changes that will occur if we do nothing.