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Belton: A decline in faith always heralds the doom of civilizations
Belton, Dave
State Rep. Dave Belton

“Democracy is the worst form of government,” said Benjamin Franklin, “except for all the others.”

It’s ironic that in the very same week freedom fighters in Hong Kong are taking to the streets by the thousands waving American flags and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” that we, who actually live in the land of the free, are so divided.

About the author

Dave Belton is a Republican from Buckhead, representing Morgan and Newton counties in the Georgia House of Representatives.

It is a sad fact we, who live in the home of the brave, cannot come to consensus on anything. But it is a difficult truth that as cultures decline, their citizens — especially the prosperous — sink into despair as they refute the beauty and existence of God.

Every great people started in bondage. Later, they find faith in God which gives them the courage to unite against their oppressors. That faith-based courage creates a thirst for liberty. When those believers win their liberty, abundance through the gift of capitalism and freedom make them prosperous and happy.

But soon these people grow skeptical and tired of their abundance. Soon, they slip into complacency. Eventually they complain about the very virtues that made their faith and their civilization great in the first place. Their doubts turn into apathy. Worse, they look for someone else to solve problems that they used to solve for themselves. They ask government to find answers to their myriad of complaints. 

That government, of course, tries to comply. But when that government, no matter how munificent it intends to be, becomes larger and larger in order to solve this growing list of quandaries. The individual, by definition, becomes smaller and smaller …until he — again — slips into bondage.

A decline in faith always heralds the doom of civilizations. It is one of the reasons it is so important to be grateful for our many blessings.

I remember the blessings of a Savior who chose the ultimate humility of being born out of wedlock to an uneducated peasant in a barn. I remember that God himself inhabited the form of corruptible man to live as a pauper in a forgotten land. I remember that He preached about love, forgiveness, equality and tolerance in a revolutionary way that changed the hearts of every man. 

But most of all, I remember that He died for my sins so that despite my wicked ways, I might join Him — someday — in paradise.

I also remember that I live in the most wonderful, most generous, most tolerant, most equal country in the entire world. I remember that it is far better to be a racial minority, or a woman, or any other group in America than anywhere else in the world. I remember that while our leaders do make mistakes, the intent of our policies has always been peace and freedom for all peoples. 

And I know that, though we sometimes offend one another, that forgiveness is far more powerful and productive than manufactured outrage.

After the Constitution was signed at the Convention of 1787, Franklin was asked what had actually been created.

 “A Republic,” he replied, “if you can keep it.” 

Ronald Reagan famously told us, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

I believe the maintenance of our constitutional republic requires piety, patriotism and love for each other. Only if we renew our faith and rekindle our bonds of fellowship can we continue to enjoy the beautiful bounty of the Providence that God has blessed us with.

Merry Christmas.