By Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
The disturbance of the family life in America is more desperate than at any other period in our history. The family is the barometer of the nation. What the average home is, that is America. If the average home is living on credit, spending money lavishly, running into debt, then America will be a nation which will pile national debt on national debt, until the day of the Great Collapse.
If the average husband and wife are not faithful to their marriage vows, then America will not insist on fidelity to the Atlantic Charter or any other pact, and the Four Freedoms.
If the husband and wife live only for self, and not for each other, if they fail to see that their individual happiness is conditioned on mutuality, then we shall have a country where capital and labor fight like husband and wife, both making social life a barren and economic peace impossible.
If the husband or wife permits outside solicitations to woo one away from the other, then we shall become a nation where alien philosophies will infiltrate as communism sweeps away that basic loyalty which was known as patriotism and liberty.
If husband and wife live as if there is no God, then America shall have bureaucrats pleading for atheism as a national policy, repudiating the Declaration of Independence and denying that all rights and liberties come to us from God. It is home which decides the nation.
Every country gets the kind of government it deserves. As we live in the home, so shall the nation live? There are unmistakable signs that America is rotting from within.
If a husband and a wife feel justified in disrupting a marriage because there has been some mismanagement in a home, then why not repudiate the nation because there has been some mismanagement in its government? A people who are not loyal to a home will not be loyal to a flag.
Unless America reverses the attitude toward the family and ceases to try to make a success in the domain wherein Russia proved to be a failure, then, apart from all moral and religious considerations, three disastrous consequences will follow. First of all, America will be in danger of becoming a nation of traitors. … Once there is a citizenry that does not feel bound to the most fundamental the most natural and most democratic of all self-governing commonwealths, the home, it will not be long until it no longer feels bound to a nation. The traitors to the home today are the traitor to the nation tomorrow.
A second possible danger to a nation that does not arrest the decay of the family is the creation of a mentality that will refuse to make sacrifices, suffer trials and inconveniences for the sake of the protection of our country. In families, each one learns to renounce the “mine” in the “ours” of the community. The family is a training school in self-discipline, the crushing of egotism for the sake of the group, and the learning of the supreme lesson of living with others for the sake of others, the Common Good.
Is it “For Better or for worse”? The fewer sacrifices a man is required to make, the more loath he is to make those few. His luxuries become necessities, children a burden and the ego a god. Whence will come, our heroes of a nation, if we no longer have heroes in a home? If a man will not put up with the trials of a home, will he put up with the trials of a national crisis? The Political or Economic Moral Challenge is a Crisis.
When we were Christian, heroism was overshadowed by holiness, but as Christianity ceased to cast the shadow of the cross on the family, luxury and self-will took the place of it…. Once sacrifice is separated from the home, sacrifice is uprooted from nation.
Only a nation that recognizes that sweat, toil, hardship and sacrifice are normal aspects of life, can save itself—and this is first learned in the home. … On the occasion of the fall of France in 1940, a French general gave the failure of the family to perpetuate itself as the basic reason for the nation’s debacle and its doom.
America is not in danger from the outside, but it is in grave danger from the inside. The internal danger can become the source of external danger.
Thirdly, the decline in the family life is intrinsically bound up with the decline in democracy. Here democracy is understood in its philosophical sense as a system of government which recognizes the sovereign worth of all men, and the repudiation of all inequalities based on race, color and class. But where in the entire world is the dogma of the worth of man better preserved and practiced than in the family?
The Family is the training school and the novitiate for democracy. When a nation ceases to put the highest value on the home, it will not be long before it ceases to put a value on the person.
Beyond and behind all the schemes and blueprints of ‘politics and economics’, there is nothing more fundamental to the revival of true democracy than the restoration of the family. In that circle shall our citizens learn that there is other wealth than paper wealth, paper money, paper stocks, paper joys, namely, the tingling, vibrating wealth of children, the unbreakable bond between husband and wife, the pledge of democracy, and the future heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.
God Love You!
-Excerpts from– “Communism and the Conscience of the West” The Bobbs-Merrill Company Indianapolis / New York, 1948