The pursuit of happiness and the kingdom of God

In a recent column, opinion writer Eugene Robinson argued that a partisan “spirit of revenge” has created dysfunction and threatens the free nation of the United States.

“Republicans have decided not to collaborate with President Obama in fulfilling the most basic obligations of government, preferring to let 'disorders and miseries' fester rather than address them.”

He goes on to state that, in American history, compromise and a spirit of shared enterprise has always been the norm, with the exception of  slavery and the Civil War, and today we face no question of such magnitude.

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Certainly we don’t face a bloody, internal conflagration ending in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, but we do face a question of a magnitude that threatens our happiness at home and our stature as the beacon to the freedom-seeking world. 

Our freedom to pursue happiness through the strong institutions of our culture is threatened by the faux happiness delivered by the hand of government through socialistic programs.  These two avenues of pursuit are mutually exclusive.

There are surprisingly few ways to pursue happiness in this world; worshiping God, loving our neighbor as ourselves, building a family and working.   Each pursuit must be supported by a strong institution.  Allow the institution of one pursuit to falter and a nation’s pursuit of freedom is compromised.

One such faltering institution, a victim in our pursuit of socialism, is the American family.  Today, 40 percent of American children will go to sleep tonight with only one parent in the home.  Children from broken families are two to three times more likely to be victims of child and sexual abuses, do drugs, experience educational, health, emotional and behavior problems, become teen parents and engage in criminal behavior.  The Fatherless Generation website  provides information showing that the news just gets worse. 

When these children grow up, the loss of economic potential and increased government social service costs associated with broken lives increases the tax burden to the point that 66 percent of the goodwill in this country is administered by government, degrading yet another institution vital to the pursuit of happiness, loving our neighbor as our self.

Parental neglect at crucial moments of a child’s life is what hinders the pursuit of happiness in the United States.   Alarm at the explosive costs of government due to the disintegration of the family, particularly the costs associated with primary education, law enforcement and incarceration, produces the acrimony and dysfunction we see today in Washington DC.  It is often talked about but never recognized as both the common denominator in explosive government costs and the starting point in the reform of our culture.

The West, or western civilization, is often referred to as the free world, a term coined during WWII to draw a line of distinction between fascism and Axis powers, and later in the Cold War to draw a line of distinction between capitalism and communism.  The United States is considered to be the leader of nations in the free world and the president of the United States is often referred to as the leader of the Free World.

The Freedom in the World Report, produced by Freedom House, a non-governmental organization, rates the 195 countries of the world as free, partly free and not free.  In 2014, the report finds that 88 countries are free, 48 countries are partly free and 59 countries are not free.

Exceptional nations install governments that guarantee the free pursuit of happiness and free cultures build strong institutions to support the very few and simple ways to pursue happiness.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explained how Martin Luther King cast the civil rights movement in a “new and different light…”   King said the pursuit of civil rights was part of God’s plan; the same destiny that had ended British colonialism in India and slavery in the United States, and that had caused Christ to die on the cross so that he could take away our sins.  It was the newest stage in a movement that had started centuries earlier.  And as such, this new light required new responses, different strategies and behaviors.”  King provided a new approach.

In the 1960’s, civil rights was the new stage of an age old movement and addressing the fatherless child is the newest stage in that movement today.  Addressing it will require new, culture driven responses and different strategies and behaviors.  This dysfunction in Washington DC continues because our leaders are blind to this reality.

Leaders of the free world, particularly in the United States, should pay attention to the simple truth that strong institutions must exist to support the worship of God, the love of our neighbor, the building of families and work.  Knowing this, and responding by finding new responses, strategies and behaviors, is the first step to ending the nauseating partisanship in Washington DC and expanding freedom.  This new light holds the key to building the Kingdom of God, a world of free nations. 

Radanovich represented California's 19th Congressional District from 1995 to 2011.