Every American should visit Washington, D.C. Last week my husband, sons and I visited our nation’s capitol and left with our cynicism overwhelmed by renewed love of country and the spirit of patriotism. At every governmental building we visited, our history and great form of governmental rule — the Democratic Republic — came to life in the quotes on the walls, in the monuments and at every site which witnessed to the spirit of a nation built by many different people for all the people.
I am embarrassed to say that until our tour of the Capitol building I did not know that E Pluribus Unum meant Out of Many…One, nor that it was our country’s motto. It is the title of the film the Capitol tour presents and as we watched I became painfully aware that I had a lot to learn.
The film showed how our Founding Fathers’ sacrifice and vision of a diverse people uniting for the common good gave us the freedom we enjoy today. It spoke of the three branches of government designed to govern equally and, through compromise and common sense, to provide for a society where all people are offered the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness as are our inalienable rights endowed by our Creator.
As we filed out, I heard several people snickering that our congressional representatives should see this movie. I agree, but so should every American. The movie made me realize our form of government is not broken. It works because it is founded on the idea of the dignity of every person and that our rights come from God. What has been lost is the notion of sacrifice, compromise and — most of all — seeking unity and common ground. Most citizens will agree that our congressional representatives have let the protection of their own well-being and views of what they think ‘should be,’ cloud their duty to sacrifice and their responsibility to seek unity among diversity.
After this thought, I realized I could also point a finger at myself. Often I criticize other Catholics because they’re not practicing our faith as I think they should. Do I know all that the Catholic faith professes or have I, too, let my own views cloud my duty as a daughter of God and my responsibility to reflect Truth with love to all?
That afternoon as we rested in the hotel, I took out my Kindle and added to my summer reading list the Constitution and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Just as the Constitution is the ‘rule of law’ of the United States of America, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the ‘rule of law’ of the Catholic faith. “We the People” begins the Constitution and “We Believe” begins the Catechism.
Our Constitution, given to us at great sacrifice by our Founding Fathers, still works— as does the teaching of the Catholic Church, given to us at the ultimate sacrifice by Jesus Christ. Our week in Washington, D.C. taught me that a system founded on the principles of God will always work.
What doesn’t work is when We the People are ignorant of what We Believe.