Obama calls upon Americans to “give our all to a difficult task” and “carry forth a precious gift” of increasingly inclusive liberty, equality, and happiness. We are empowered to do so by meeting new challenges with reaffirmations of old truths that “have been the quiet force of progress”: “honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism.” In perfect harmony, God and American democracy call us to continue a long and difficult tradition imagined as a journey “up the path” of progress. This song is old. But is it true? What are the implications of framing the virtues for progress as a “quiet force”? What is gained and lost by imagining progress singularly as upward movement? [...]Read the rest of This song is old. But is it true?.
Romand Coles is the Frances B. McAllister Chair and Director of the Program for Community, Culture, and Environment at Northern Arizona University. His publications include Beyond Gate Politics: Reflections for the Possibility of Democracy; Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary:Conversations Between a Radical Democrat and a Christian (with Stanley Hauerwas); Rethinking Generosity: Toward a Post-secular Caritas; and Self/Power/Other: Political Theory and Dialogical Ethics.