by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Large parts of eastern Oregon want a divorce.
Eleven rural counties east of the Cascade Mountains want to secede from the urban- dominated western counties to form a state called Greater Idaho.
This is a dramatic example of division in America, but by no means the only one. Americans seem polarized over many things: race, religion, politics, economics, lifestyles, worldviews and more.
Is American society becoming unglued? Are we falling apart?
Not if professor Robert P. George and his friends have anything to say about it. George has begun a movement to inspire Americans to rededicate themselves to the core values that bind together and strengthen the nation.
He decided to pick the month of June to promote these core values and call it Fidelity Month. “Fidelity” means “faithfulness.”
George, a Catholic, is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University in New Jersey. He will begin his 39th year as an educator at Princeton this fall.
He’s an author of several books and magazine articles and has a long list of accomplishments and honors. George has been called one of the foremost philosophers and public intellectuals in the United States.
“Fidelity Month is a movement and an invitation to Americans of all faiths to rededicate ourselves to the core values that used to be sources of strength and unity in our pluralistic society,” said George. “These values are faith in God, faithful marriages and fidelity to family, and love of country and service to community.”
All the evidence indicates that Americans’ commitment to these values has significantly weakened over the past 10 years.
“I point to the most recent polling by the Wall Street Journal that shows that Americans’ belief in the importance of faith in God has declined, our belief in the importance of the family has declined, our belief in the importance of patriotism and love of country has declined. The only value that has seemed to have gone up significantly is people’s sense of the importance of money.”
George floated the idea three or four months ago, and the response from several people was enthusiastic. Soon, a core group of supporters developed to help George. A kick-off webinar to promote Fidelity Month was held on June 1.
“When I saw his proposal to establish June as Fidelity Month on Facebook, it resonated with me,” said Deacon Michael Forrest from the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts. “As a deacon, I hear from so many who are worried about the moral direction of the country and about the fractures that are becoming increasingly bitter and deep.
“The idea of initiating a positive movement to restore our common commitment to the importance of fidelity to God, spouse and family, and country and community — irrespective of one’s religion or political affiliations — struck me as just the medicine we need right now.”
This is truly a grassroots movement. It’s not directed from the top down. There are no officers or ruling organization. George doesn’t want to control or direct anything. He wants people to take these values to heart and make the movement their own.
“Fidelity Month is a positive movement,” said George. “It’s not in reaction to anything. It’s a positive vision to rebuild values that have been very significantly eroded in recent years.
“We believe those values were our sources of strength and unity in our pluralistic nation. . . . So, in the face of that movement in the wrong direction, we want to turn things around, and we want to encourage people by precept and example that the way to rebuild the strength of our country, to reunify this polarized nation, is for all of us to return to what we know in our hearts is right.”
What can be done during Fidelity Month? George has two suggestions.
First, set an example for children and others in the community by speaking out for faith in God, faithful marriage between men and women, love of country and service to the community. Second, visit the website at: Fidelity month.com and learn about what other people are doing to promote the core values. The Fidelity Month logo is free for anyone to use. June 30 has been designated a day of fasting for Fidelity Month.
“I’ve been sharing everything possible about Fidelity Month on social media and with my family, friends, parish and diocese,” said Deacon Forrest. “I had to make sure my family had all the cool Fidelity Month apparel.
“I also had a custom Fidelity Month flag made that came out beautifully. And I’m working on a Fidelity Month prayer and will be fasting and praying with the Fidelity Month team . . . on June 30. We’ll be informally inviting everyone to join with us, and we intend to propose a national day of prayer and fasting in June 2024.”