The wisdom of democracy demands that citizens be willing to accept losses at least some of the time. A nation wherein certain citizens always get their way would, by definition, not be a democracy. As Richard John Neuhaus perceptively wrote in The Naked Public Square, “Every governmental decision produces unhappiness as well as satisfactions.” The seasons of dissatisfaction are tolerable “so long as it is assumed that there will always be another inning, another election, another appeal, another case to be tested.”
What are dissatisfied citizens to do as they await their next opportunity? For guidance, I highly recommend this sermon, preached in Kettering, England, in 1803, by Andrew Fuller. Fuller consistently taught that the Christian’s heavenly citizenship changed his or her relationship to earthly politics. Nevertheless, he urged his generation to seek the welfare of the city in which God had placed them. In this sermon, he expounded upon what Christian patriotism should look like.
Here are a few quotes that speak with astonishing relevance today:
If we seek the good of our country, we shall certainly do nothing, and join in nothing, that tends to disturb its peace, or hinder its welfare. Whoever engages in plots and conspiracies to overturn its constitution, we shall not. Whoever deals in inflammatory speeches, or in any manner sows the seeds of discontent and disaffection, we shall not. Whoever labours to depreciate its governors, supreme or subordinate, in a manner tending to bring government itself into contempt, we shall not. Even in cases wherein we may be compelled to disapprove of measures, we shall either be silent, or express our disapprobation with respect and with regret.
It becomes Christians to bear positive good-will to their country, and to its government, considered as government, irrespective of the political party which may have the ascendency. We may have our preferences, and that without blame; but they ought never to prevent a cheerful obedience to the laws, a respectful demeanour towards those who frame and those who execute them, or a ready co-operation in every measure which the being or well-being of the nation may require.