Americans do not need a religious holiday to turn thought spiritward and refresh themselves. But this Easter season, with its message of resurrection and joy, seems to have timely relevance to a nation's efforts to lift itself out of the dreariness of earthbound problems. That so many signs of national renewal and strength can be seen today is cause for quiet rejoicing without, however, losing sight of the distance to be travelled.
What are these signs? We think, for instance of the near-perfect flight of the space shuttle Columbia which seems to restore America's faith in its technological prowess. Of the stability of the American political system following an attempted assassination of the President. Of the infectious humor and healing resilience of the US leader as he bounds back from adversity. Of the splendid recovery of White House press secretary Jim Brady despite dire forecasts as well as to two other Americans wounded in the shooting incident. Of the new determination in Washington and across the land to revive a lackluster economy and get the country moving again.
Americans long to believe in themselves once more, to shed the uncomfortable feeling that their country has somehow lost its youthful vigor and dominance in the world. The yearning is healthful. But the question is whether, in their self-examination, the American people are probing deeply enough. The temptation is to seek human solutions to human problems, and there is emphasis these days on economic packages, tough anticrime laws, strong defenses. The air fairly crackles with debate over which policy or program will provide the right mix for success.
Will any human equation provide the solution, however, without an energizing of society morally and spiritually? Without an enhancement of its mental climate? Without a vigorous effort to purify it of the greed, dishonesty, selfishness, and other human frailties feeding violence and conflict and to foster the integrity, generosity, love, and compassion which alone cement a human community and which America already has in such great measure?
This is not something for presidential decree or legislative action. It must start with the invigoration of individual lives and spread to the public and collective spheres. If it is sometimes thought that the individual is helpless with all the problems surrouding him, we have the unparalleled example of the master Chrisitian who in the face of crucifixion said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
That, surely, is the great challenge today: for each individual to be so lifted up in his own life that he draws all men unto the highest standard of purity and perfection. Then will the renewal of society and its institutions be assured -- and the nation itself be lifted up. Then will we see the "signs following" -- the practical as well as the spiritual needs of the people tak en care of.