A national chrysalis
I was born in 1933 in North Dakota, and lived through a great period of change in the early part of my life. And I truly believe we are entering what I choose to call another “chrysalis.”
What is a “chrysalis?” It is the life stage of growth when a caterpillar, underneath a protective chrysalis covering, begins to turn itself into a beautiful butterfly.
The Twentieth Century Chrysalis
The “Roaring Twenties” came to an end in October of 1929 when the stock market crashed. Then the mid-west drought crashed the agricultural sector and the Great Depression began.
The depression mandated that we support each other. Our individualism was balanced with dependence upon neighbors and relatives. My childless uncle and aunt provided me shoes and a new overall each school year. During the summer we went barefoot except for church services and the rare trip to the big city of Fargo. We didn’t have a lot of “stuff,” but we had each other. This was the caterpillar stage.
The chrysalis stage began with the New Deal (1933 to 1939) where the Federal government was our savior. Congress acted to provide infrastructure jobs via the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) etc. President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935.
But WWII arrived just as we were getting on our feet! America plunged into support of the war effort. We sacrificed food, rationed gas, and bought war bonds in support of our government. This bound us together into a United States against Japan, Germany and Italy. We revered our government because, with God’s help, it had transformed America from a depressed caterpillar into a mighty, magnificent “butterfly” that demonstrated democracy and success.
The Transition Period
Things have dramatically changed during my adulthood. Fast forward to today, it seems as though we have returned to the “larva period” where the caterpillar is in chrysalis again on its way to becoming a butterfly. We have a great heritage to retain and further develop as a nation.
In 1782, E Pluribus Unum, which means “out of many, one,” was imprinted on the Great Seal of the United States. We are indeed a diverse nation “out of many.” Individualism is a wonderful aspect of God’s creation. However, we should not revert to the ancient Biblical days where “Everyone did whatever seemed right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) As God’s people, we need to work together, as one, for the good of all humankind.
The Twenty First Century Chrysalis
I believe that the coronavirus has brought America to a new chrysalis stage. We are now a depressed caterpillar. This pandemic is a world changer. But could it be that we are about to begin an awesome transformation?
This isn’t about politics. I am a Christian who believes God made us for relationships, We are an inter-dependent society which means that we must work together.
Democracy requires a blend of individualism and institutionalism. Like the caterpillar, what is God calling us to leave behind? Like the butterfly, what is God calling us to become?
And, how quickly can this transformation occur? In his March, 2020 essay, “The Coronation,” author Charles Eisenstein reminds us of our potential when he applies it to COVID-19: “Look at the radical changes we are making in our social behavior, economy, and the role of government in our lives. Covid-19 demonstrates the power of our collective will when we agree on what is important. What else might we achieve in coherency?”
In my opinion, our national metamorphosis will require repentance, wisdom, and reliance upon God’s grace which has sustained us through all manner of changes and trials in the past, and will not fail us now. My prayer is: “Lord, as we go through this chrysalis, we need a new vision of cohesiveness. Please provide us with an extraordinary new revelation of how to better blend individualism and institutionalism. Help us to truly become a beautiful butterfly that reflects You! And help us to discover afresh what it means to become: “One nation— under God—, indivisible,— with liberty —and justice —for ALL.”