Finding our nation’s way forward

Published 7:51 pm Saturday, August 6, 2016

When I first came to Washington, D.C., I kept finding myself getting turned around while driving through the unfamiliar city. There are a lot of one-way roads, street names that change based on quadrants, and the city is laid out in a spoke-and-wheel system, rather than a typical grid system.

The roundabouts and diagonal streets were a far cry from the rural roads I grew up around in Hampton Roads.

I remember a friend once telling me a story about getting lost in D.C. His trick was to look for the Washington Monument. The marble obelisk towers over all other buildings around it, and it can be seen from many places in the city. So no matter how turned around you get, you can look for the Washington Monument and you know where you are. It serves as a 555-foot compass.

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Like the Washington Monument, many of us have something that serves as a compass in our lives. I keep a prayer hanging in a large frame in my Congressional office: “Our Father in Heaven, save us from the conceit which refuses to believe that God knows more about government than we do, and deliver us from the stubbornness that will not seek God’s help.”

That prayer — and ultimately my faith — is a compass for me. No matter what happens, my faith serves as an unwavering guide that both centers me and directs my decisions.

These days, I hear more and more often from people who say they have lost trust in government and become disheartened. It’s not hard to see why. We are an increasingly divided nation, polarized on almost every issue. Uncertainty hangs in the air. Lack of trust creates room for fear — something I sense increasingly in our nation today. We’re facing challenges of a magnitude we have not seen in many years.

And in the middle of the unknown territory that lies ahead is the great question of our time: Where will our nation find our compass? How can we find our true position and see the way forward?

Some believe we will find the answers in a particular leader. Others believe we will find the answer in new government programs or in more regulation. Some say the compass is on the left. Others say it is on the right. While all these things can affect our trajectory as a nation, none of them will innately show us our true north.

But like the Washington Monument, there is a guide that stands above the rest.

More than 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers envisioned a nation free from the tyranny of England. They had no reasonable expectation of success, only a dream. And out of that dream — despite the overwhelming chance of failure, personal ruin, even death — they built a revolution. They built America.

At the core of the experiment was an exceptional combination of freedom rooted in a set of rights, endowed by the Creator, that cannot be taken away from us. These foundations lay the bedrock of liberty and freedom upon which we, as a nation, stand.

They are established in the Declaration of Independence, applied in our Constitution, and echoed across the generations of Americans who have gone before us. Time and again during hardship and trials, we have looked to these truths as a guide. And we’ve always found our way forward.

Our Founders created for us a compass. Our challenges today are different, but the compass remains the same.

As a nation, we may travel down different roads, and sometimes we make wrong turns. Sometimes we may find ourselves in a new place, unfamiliar territory. Sometimes we face challenges that seem impossible to surmount.

But as long as we can keep our eyes fixed on the bedrock of faith and freedom that defines us as a nation, we will always find our way forward.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes represents Virginia’s Fourth District, which includes Suffolk, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit his website at