The leader must recognize that politics alone do not create a nation; a whole network of cultural, religious and social factors play an important role. Nation-building, therefore, is not solely a political operation, active encouragement must also be given to the development of drama, poetry, literature, art, sport and every other activity through which the spirit of the people expresses itself. A nation held together only by political forces is a drab barracks of a place, and more than this, such links are transient. For it is of the essence of politics that things change, whereas a nation must have a framework which does not collapse whenever radical political change occurs.
I am often chided by my friends, concerned for my health, about the amount of time I give to attending functions which they regard as minor aspects of the nation’s life. Hoard your energy, they plead, for the great areas of political decision-taking and let one of your subordinates do the honors at these cultural occasions. But for me, a YMCA function, a Church service, an Arts Festival, or a football match are not minor aspects of the nation’s life. They are arteries through which the vital fluid of nationhood flows. Zambia’s first original contribution to the world’s music, art, or literature, our first international sports star or entertainer, will be landmarks of nationhood as momentous as a mighty dam, a modern airline, or an international highway.
The will of our people is expressed through the political channel, but their soul shines through their culture. May I quote at you some of your own words:
Nationalism is not enough. Healthy nations cannot be built upon mass allegiances. The people must be integrated into smaller and more concrete social units than the national movement. The only firm foundation of the nation is a network of interlocking relationships at the grass roots, beginning with the family, stretching outwards through local associations to the larger community.
Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).