America has a new president along with calls for unity, but it remains unclear whether or how America will be able to unite and move forward.

Part of the problem is that it’s exhausting to figure out how the average person should approach politics these days, especially since almost any online statement or vote or decision to participate is met with controversy and disdain. Sincere, hardworking Americans continue to witness atrocities in the name of some perspective or other. Notwithstanding rhetoric about unity, Americans across the country may feel even more discouraged than ever that it’s possible. Yet many still want to contribute something positive.

The truth is every time our nation has been in a crisis, we have been able to pull ourselves out by turning to God and unifying in faith. This is a type of unity that may be possible to achieve again.

What do we have today that can unify the entire country? In the old days, it was religion. While religious observance has declined slightly over the years, a majority of Americans (55%) still say they pray at least once daily and 24% say they participate in a weekly prayer group.

It would be wise that we as a country turn back to providence. There is something in it that can unite us.

From the very beginning, when the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Harbor, they signed the Mayflower Compact which united them together in a faith, an oath of obedience and charity so that God would preserve them from a merciless new land in return.

George Washington also understood this. A sometimes-forgotten flag, one of the first revolutionary flags to be hoisted by our founding fathers, brandishes a picture of a tree with 16 branches which reads “An Appeal to Heaven” or “Appeal to Heaven.” It was used by George Washington’s navy, waved over their ships as they defended the Boston Harbor. These men — who lived in a time of confusion and civil unrest — understood the words which were not inspired by a politician, but rather a philosopher. In John Locke’s published “Second Treatise of Government,” he wrote these words:

“[W]here the body of the people, or any single man, is deprived of their right, or is under the exercise of a power without right, and have no appeal on earth, then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven, whenever they judge the cause of sufficient moment.”

Some argue that John Locke’s words were not about prayer, but rather implying that the people have inalienable rights that cannot be infringed upon and that open rebellion is often necessary to preserve those rights. I would argue that there is more to it. I interpret this statement as such: When the individual is no longer fairly represented by any governmental authority on earth, he/she must turn to heaven.

Martin Luther King and Ghandi both understood the power of relying on something greater than themselves to unite people. They also lived out peaceful and even quiet protests, which were not meant to convert those who would attack them with bloodlust, but those who sat on the sidelines, hesitant and confused over what choice to make and which side to pick.

In other words, faith, compassion and kindness is what will win the arguments of today. And seeking providence may give us a common goal.

I’m not even speaking for a specific side. The real question is, which of the “sides” or perspectives will be the first to be peaceful and compassionate, so as to convince the rest of America that sits on the sidelines with hesitance, to take their side? Almost nothing stirs a hesitant soul more than sympathy and compassion.

There is a discouragement in politics that has plagued the public as bad as the COVID-19 pandemic. So many citizens have subjected themselves to the belief that their votes really no longer matter, that Congress and the Senate no longer give any consideration for the public and that the average person has no control over what happens to their country, business and opportunities to worship their faith anymore.

While there is no reason to give up on civic engagement and plenty of ways to get involved, there may be a simpler work for each of us to do in uniting behind prayer or providence.

Faith in God led to unity around a cause, and unity led to the most successful system of government the world has ever seen. What would happen if the country united in faith once again and “Appeal to Heaven” as the flag states. So, the question is: If unity of faith is not what pulls this country out of its tumultuous times, what will be the nation’s remedy?

Michael Fairbanks is a resident of the Utah Valley. He was born in San Diego California, and acquired his bachelors in business management from BYU-Idaho.

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