Phebe Novakovic is the chief executive of General Dynamics, a global aerospace and defense company. She started her national security career at the CIA. You would not expect to find Phebe Novakovic in Occoquan.
And yet, both she and the people of Occoquan are deeply patriotic and share a commitment to democracy.
She recently gave a talk in Boston, covered by The Washington Post. In it, she said, “I’m fiercely patriotic. I’m proud of that. I think we need to have more of a national dialogue about the importance of patriotism and shared values, so I’m not shy about it.”
When asked about the threats facing our country, she didn’t immediately say Russia or China or the Iran. “I worry profoundly about our divisiveness as a nation,” she said.
Without saying who was responsible, Novakovic said “anger and hatred” could be deeply harmful to the United States.
“I worry a lot about the corrosive and cancerous effects of that level of anger and hatred,” she said. “Sometimes it’s flat-out hatred, and that I think is scary. You can destroy yourself much faster than an enemy can destroy you. And, typically, great empires fall from the inside out.”
With words like these, I would not be surprised to find Phebe Novakovic in Occoquan.
In my novel City of Peace, pastor Harley Camden visits the Occoquan Town Hall, which had once been an Episcopal Church. Rows of chairs fill the former worship space, facing the raised chancel in which the town council gathers for monthly meetings. The room feels sacred—not in the sense of Christian holiness, but in terms of respect for local governance, practiced in Occoquan for almost 300 years.
The town is deeply patriotic, with a long-standing commitment to democracy.
But even the Town of Occoquan can experience divisiveness, anger and hatred. In the novel, Harley speaks with a church member named Mary about the ways that residents have talked with one another, and the effect these words have had.
“People have got to communicate well,” he says, “and really talk to each other. Horrible things happen when they fail to do so.”
Mary shakes her head sadly, and then Harley asks her, “Have I preached here about the power of words?”
“No, I don’t think so,” she replies.
“I’m convinced that words create reality,” Harley explains.
“It’s a very biblical idea,” he says. “Think of God creating the world in Genesis, saying ‘Let there be light,’ and there is light. Jesus is described in the New Testament as ‘the Word.’ When Martin Luther King, Jr., said, ‘I have a dream,’ people began to see a vision of a new world of equality. Words create reality.”
“That makes sense, I guess,” says Mary.
“So the words we use are terribly important,” he continued. “Whether we say ‘I love you’ or ‘I hate you’ makes a huge difference. If I say to a friend, ‘I forgive you,’ it actually changes our relationship.” But the words that people so often speak are misleading, harsh, or hateful.
Phebe Novakovic is right: We need a national dialogue about the importance of patriotism and shared values. Words create reality, and they can either bring us together or pull us apart.
Since Harley Camden would agree, he would certainly be happy to see Phebe Novakovic in Occoquan.
What words do you think need to be spoken in this time of divisiveness? Join the conversation through a comment below.
This anger and hate she speaks of is most obvious towards our President.I am most disturbed about our liberal media always spewing lies about him and what he is accomplishing for our nation.There is a prevailing atmosphere of anger and hate covering our nation towards him,and that extends also to the people who like what he is accomplishing.My heart breaks when I see my fellow church members sharing things degrading,slanderous,and untrue about him.I have learned as a Christian we don’t try to tear people down or distroy them.I wonder if they know this,and why are they acting like non Christians.As Christians,we pray for people and try to build them up rather than tear them down.A glaring an almost unbelievable example of this hate was Trump’s Salute To America.It was beautiful and patriotic on The Fourth Of July.It was a tribute to our history,and was non partisan.It was a beautiful celebration of our nation’s birthaday.It was intended to bring us together at the very least for this day.All of the liberal media tried to destroy it before it happened with lies,and afterwards they still lied about it.Not one gave it a fair appraisal.If you didn’t see it,go to utube and watch it.It was covered by C-Span also.When the liberals continue to spew hate for Donald Trump they are destroying our country from within.This hate is manifested thru the liberal colleges also when they shut down free speech as well.This hate goes back to the 2016 election when Trump won by a landslide electoral college vote.He worked hard,and went everywhere with many places twice.He had a message that many people liked in many states.Trump ran for president because he loves America,and he saw things he knew how to do to make it better,and he has.The economy has boomed under this President,and when the economy is good jobs are created.The unemployed rate is lowest ever for everybody.This President gives his salary back by donating it to a different federal agency every quarter.We know from the Bible there is not a ruler anywhere that God didn’t put in place.He has withstood the attacks and unwarranted Russia collusion investigation because God wants him right where he is.He has a past that wasn’t pretty, and the left is unforgiving and has stuck themselves in it without looking at what he is doing now.Even King David,the man after God’s own heart,sinned big time,and God forgave him.This hate for Trump is the most destructive enemy to our nation.Thank God this CEO of General Dynamics is speaking out about anger and hate in our nation.How will it stop ? God bless you,Henry, for writing about this.Words matter,and truthful words matter most ,and will set us free of this anger and hate.❤️❤️❤️
Thank you, Linda, for being part of the conversation!
Linda, the President tells lie after lie. He does the opposite of Biblical teaching with regard to God’s children who are trying to enter this country. His foreign policy is erratic and irrational. He lost the popular vote in the last election. God puts all rulers into place? He put Hitler into place? He put Stalin into place? What utter nonsense.
Thanks, Tom, for your comment.
Thank you,Tom Stanley, for your reply.The massive popular vote in NY and Ca was exactly what the forefathers foresaw.The electoral college was put in place so smaller state’s votes counted,and that the larger states would be counted more fairly.We have elected Presidents this way for over two hundred years. I believe you know this. Granted, the President does exaggerate,I know other people who do also,and in the big important things their word is kept as it is with Tump .The conversation Henry has put out to us is about anger and hate.What words need to be spoken in this time of divisiveness ? I think “I don’t agree with you,but I am going to like you anyway.” Peace.
“Let every person be suject to governing authorities.For there is no authority except from God,and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13: 1 RSV
This one is bonus.
“First of all,then,I urge that supplications,prayers,intercessions,and thanksgivings be made for all men,for kings and all who are in high positions,that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life,godly and respectful in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1,2 RSV