There is a great open pasture land before Tarheels. It is the future. As we, the people of North Carolina, stand before the uncharted terrain of another year, it is crucial to exercise situational awareness, a concept deeply ingrained in military strategy. This year is particularly significant for our state, with governor elections, crucial legislative decisions, and pivotal movements in education reform and economic policies. These factors compel us to be acutely aware of our state’s historical context and current circumstances as we move forward.

Our situation today, both within North Carolina and globally, is fraught with incredible challenges and opportunities. The upcoming governor elections in our state are not just political contests; they are a referendum on the direction in which we want our state to move. The leaders we elect must embody wisdom and foresight, steering North Carolina towards prosperity while upholding our cherished values.

Education reform is a beacon in our quest for progress. We must ensure our policies not only uphold academic excellence but also instill the rich heritage and values that are the bedrock of our Tarheel State. This involves teaching our youth about democracy, civic engagement, and the value of hard work and responsibility, preparing them to be informed, responsible citizens.

Our legislative body must also display wisdom, particularly in crafting policies that encourage business growth and innovation. The upcoming year is crucial for revising tax policies to make North Carolina a more attractive destination for new and relocating businesses. Taxation has often served as a material manifestation of an ideal of personal liberty and governmental overreach. For the state that finds our identity in the Halifax Resolves (April 12, 1776) and the Mecklenburg Resolution (May 20, 1775) we should lead the nation in lower taxes to spur more business and, thus, more revenue to improve the services to our citizens.

The threats we face are multifaceted, including heightened physical dangers due to policy missteps and an ideological shift that threatens the moral and spiritual fabric of our society.

The secular age, as Professor Charles Taylor aptly describes, brings a philosophy of excarnation, a withdrawal or denial of God from men, leading to a state of moral hollowness. This prevailing moral decay threatens not only the foundational truths about humanity and life but extends to every aspect of our society, including the dignity of work, rule of law, and the pursuit of excellence.

As we navigate these complex issues in our beloved state, we draw strength from our history. The American spirit, shaped by the godward vision of our forebearers, including the Pilgrims of New England and the missionary-minded settlers of Jamestown and Roanoke Island, continues to influence us. This self-awareness has led us, in invariably difficult times, to turn to God and experience large-scale spiritual renewal. These historical moments of awakening have been significant in shaping a renewed national spirit.

As we step into 2024, North Carolina carries a storehouse of good seeds, inherited from our forebearers, coupled with the vestiges of a rich Western civilization. We have the opportunity to drink from the deep wells dug by our fathers. Parents and teachers have the crucial role of training up a generation in scripture, in the great books, and in the study of ideas that fostered a civilization of material blessings, human flourishing, and a desire for God-given rights.

In this pivotal year for North Carolina, let us be aware of both the dangers and the legacy of truth that brings liberty. This is the freedom Jesus spoke of, a truth that sets us free (John 8:32). As we look out over the new year’s unplowed fields and forests, let us not simply hope for the best. Instead, let us practice situational awareness, recognize the challenges, and dedicate ourselves to spreading the seeds of truth, wisdom, and liberty.

We stand on the shoulders of a free and wise people, looking out over a new year with the confidence that “where sin abounds, grace abounds even more” (Romans 5:20). Therefore, let us go forward with confidence and hope, grounded in truth, as we enter the Mountains, Piedmont, and Coast of Carolina with a confidence born of truth.