Perhaps the most forgotten treasure of Western Civilization is its conception of multilayered identity, each layer corresponding to a good in the hierarchy of values. First and foremost, Man is the Imago Dei, the rational Icon of God, capable of truly willing Good for himself and others. He exists as a Person, with a unique vocation and role to play in the story of Humanity. As a person, he exists as part of a Family, the result of a miraculous intervention by God in the union of two other persons. His family exists as part of a Culture, the local expression of his Nationality (or as is often the case Nationalities), habits of life and art, and that nation exists as part of a broader cultural sphere of nations, constantly diversifying and changing each other in countless ways. As part of the natural communities of nation and family, he also exists in intentional communities, ordered consciously to the Common Good of all persons. These intentional communities also exist on multiple levels, Locality, Region, Country, Civilization, and Humanity itself.
His interaction with all of these communities involves countless conscious choices towards a greater Good than oneself, ultimately in form of the Good of Salvation given by the Church, and the ultimate end of Human flourishing found in civilization. For that flourishing to become realized, these communities are organized politically with certain members of society taking on social offices, known collectively as “the State,” primarily tasked with defending the Natural Law. Allegiance to Country, State, and Nation all form distinct and yet cooperative facets of identity, related in subsidiary form.
It is important to remember that though defined and divided in these important ways, all of Christendom exists as a single People of God, and while nations and countries both come and pass away through history, God has set up Christendom as a people “that shall never be destroyed… and it shall break in pieces and shall consume all these kingdoms, and itself shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:44)