Kathryn Lopez

"Ultimately, the success of a nation depends on the character of its citizens," Bush said. Even in the midst of terrorist attacks, we saw some beautiful characters. Like the Marine who'd lost his legs to war, visiting the hospital rooms of Boston marathon runners and bearing a message of hope.

When the news broke that former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher had died, an insightful interview with her resurfaced, in which she talked about her faith and sense of mission. She said: "Christianity is about more than doing good works. It is a deep faith which expresses itself in your relationship to God. It is a sanctity, and no politician is entitled to take that away from you or to have what I call corporate state activities which only look at interests as a whole."

She also said: "Governments aren't Big Brother ... If you treat people as so many pawns on a chessboard, you have no Christian base, no religious base, no religion at all. It's as if the whole of religion had come to: 'What can governments do about these things?'"

As we struggle with fear and violence and hope, it's important to reflect on these things. Freedom -- to believe, not to believe, to infuse our politics with a purpose greater than our own strategies, ideologies and personal ambitions. Knowing that our politics reflects the character of our citizens ought to keep us from giving up on it.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.