Memorial Day 2015: Wake Up America Day!

WWI Poster Cantigny  09-21-2013 061

 

 

 

“People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” Edmund Burke

U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division Museum, Cantigny

U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division Museum, Cantigny, Wheaton, IL

 

 

 

 

 

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana (empahsis mine)

 

Fourth of July father and son, Cantigny

Fourth of July father and son, Cantigny

Modern liberalism, for most liberals is not a consciously understood set of rational beliefs, but a bundle of unexamined prejudices and conjoined sentiments. The basic ideas and beliefs seem more satisfactory when they are not made fully explicit, when they merely lurk rather obscurely in the background, coloring the rhetoric and adding a certain emotive glow. James Burnham (emphasis mine)

 

 

"The Spirit of Commitment" by Jeff Adams - Cantigny - Wheaton IL

“The Spirit of Commitment” by Jeff Adams – Cantigny – Wheaton IL

 

 

 

It is not that liberals, when they enter the governing class…never make use of force; unavoidably they do, sometimes to excess. But because of their ideology they are not reconciled intellectually and morally to force. They therefore tend to use it ineptly, at the wrong times and places, against the wrong targets, in the wrong amounts. James Burnham

 

7-4-2013 Cantigny COMMITMENT 2

Under Progressivism, criminals are ‘victims’.

Under Progressivism the healthy and productive are the ones to be coerced.

Wake Up America!
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American Composer Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) wrote “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Here it is performed both traditionally and surprisingly.

As a big fan of Aaron Copland and of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) and as a trumpet player I am commending this to you. Enjoy (and certainly remember the cost of liberty) this Memorial Day 2015!

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“The Spirit of Commitment” by Jeff Adams

U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division Museum

All photos © Sally Paradise, 2015, All Rights Reserved

 

 

HOW to COMMENCE: “Fail Big; Be Grateful, Seek Wisdom, Get On Your Knees…”

Denzel Washington’s remarkable commencement speech points these graduates forward and away from, hopefully, the dead-end route of Marxist black liberation theology.

Denzel speaks of God-given human desire, of aspirations beyond one’s self, of failing big, of seeking wisdom from above out of a heart of gratefulness and a daily dependence on God. All of these characteristics, he concludes, culminate in a life that makes a difference for the good toward the graduate and to the others he or she may encounter.

Here is something else to ruminate on:

“Today, many people, especially academics, assume that intellectual work takes places in the objective world of the hard sciences, and that the more you move in the direction of the so-called arts, especially things like metaphysics and theology, the more you are simply talking nonsense about nothing. This is the function of Epicurean assumptions, not of the hard sciences themselves; many periods and cultures have developed sophisticated scientific work without assuming that you had to split off from other kinds of knowledge.

Nevertheless, many leading scientists today were brought up on the split-world viewpoint. Some have even, with unintended irony, made it an article of faith that one should not allow articles of faith into the classroom or laboratory….the mistake… of confusing science with scientism, of placing the proper and wise investigation of the natural world within the worldview of Epicureanism, which itself is unproved and indeed unprovable.

So, what’s the alternative? Here, perhaps to the surprise of some, the Christian worldview has a great deal to offer, when you trace it back to its beginnings in ancient Israel, then to Jesus and the writings of the first two or three Christian centuries. The category that emerges again and again in the scriptures and the great teachers of the faith is wisdom, sophia in Greek, Chokma in Hebrew….Wisdom (being) what you need, according to scripture, to become genuinely, fully human. And genuine, fully rounded humanity is what our culture, with its pretense of religion and its variety of unnamed but powerful gods, has been remarkably short of.” (emphasis mine) N.T. Wright, “Surprised by Scripture.”

Our ability to imagine, to intuit and to be wise has been greatly damaged by education that presupposes a fact/value split.

“What renders man an imaginative and moral being is that in society he gives new aims to his life which could not have existed in solitude: the aims of friendship, religion, science, and art.” George Santayana

Regarding “Epicurean assumptions” see my previous posts:

Aren’t You A Bit Epicurious?

Aren’t You a Bit Solipsistic?

Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-Ware v. 2.015

One Nation Under Epicurus?

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This post is dedicated to my nephew Joseph (Joe) who has just graduated from high school. The open house is next Saturday. Congrats Joe!

Joe, I know that you already have God-given desires in your heart. May God grant you the desires of your heart. And don’t forget. Enjoy the ride and “Every girl’s crazy about a sharp dressed” grad.

Redemption and Grace and Our Father’s Car

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Redemption: Our Father in heaven saw that what He had created was good but that man’s sin was destroying what had been created-relationships, the earth and hope.

Our Father in heaven declared through Old Testament Scriptures that a huge price had to be paid to redeem the lost and hurting world. A “suffering servant” was prophesied to us through Israel’s prophet Isaiah. So, God sent his Son to pay that price.

Sure there were others who raised their hands bidding in hope of redemption but they always came up short. Only the Man Christ Jesus could pay the ultimate price of redemption so that we, adopted children, could be given the keys to the Kingdom and drive Our Father’s car.

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“But now, quite apart from the law (though the law and the prophets bore witness to it), God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith. For there is no distinction: all sinned, and fell short of god’s glory-and by God’s grace they are freely declared to be right, to be members of the covenant, through the redemption which is found in the Messiah Jesus.” (Emphasis mine.) The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Rome, chapter 3: 21-24

 

But when it comes to mercy, God is rich! He had such great love for us that he took us at the very point where we were dead through our offenses, and made us alive together with the king. (Yes, you are saved by sheer grace!) He raised us up with him, and made us sit with him-in the heavenly places, in King Jesus! This was so that in the ages to come he could show just how unbelievably rich his grace is, the kindness he has shown to us in Christ Jesus.” (Emphasis mine.) The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Ephesus, chapter 2: 4-7

 

Jesus speaking to his eager-to-be-first disciples:

If any of you wants to be first, he must be slave of all. That’s how it is with the son of man: he didn’t come to have servants obey him, but to be a servant-and to give his life as ‘a ransom for many’. (Emphasis mine.) The Gospel according to eyewitness Matthew, chapter 20:28.

So You Want to Give World Peace to Your Mother for Mother’s Day?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

World Peace. Now there’s something your mother would love-the kids not fighting! But it will take some doing. FTD is not showing this item on their webpage. Hallmark may have a singing “What a Wonderful World” gift card. Good luck finding that one right now.

In the meantime-between War and Peace, that is-I suggest that you at least call mom and thank her for her wisdom, her support and her prayers on your behalf.

 

World Peace. If you think about it world peace comes when the world is ordered in such a way that man, a free moral agent, doesn’t repeat the history of self-centered reason leading to violence and to exclusion. I’ll tell you what I mean a little bit later in the post.

To better understand man’s secular attempts at world order read former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s new book “World Order.”

As a foreign diplomacy expert and an experienced and well-read confidant of several presidents and policy institutes, Kissinger provides the reader of “World Order” years of insight into centuries of cultures, societies and homogenous people groups that have formed political entities. In the aggregate, these entities whether during strife or in peace, would become known as the “world order.”

World Order by Henry Kissinger

World Order by Henry Kissinger

Out of a political will based mainly on reasons of security through power, countries with formal boundaries and armies would form. But, this did not happen without the give and take of diplomacy and frequent battles over territorial claims. The flux of national wills would determine the world order at any given moment.

Today’s tenuous world order, as viewed from the U.S., includes aggressive-always seeking to expand Russia, passive-aggressive imperial China, the tinder-box known as the Middle East and the ever obtuse North Korea.

Today’s world order also includes the incendiary radical Islamists who are central to Iran’s deployed political will of “do or die” theocracy. There are non-state terrorist groups aligned with Iran. All this and sectarian strife: neighbor against neighbor.

As I see it, the stability of today’s world order borders on chaos. Cyber black-hat communities and international terrorists may hack, steal, deface and destroy information systems necessary for a nation’s financial and political security. There are no territorial borders in cyberspace, no rules of engagement, no easily determined policy of retaliation and only a faint hope in a firewall as means of deterrence. As technology rapidly advances, Kissinger warns, so do the implications of world order rapidly taking a turn for the worst.

In talking about the role of internet as it affects human consciousness by tailoring truth to the user Kissinger notes, “Western history and psychology have heretofore treated truth as independent of the personality and the prior experience of the observer. Yet, our age is on the verge of a changed conception of the nature of truth…

The concept of truth is being relativized and individualized-losing its universal character. Information is being presented as being free. In fact, the recipient pays for it by supplying data to be exploited by persons unknown to him, in ways that further shape the information being offered to him”

On the same page Kissinger asks, “Where, in a world of ubiquitous networks, does the individual find the space to develop the fortitude to make decisions that by definition, cannot be based on consensus?

AND thanks to nebulous foreign policy decision-making by the Obama White House, nuclear proliferation is increasing! Nuclear armament is now considered a necessity by countries such as Sunni Saudi Arabia. The Saudi are concerned about Shia Iran and nuclear asymmetry.

Currently, U.S. foreign policy appears to be a policy based primarily on President Barack Obama’s vision of himself and his desired legacy. Could it be that Obama wants to see himself as egalitarian with Iran to the point of doing to Israel what he does to America over and over?

The only sure thing we have learned about Barack Obama’s World Order policies which effect both domestic and foreign issues is that Obama’s allegiance is to his far left political ideologies and has never been with America and its lessons-learned traditional values. Oh sure, nice ‘flowery’ speeches are made in kabuki theater-like moments but his passive-aggressive actions and his evocative denigrating words are reminders of his early-60’s radicalized mindset. He is not for peace. Obama is a divider of classes, races and genders. World Peace is the last thing on Obama’s mind. He wants “transformational change”, whatever that is. It could mean that the U.S. becomes the People‘s Republic of Obama.

Remember, Obama was mentored by radical leftists, leftists who pledged their allegiance to the “Goddamn America!” flag. Barack Obama was taught to denigrate America within a vision of world order that does not embrace our historical roots. Those roots are of no value to him.

Obama mentions Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King and yet has no clue as to the depth of moral character or the extent of sacrifice each of these larger than life men had brought to America. These two men so endeavored with their prayers and decisions to bring about reconciliation and peace, not Obamic division for political gain.

Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” reveals to us that he is always looking over his shoulder, looking for Jim Crowism, for colonialism, for unabashedly proud Americans. He wants to shame America and Israel into submission to his political will, a will that only knows a radicalized world order. Little wonder he ‘empathizes’ with the Iranians, giving them the benefit of many realized doubts. But, that’s enough writing about our lame-blame President. He will be out of office in twenty months. Mothers, rejoice!

 

  1. Let’s start over.

So you want to give World Peace to your mother for Mother’s Day? It will take some effort on your part to make this happen.

First I recommend to you Miroslav Volf’s book, “Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation”. This book is mentioned in a video within my post “The Problem of Evil, A Good God and a Different Way to Be Human“. N.T. Wright brings up the book while discussing forgiveness.

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

Here is one passage from the chapter, “Violence and Pain”:

The Enlightenment has left us with an alternative: either reason or violence. Nietzsche and his postmodern followers have demonstrated aptly that reason itself is violent (Nietzsche 1990, 43), adding in their honest moments the horrifying thought that violent reason can be transcended only in the violence of un-reason (Foucault 1988, 285). The cross of Christ should teach us that the only alternative to violence is self-giving love, willingness to absorb violence in order to embrace the other in the knowledge that truth and justice have been, and will be, up held by God. Does the cross teach us to abandon reason along with violence? Is its message that the immediacy of self-donation is the only antidote to the immediacy of violence? Certainly not. We cannot dispense with reason and discourse as weapons against violence. But the cross does suggest that the ‘responsibility of reason” can replace neither the “consciousness of sin” (Apel 1988, 17f) nor the willingness to embrace the sinful other. Instead, reason and discourse themselves need to be redeemed to the extent that they are implicated in the agnostic and sinful relations of power. Only those who are willing to embrace the deceitful and unjust as Christ has done on the cross, will be able to employ reason and discourse as instruments of peace rather than violence.” (emphasis mine)

Second, in the same video mentioned above N.T. Wright discusses forgiveness in light of Volf’s book.

Is forgiveness weakness? Is forgiveness capitulation of power, a loss of reason? Or, is forgiveness true power, true freedom and true embrace of the other. Is forgiveness the means to true World Peace?

Forgiveness is part of a larger reconciliation package: where evil has happened, it needs to named for what it is and in a sense shamed and then dealt with. “Where real evil has happened it needs to be addressed.” Forgiveness and reconciliation addresses what has actually happened. Within this context of embracing the “other” people are brought together. New life, new order is restored. Amazingly powerful and new possibilities including healing of communities will occur. World Peace ensues.

As Wright describes in the video, shutting the door of your heart to God’s forgiveness leaves us on inside looking out. I would add that a root of bitterness begins growing down through the floor boards making you decision to move through the growth to open the door difficult and then, later, almost impossible.

These are heavy concepts but you love your mother so take on these truths and become a peacemaker for Mother’s day.

“Blessings on the peacemakers! You’ll be called God’s children”-this Mother’s Day.

College Trigger Warnings-Nothing New Under the Hard Sun

So one day, as Plato conveyed to me over a glass of ruby-red Greek wine, he goes back into the claustrophobic cave where he once had the courage to flee. He excitedly tells his former neighbors-the self-shackled cave dwellers-that there is brilliant light outside. Everything can be seen clearly. Truth and beauty await them outside the cave.

He tells them that the large fire at the back of the cave is casting the shadowy flickering images on the walls of their cave. This is what is scaring them. He tells them that their understanding of life, their vision is veiled and distorted. “Come and see”, he tells them.

Most of the cave dwellers respond apathetically. Some had tried to read the shapes on the wall and to discern their meaning but to no avail. (The images are the cave dwellers themselves as distorted silhouettes projected onto the walls by the firelight. They cannot figure this out. Besides, they tell themselves, “Truth is what our cave dwelling friends let us get away with saying.”)

After Plato’s pleading the cave dwellers tell him that they do want anyone to stop the picture show. They know what to expect day after day. They look forward to the same known foggy reality.

Plato, my friend, was then denounced as part of a lunatic fringe element for his Ideas. He was ridiculed and banished from the cave. If the cave dwellers had been not shackled they would have killed the ‘prophet’ of a new and illuminated world. Instead they invented trigger warnings to fend off intruders.

The end.

The video link at the bottom of this post sheds some light on the scary shadow developed skepticism of many people hunkered down in their trigger warning guarded thought caves.

Tim Keller, introduced in the video, is also a contributor to the Christian-based theistic evolution science blog Biologos.org.

After Keller’s presentation, about 44 minutes into the video, there is a question and answer period.

Several students question Keller including two philosophy students who ramble on trying to form a question that Keller can answer. It is an interesting discourse, to be sure. Kant is brought out and dusted off.

It was Kant and the thinkers of Enlightenment that brought out and dusted off the “Upper” and “Lower” storybooks stashed away on the shelves of philosophy for centuries – basically, the ‘atomistic’ philosophy promoted by the Greek philosopher Epicurus.

Once Darwin came on the scene the thought-value split quickly became the Western mindset. Man, we were told, had evolved out of his unenlightened cave to live in his new cave of Scientism. Religion was dismissed as only flickering sentimental shadows of the past. Truth had been divided into Continental and Analytical thinking, with no middle ground between.

Once I built an ivory tower

so I could worship from above

when I climb down to be set free

she took me in again

from “Hard Sun”, written by Gordon Peterson

Francis Schaeffer, the founder of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland, used the following diagram to describe modern man’s dualistic thinking to those who studied at L’Abri.

The Two-Story Concept of Truth

Values

Private, subjective, relative

Facts

Public, objective, universal

 

This dichotomy has grown so pervasive that most people do not even recognize they hold it. It has become part of the cultural air we breathe. Consider two prominent examples:

Martin Luther King Jr.: “Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals with mainly values.”

Albert Einstein: “Science yields facts but not “value judgments”; religion expresses values but cannot “speak of facts.”

 

Modern man, hiding behind easily tripped trigger warnings inside his cave, shackled to soulless hand-held materialism denies the existence of the whole outside world, a world brightly illuminated. It was a medievalist poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who understood the magnitude of the illuminated whole: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

Once out of the cave, reality for man is the Hard Sun. Yet, Man will see and then, if willing, embrace both Continental and Analytical thinking. He can embrace both nature and grace, both facts and values, both Truth and Beauty.

And Man can also walk in the eternal light of God’s Son, for he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Veritas Forum: Belief in an Age of Skepticism?

Added:

If you are skeptical about the reality of the resurrection of Jesus then I have some light for you:  Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham

An Open Letter to Ms. Marilyn Mosby

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore DA

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore DA

An Open Letter to Ms. Marilyn Mosby

Dear Ms. Mosby,

For the sake of the five men and one woman whose lives are on the line now and have been daily for the citizens of Baltimore I plead with you that you recuse yourself Ms. Mosby and push for a new venue for the trial. Blind Justice demands it and your law career would not appear to be enslaved to black identity politics.

Something tragic happened to Freddie Gray. We don’t know what, yet.

Your rush to over-charge these six officers due to a coroner’s report of a possible homicide is directly from the theater of Absurd. Freddie was a known druggie-pot and heroin. He may have hurt himself before ever getting into the van. He may have even hurt himself in the van because of another arrest situation he did not want. In jail you cannot get drugs. Paying for bail comes out of drug money. And, he may have, like you, have known that the whole world is watching.

Baltimore Cops Charged

Baltimore Cops Charged

What possible motive or intent would these six officers have to hurt Freddie? Each of them, without a doubt in any one’s mind, had heard the ubiquitous and tainted news reports of so-called police brutality in Ferguson and New York. Wouldn’t each of these six just want to transport Freddie safely to the station without incident? They each knew the jeopardy at hand if anything went ‘wrong’. They would not risk their reputations or their jobs by hurting Freddie. He was already a known criminal. There was nothing to gain ‘racially’ or in any way, shape or form by hurting Freddie. You and the new DOJ AG just intuit criminal and racial intent…somehow.

Ms. Mosby, since you have made yourself into a black youth political activist by your flashpoint statements during your recent press briefing let’s talk politics, briefly.

Rousseauism: new age Liberals, especially black Democrats, have consistently made the claim that institutions, not man himself, are corrupt and constantly flawed (ergo, Democrats constantly arguing for raising taxes to repair their Progressive policy disasters).

If you do not recuse yourself Ms. Mosby because of your obvious incestuous political relationships and push for a new trial venue then yes, the institution and office of the Baltimore DA is deeply flawed. And, as we have witnessed the past six years, the Eric Holder assembled DOJ institution is also deeply flawed and myopically unjust. Do not follow his example.

Justice, Blind Justice, and NOT the ad hoc “hate the man” identity politics framed ‘justice’ is what MLK’s legacy requires of you.

Sincerely,

America

 

Freddie Gray Cop’s Charges: Justice or Political Theater?
IMPORTANT FOLLOWUP, Added after 5-8-2015:

Freddie Gray Case – Former Prosecutor Rips Current Prosecutor

Dershowitz: Charges in Freddie Gray case about crowd control

Freddie Gray Case: Prosecutor Doubles Down on Wrong Law

 

The Problem of Evil, a Good God and a Different Way to Be Human

Recently, on my daily train ride into the city, I had, for me, a ‘typical’ conversation with those standing in the vestibule. The subject:  going to church.

A fellow passenger brought up the fact that he attends to a certain church. Another passenger then mentioned that she attends a Catholic Church. I mentioned that I attended church near my town. A fourth passenger, a young woman carrying a black bag decorated with astrological and satanic symbols and the word “Spirituality” written boldly across the bag, looked up from her hand-held device and said, “I don’t go to church…Too much hypocrisy.” She said this looking directly at the woman who mentioned her attendance at a Catholic Church. The young woman went on to mention the priests and young boy abuse scandals.

I regrettably glibly said, “We are all hypocrites. Some people realize this and attend church to change their ways.” We then went on to discuss other things.

A deeper and honest and loving discussion on my part would have brought up the truth about God and the hard questions that she and I and all of us face in our daily lives. There are certainly questions of man’s brokenness, his hypocrisy and profound questions about evil, suffering and… a good God?

If you have read the ancient Book of Job then you would have come across man’s earliest known and hardest life question as the basis of Job’s story: Why does a good God allow suffering and evil?

And, if you have read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s (a Russian novelist (1821-1881)) “The Brothers Karamazov” you will have come across thought-provoking questions of the problem of suffering and evil. There, one would find man’s most pressing concerns in story form; concerns about God, good, evil, suffering, doubt and faith.

The Veritas Forum video below presents an insightful conversation at Duke University. Issues of war, pacifism, suffering, evil, moral ambiguity, hate crimes, death, the UN, International law, forgiveness and the Kingdom of God are broached by N.T. Wright, a well-known New Testament Scholar and author. He provides answers to many universal questions and places the answers in the context of the Kingdom of God and not the society at hand. The video introduces N.T. Wright and his book “Evil and the Justice of God”.

A conversation with Professor N.T. Wright at Duke University:

The West: Moral Courage or Moral Chaos?

“…Obama and modern liberal world view of moral equivalence:” * are key words to understanding America’s weakness in the face of Evil.

I believe that the philosophy of Epicureanism, a philosophy inculcated into mankind’s worldview hundreds of years prior to the Renaissance and The Enlightenment periods of history, is found in the DNA of American thinking. America’s make-shift democracy was shaped by that philosophy. America’s democracy now suffers moral ambiguity from that same sensory pleasure, godless philosophy.

Also shaping the foundation of America, the Puritans brought with them an ethos of Judeo-Christian understanding; an ethos that negated Epicureanism and that would become the cornerstone of our Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the rule of law. But over time with sensory pleasure and materialism being pushed as elementary rights and with God being pushed into the attic America’s moral stance is afloat in the ether. Democracy is helpless to bring man back to his senses. It has, in fact, become the aggregate of a growing amoral demos.

Epicureanism, embraced by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and other early American founders is inherent to that driving force that summons the “American Dream” from the depths of sheer pleasure. It has created an America that is prone to moral equivalency (basically, lacking in judgment and discernment; synthesizing good with evil) and to a lack of moral courage, the latter Alexander Solzhenitsyn addresses in his speech below.

Solzhenitsyn’s speech also provides for us an accurate description of our current leadership from his then vantage point of 1978 and his years spent in gulags for writing truth to power.

Excerpts from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s speech at Harvard, June of 1978, “A World Split Apart” (emphasis mine):  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable, as well as intellectually and even morally worn it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and with countries not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?

When the modern Western states were created, the principle was proclaimed that governments are meant to serve man and man lives to be free and to pursue happiness. See, for example, the American Declaration of Independence. Now, at last, during past decades technical and social progress has permitted the realization of such aspirations: the welfare state.

Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness — in the morally inferior sense of the word which has come into being during those same decades. In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to attain them imprint many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to conceal such feelings. Active and tense competition fills all human thoughts without opening a way to free spiritual development.

The individual’s independence from many types of state pressure has been guaranteed. The majority of people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about. It has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals, leaving them to physical splendor, happiness, possession of material goods, money, and leisure, to an almost unlimited freedom of enjoyment. So who should now renounce all this? Why? And for what should one risk one’s precious life in defense of common values and particularly in such nebulous cases when the security of one’s nation must be defended in a distant country? Even biology knows that habitual, extreme safety and well-being are not advantageous for a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of Western society has begun to reveal its pernicious mask.

I have spent all my life under a Communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale than the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses. And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

….

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

And what shall we say criminality as such? Legal frames, especially in the United States, are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also certain individual crimes. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency with the support of thousands of public defenders. When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorist’s civil rights. There are many such cases.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually, but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature. The world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems, which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society.

The press too, of course, enjoys the widest freedom. (I shall be using the word press to include all media.) But what sort of use does it make of this freedom?

And yet — no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time, and betrayal. Thus at the shameful Belgrade conference free Western diplomats in their weakness surrendered the line where enslaved members of Helsinki Watchgroups are sacrificing their lives.

Western thinking has become conservative: the world situation should stay as it is at any cost; there should be no changes. This debilitating dream of a status quo is the symptom of a society which has come to the end of its development. But one must be blind in order not to see that oceans no longer belong to the West, while land under its domination keeps shrinking. The two so-called world wars (they were by far not on a world scale, not yet) have meant internal self-destruction of the small, progressive West which has thus prepared its own end. The next war (which does not have to be an atomic one and I do not believe it will) may well bury Western civilization forever.

Facing such a danger, with such splendid historical values in your past, at such a high level of realization of freedom and of devotion to freedom, how is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself?

How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present sickness? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. The West kept advancing socially in accordance with its proclaimed intentions, with the help of brilliant technological progress. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness.

This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.”

There too many nuggets of truth to post. Here is the link to the speech: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/alexandersolzhenitsynharvard.htm

*The above quote and this post, a revised version of a comment I made, are from this post: “Sharansky: The U.S. has “lost the courage of its convictions”

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BTW: from the Wikipedia link above, the section “On Russia and the Jews” regarding Solzhenitsyn’s supposed anti-Semitism: “Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel denied this claim and insisted that Solzhenitsyn was not an anti-Semite: “He is too intelligent, too honest, too courageous, too great a writer.” He added he wished Solzhenitsyn were more sensitive to Jewish suffering, but believed his insensitivity to be unconscious.”

Culture Considered in Conversation

Culture Considered: A conversation between Roger Scruton,a philosopher, and Terry Eagleton, a Marxist, about culture and the best way to infuse its value, whether as Scruton would have it-as of traditional worth or as Eagleton would have it-as a radicalized deconstructed whatever?

Capitalism tends to overtake high culture with base consumption. Marxism tends to come up lazy and empty handed as its namesake, with little to add to culture except ad hoc criticism.

“Most people who read “The Communist Manifesto” probably have no idea that it was written by a couple of young men who had never worked a day in their lives, and who nevertheless spoke boldly in the name of “the workers”.” Thomas Sowell, economist

 

Humanity Thrives on Moral-Guided Free Market Economics and Acts of Creation

In response to the collectivist ideologies of Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren and their proposed free market epitaph “You didn’t build that…” I offer two videos that provide insights about our humanity, creation, transcendence and economics. Epicurus, by the way (see previous posts regarding Epicurus), knew about humanity at a base level. Epicurus withdrew from transcendent.
The first video includes an interview with Rev. Robert A. Sirico of the Acton Institute. I first heard this interview while watching Fox Business’ Varney & Company. It contains a surprise ending.

In the second video Rev. Robert A. Sirico speaks at Creighton University about his conversion from Marxism and socialism and his reckoning of justice with a God-given humanity and transcendence. He speaks of going on to embrace a morals-directed free market economics which in the act of creation produces a bigger pie for all to share in.
Transcendence takes acknowledgement and submission to the Sublime. It takes one to be faithful in small things. .And, what you create-“build”-transcends all the output of man-made ideologies and political jingoisms. Grab some coffee first before you sit back and enjoy truth.

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