Monday, March 3, 2008

America at the Crossroads (Mar. 3, 2008)

It seems all great empires mature and then dissipate over time, the average span being 200 years. The United States may be moving from success and bountiful wealth to self-indulgent egocentricity and blinding apathy.

The Huns evinced greater energy and focus than did the Romans, hence the latter’s demise.

It seems too much success, too much freedom can be a bad thing. We can get too spoiled and flaccid, losing our perspective and appreciation of the wondrous freedoms and institutions our democracy affords us.

And if we take our unique advantages for granted, if in our apathy we respect only third world cultures, religions and that which we are not, then in our idolatrous decadence, we open the door to infiltration by those who would do us harm, those who work to steal our jewels and destroy the rest. And there are endless faces pressed to our windows, jealous or angry at our smugness, our softness, our presumptuousness, awaiting our fall in grace from our ivory towers.

Perhaps a cheeky god, a wry humorous and far-seeing god, has sent al-Qaeda and Islamic Fundamentalism to try our passions and test our empire in the fires of radicalism.

The British too were tested by the Nazis; fortunately they had Churchill to represent them in those dark times rather than the myriad Chamberlains everywhere hovering, as the latter still do today.

David Ben-Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) wrote to Churchill in 1961 of this historical threshold: “I saw you then not only as the symbol of your people and its greatness, but as the voice of the invincible and uncompromising conscience of the human race at a time of danger to the dignity of man, created in the image of God. It was not only the liberties and the honor of your own people that you saved.”

America likewise is now at the crossroads of civilization and it will rise to the occasion or fall by its strength, determination and preparedness to sacrifice its endless pleasures and comfortabilities to preserve its unsurpassed freedoms.

Jihadist terrorists worldwide mock our evident weaknesses, our open sentimentality and our ambivalence. They by contrast are full of clarity, commitment and a preparedness to sacrifice all for their misbegotten ideals. Unless we evince Churchill’s resolute and undeniable commitment to combat these dark forces and fight for our future, we will stand at the precipice, we stand to lose our empire.

In 1940 Winston Churchill declared: “We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing ground, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

And they never did.

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