Almost everyone has heard the saying of Winston Churchill, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” It’s true that one of the most important benefits of studying History is that it gives us the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. However, a careful study of History teaches us that this seldom happens. This is why I’ve added an addendum to Churchill’s famous saying, “Those who do study history are doomed to watch everyone else repeat it.”
Looking back over the grand sweep of history we see that all nations and empires rise and fall. From the ancient cultures of China, Babylonia, Egypt, and Rome to more modern examples such as the Spanish, Russian, French, German, and British empires and in an almost textbook case the USSR we see that no matter how powerful, enduring, or effective these societies have been in projecting their power, providing an ordered life for their citizens, and maintaining control they’ve all passed from the scene.
We’ve all heard some of our self-declared enlightened pundits compare modern-day America to Rome just before the fall. True there are many parallels such as military over-reach, deficit spending, inflation, crumbling infrastructure, and metastasizing bureaucracy. I guess the example of Rome is used because so many people can relate to it.
However, if we look at the other examples mentioned we see that these same deteriorating conditions existed across the board. These malignant outgrowths of the hyper centralization of government are often highlighted and pronounced by pontifical pundits and academics as the litmus test for evaluating where along the trajectory to the dustbin of History a society may be at any specific time.
While not disputing that these indicators of decay are evident as waystations to dissolution, I would like to add one more that is seldom if ever mentioned: the rise of leaders who betray the central values, ethics, and morals upon which the society stands.
John Adams, one of the principal framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution who served as the first Vice President and as the second president said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
In many ways, America has morphed from a shining city on a hill into a cesspool that makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like puritan pitstops on the way to Pee-Wee Herman’s playhouse. However, we’re still the go-to destination for all the poor huddled masses around the world. One of the problems of this is that most of them have never known anything besides authoritarian socialist government. And though the tragic results of those governments are what caused them to make the perilous journey here they seem to automatically vote for the American version of the failed systems they left. Much as the refugees from California, Illinois, and New York all appear dedicated to turning Iowa, Arizona, and Maine into smaller versions of the failed states they’ve fled. With these uninformed additions along with those who vote not by thought but by habit we currently have roughly half the people in America ready to vote for the final transformation of our country into a socialist paradise à la Venezuela.
The reason this governmental rot appears to be spreading like COVID in our society is that we as a people have lost our moorings. We’ve abandoned the fundamentals of the Christian faith: first, to love God above all else and second to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
The outward societal expression of this love does not mean we should turn the safety net of compassion established for the needy into a hammock for the lazy. But it does mean we should provide decent and respectful care for those who cannot care for themselves while encouraging everyone to achieve to the best of their abilities. It does not mean we should facilitate or allow violence and civil unrest. But we should provide and protect space for the free exercise of free speech in all its many forms. It does not mean that we should tax people into poverty and spend future generations into hopelessness. But we should contribute for the maintenance of a government of, by, and for the people. And that government should be filled with citizen legislators. Not professional politicians, intent only on keeping an iron grip on power so they can line their own pockets and those of their families and supporters with the loot confiscated from others.
Once we instinctively knew these things. They were the mother’s milk of American pride and self-reliance. Today after generations of students taught what to think instead of how to think we are faced with the spectacle of masses of people supporting socialism who don’t know the history or the 100% tragic results of socialist experiments through History. We’re confronted with shouting mobs crying out for the centralizing agenda of dedicated statists in the name of anarchy and with continuing conflagrations in our cities ignited by people who want better lives while burning down their own neighborhoods.
What we need is a revival of Christianity in an increasingly pagan America. Let those who see the light be the beacons of love Christ called us to be not conduits of condemnation who turn their noses up at anything that doesn’t resemble them or theirs. Living as we do in a representative republic that operates with democratic input, we as citizens should vote our conscience. Vote only for those who will uphold your beliefs remembering always that when we choose the lesser of two evils, we’re still choosing evil.
The ultimate source for our guidance as always is God’s Word. Speaking through the author of Second Chronicles the Spirit tells us, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And on a more personal note Joshua exhorted the ever wavering Israelites saying, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
And while God’s Word is the ultimate source of wisdom there is much to find among the words of men. Winston Churchill reminded us, “A nation that forgets its past has no future.”