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If we intend to remain a self-governing republic, we are in a tough spot; the toughest of our lifetime. It got this way in just a matter of months, but it has been building for at least the last four generations. On a trip through centuries past, we can see other republics fall into what has been referred to as the “dustbin of history.” If we join them, it will be of our own making.
That trip through history will pass by every nation, culture or civilization that has risen and fallen. We are special among them for several reasons; we are superior to them in almost any measure that can be thought. But simple false pride and laziness may be what will put us among their ranks as the fallen.
Affluence can be a challenge for most, along with it comes increased comfort and easy. It is all too human to focus less on the sources of that affluence, to drift more toward the rewards than the reasons.
For those of you who grow tired of sports examples, I ask your forgiveness one more time. Simple minds have simple ways.
But I have been reminded of the second book written by the best offensive guard of his generation, Jerry Kramer. His first one was a huge bestseller as it gave a week-by-week account of the drive of Vince Lombardi’s Packers toward their third straight NFL championship, something never done before or since. It would become their fifth championship in a seven-year span. Instant Replay was an instant hit.
But following the next season, as injuries and fading fortunes for the Parkers weighted him down, Kramer added reflections on that next season in Distant Replay. Lombardi was no longer coaching and had moved exclusively to the front office and Hornung and Taylor were gone. Starr was injured most of the year and the rest of the Packer stars were aging, the season was not going well.
Kramer remembered sitting in front of his locker after another loss when Lombardi came through looking around with a cold stare. The coach in him overrode the general manager as he stiffly said loud enough for all to hear, “There are too many damn colored shirts and sideburns in here!” before striding out.
Kramer knew what he meant. It was not that few were wearing the white shirt with tie with jacket that was standard on Lombardi’s team. It wasn’t hair length or style. It was a matter of focus. It was that those things were becoming more and more important as winning and excellence became just a little less important. The eyes and the mind had moved more toward the rewards and farther from the source.
I can tell you that championships are damn hard to win and they are harder to defend. The focus so necessary in the first place has to be even more intense because you are now the standard. You are the one they are coming for.
Those in today’s America who are just below the poverty line live a lifestyle that the royalty of most ages would envy. They live better than most people who inhabit the rest of the earth. Most of the things we have at our fingertips have only been around for less than two generations.
I have speculated before that Mark Levin’s American Marxism does us a service in several ways, but central to its theme is that Marxism had adapt in America. It had to become a hybrid form of that social poison. The early attempts to win over “the working class” proved to be limited at best and failures the rest of the time. The conditions and lifestyle of the American worker were constantly changing for the better as our economy grew with a market that answered to consumers. The free market disproved too much of Marx.
As such, the division required for revolution had come in other forms, and those forms have been active and eating away for a century now.
We prospered under a culture of Liberty. But the rewards of that prosperity made it too easy to distract from what built it in the first place. The taste of Liberty’s rewards are sweet enough to let far too many forget about the bite of tyranny.
In the midst of all those rewards of Liberty, too many have forgotten that Liberty had to be won. It still does; it is never free. It is not supposed to be easy. We have allowed those lessons to be lost to far too many.
There is a basic understanding that any generation who will hold Liberty must have. Our political Liberty hangs on two hooks and without them, we lose it. Those two hooks are religious Liberty and economic Liberty. Without those two, you will never hold political Liberty.
Those who love politics and political parties too much are bean counters. Some might mean well but they are far too sensitive to the wind. They can certainly play a needed role. But Liberty is not about groups. It is about the lives of people. It is about their fulfillment as individuals.
Without the ability to prosper or fail by your own hand, you become a pawn. That economic Liberty guided by a common moral order is what grew all that prosperity. That cannot be planned from above (secularly).
But it can certainly be lost through politics.
The Bolsheviks never had a majority during the chaos that was the Russian revolution. But they prevailed.
Mao’s communists were not a majority but they took over China.
Castro’s band were not even close to a majority. But they have ruled Cuba ruthlessly for over 60 years.
I do not want to take the time to research how many murders have resulted from just those three failures of will by the majority. Certainly, it has been millions upon millions.
I can (and have at times) recount all the times that the American Revolution seemed to be within seconds of being lost. But I will remind you of a later crisis in our nation’s journey. Think of all the times during the Civil War that the northern Democrats would have settled and let the Confederacy go. How many battles? One single victory … or even a draw standing between dissolving the Union. A split-second decision on the side of Little Round Top, a chance shot in the dark at Chancellorsville, an ill-advised but successful change to cut off Stuart’s cavalry and thousand other small moments that could have gone the other way and we would become two nations. Certainly, the election of 1864 would have seen a split nation except for the close outcome. How many dark, seemingly hopeless days and nights during that struggle?
Liberty is not supposed to be easy. Yes, it has to be won. And then it has to be kept because most of the world will be stacked against it. That is why almost no one in human history has experienced it. But our fathers did. And we have. And we hold it in our hands.
Liberty well-practiced brings a prosperity beyond what the world has seen otherwise. But because we live in an imperfect world with flawed humans, corruption is always staring us in the face. Every other successful society has eventually given way to that corruption. It was that corruption that the Bolsheviks, Maoists, and Castroistas took advantage of. That and weakness of will.
There will always be evil, determined enemies who will want our destruction. That is the way of the secular world. And, as bad as it is now, it will get worse. But my view of history, and my faith, tell me that there will be turning points offered to us. What is required is will. We cannot be “out-willed” and pass that rare Liberty on.
There has to be a will to push through the times until that turning point presents itself, then a will to seize it and fight an uphill struggle to make the turn, and then a will to press on knowing that the final victory is still a long way off. We can be allowed an honest anger or desperate passion or both as long as they are backed by an unbreakable will.
We each have our own corner to fight in with our own set of weapons. And we have a chance if we simply remember that it is not the comfort or affluence we strive for. It is the Liberty that gives us the opportunity for them. When those possible rewards become as important to us as the Liberty, we certainly will lose them both.
If all this sounds dire, that is because it is. If it sounds hopeless, you have misread me badly. The Founders/Framers, the soldiers of the Revolution, those who donned both the Blue and the Gray, the dough-boys facing new weapons not seen before and the millions who answered the call in WWII were all mortal, flawed people who had a moment in the midst of terrible odds. This week we will receive back the remains of 13 brave individuals who are their descendants. Instead of soaking up the benefits of national affluence, they left home behind to protect the Liberty that supplies it. They should serve as our models as well as our reminder that even we mortal, flawed people can have a moment worthy of the trust we have been given.Published in