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“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.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
How much of our government today is marked by a lack of courage? We see it most clearly in the response to the COVID-19 epidemic. The states, counties, and cities whose leaders are most frightened are the ones maintaining the lockdown longest. Especially the politicians who fear the electorate and mistrust the common sense of the average person.
Similarly, the decline in courage has led to today’s bubble-wrap society — the desire to insulate people from any shock or hurt is overriding people’s ability to live their lives. Even those of us who realize the emperor is wearing no clothes lack the courage to proclaim it aloud.
When I was younger, when Solzhenitsyn was still alive and wrote this quote, I believed he was too pessimistic, especially about Americans. Today? I am not so sure he was wrong.Published in