A reader on The Rio Norte Line asked me what the answer is to our national woes. I suppose it is a fair question, and one that I need to answer — especially if I presume to keep telling people what our problems are. Fortunately, I have discovered that history affords us an answer to this readers question. Unfortunately, I hold strong reservations as to our society’s willingness — let alone ability — to accept the Truth of that answer. Still, I was asked, and I have the answer, so, if you will allow me some of your time, I will explain it to you. But understand, this is not a post for the ‘twitter’ crowed. If you cannot stay with it long enough to finish and then carefully consider my argument — on its merits — then you are actually one of the many reasons for my reservations. So, with all that being said, let’s start with Texas95’s latest post, “Where is the Virtue” by Anthony Esolen.For all our hubris, these facts remains: society is a fragile thing, and no amount of arrogance can change the universal principles by which it is sustained. Among these principles are things such as honesty, trust and justice. But more than abstract concepts, these things must be realities within the heart and soul of every individual in society else society will fall into despotism. The founding fathers of this nation knew this to be true, and if you look for them, you will find their words boldly asserting this eternal Truth. Here is just one example of just how clearly they proclaimed their convictions in this matter:
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
Which brings us to Texas95’s post on the indispensable necessity of virtue in society. I strongly urge you to read his post. True, he did not write it, but that is not the point. The point here is that Texas retains enough virtue, himself, to allow him to recognize the eternal Truth in Esolen’s essay. Even then, Esolen is doing nothing more than re-stating something that our founders understood. It is what Thomas Paine was driving at when he said:
“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”
This is the fundamental problem in the world today — especially the Western world. We have lost our individual virtue: the glue that binds our societies together. And, once lost, there is very little that can be done to restore that virtue. History has shown it usually requires a catastrophe of national proportions, and even then, it is not the generation that falls into moral decay that restores virtue, but a generation several times removed. This is because it requires something extremely powerful to restore virtue to the average member of society. Luckily, however, there are two historic examples which can give us hope — if only we will humble ourselves enough to accept the Truth in these examples and then submit to the things which they would require of us.
The solution to this nation’s problems can be found in the First Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening. These are the only two examples of a national restoration of individual virtue, and these are the only two examples that provide us with any hope of correcting the decay in our modern society.
Now, there are other ‘great awakenings,’ but they do not provide us with an example of how to correct our problems, but rather, they provide us with examples of how badly things can and will go wrong if we do not learn the lessons of the First and Second Great Awakenings. Primarily that we must repent and turn back to God — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and repent for all the things we have been doing that go against His law. The solution to our problems is that simple. But, if we continue to rebel and we try to overwrite our own notions of right and wrong and impose our own notion of ‘justice’ on society, then we will prove that — once again — we have learned nothing. This is what happened in the later ‘awakenings:’ men tried to co-opt Christ’s Gospel message to their own desires to justify things such as “social justice,” and the result was predictable. In fact, the troubles that are destroying our society today can be traced directly back to these later ‘awakenings.’
The First Great Awakening lead to the birth of this nation, and the Second Great Awakening helped to end the shortcomings of our original founders — at least in principle (i.e. slavery, women’s suffrage/rights, etc). In both cases, the people of this nation were sincere in their effort to return to God and to God’s law, and — in both cases — the result were plain for the entire world to see. In the entire history of man, what nation can compare its founding principles and ideals to those found in the Declaration of Independence? To Whom does the Declaration point for our liberty? God! And what nation has ever shed so much blood to free others than the United States? The answer is none! While the third awakening was the result of Marxist infiltration into the Protestant Church. What some call the forth awakening is nothing more than a continuation of this Marxist influence in the Church. Now, who can honestly argue that the principles and ideals of secular humanist ideals of Marxism have not lead directly to the destruction of individual virtue in American society? Anyone who tries does so in vain, as all the social indicators testify to the contrary, and they all point to the two periods where God was removed from the public square.
I mean, it’s not like God didn’t leave us an historic account of how this cycle works. Read the history of Israel in the Old Testament (Tanahk). It is nothing more of a constant refrain of how Israel turned from God, fell into ruin and was restored again only after they turned back to God and repented for their sins. Now, here we are: repeating the same mistakes Israel made. Why should we expect to fair any better than they did? So I ask you, how much more clear does God have to make these lessons before you and I will see, understand and learn from them?
That’s it, my friends. This is the solution to our problems — all of them. Yes, I understand that many people will reject the message, but then, that is because they have lost their virtue. They no longer recognize universal right and wrong. They have replaced it with a desire to do as they see fit in their own eyes. What’s more, these same people who will reject this message will also insist that no one has a right to tell them how they should live. That is the thrust of Texas95’s post about virtue, and the lesson taught by the First and Second Great Awakenings: that, when individuals abandon God’s universal laws of right and wrong to pursue their own notions of justice, society falls apart. Which leaves you with a very simple choice to make. Will you continue according to your own sense of right and wrong, or will you return to God and submit yourself to His law? One way leads to certain ruin; the other provides us with our only hope of national restoration.