19 August 2008

Self-Control in the USA

Last week on Bill Moyers Journal, Andrew Bacevich talked some sense about why the United States is no longer the world leader it once was. Our overspending into dept and our oil dependence - including that of the government and individual citizens - will sink this ship ever more deeper.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I would be one of the first to confess that - I think that we have misunderstood and underestimated President Carter. He was the one President of our time who recognized, I think, the challenges awaiting us if we refused to get our house in order.

BILL MOYERS: You're the only author I have read, since I read Jimmy Carter, who gives so much time to the President's speech on July 15th, 1979. Why does that speech speak to you so strongly?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, this is the so-called Malaise Speech, even though he never used the word "malaise" in the text to the address. It's a very powerful speech, I think, because President Carter says in that speech, oil, our dependence on oil, poses a looming threat to the country. If we act now, we may be able to fix this problem. If we don't act now, we're headed down a path in which not only will we become increasingly dependent upon foreign oil, but we will have opted for a false model of freedom. A freedom of materialism, a freedom of self-indulgence, a freedom of collective recklessness. And what the President was saying at the time was, we need to think about what we mean by freedom. We need to choose a definition of freedom which is anchored in truth, and the way to manifest that choice, is by addressing our energy problem.

He had a profound understanding of the dilemma facing the country in the post Vietnam period. And of course, he was completely hooted, derided, disregarded.

BILL MOYERS: And he lost the election. You in fact say-


BILL MOYERS: -this speech killed any chance he had of winning reelection. Why? Because the American people didn't want to settle for less?

ANDREW BACEVICH: They absolutely did not. And indeed, the election of 1980 was the great expression of that, because in 1980, we have a candidate, perhaps the most skillful politician of our time, Ronald Reagan, who says that, "Doom-sayers, gloom-sayers, don't listen to them. The country's best days are ahead of us."

BILL MOYERS: Morning in America.

ANDREW BACEVICH: It's Morning in America. And you don't have to sacrifice, you can have more, all we need to do is get government out of the way, and drill more holes for oil, because the President led us to believe the supply of oil was infinite.

BILL MOYERS: You describe Ronald Reagan as the "modern prophet of profligacy. The politician who gave moral sanction to the empire of consumption."
The above quote made me think of someone who died this month: Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He had some real insight into this question.

Below is my comment on Moyers' blog.

Mr. Bacevich is absolutely right on mostly everything he said.

I wonder if looking at Alexander Solzhenitsyn would help the discussion.

From two journals:

"Obviously, the demands of freedom and higher obligation are paradoxical. They seem as different as pride and humility, and there is no political solution in the real world which can reconcile them. They can be reconciled only in a world where freedom is used solely for self-limitation in service to the highest good—a condition that Solzhenitsyn sometimes compares wishfully to a new historical stage that would be as different from today as the change that occurred from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and Enlightenment."
First Things

"For example, describing the Western worldview as “rationalistic humanism,” Solzhenitsyn decried the loss of “our concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.” Man has become “the master of this world . . . who bears no evil within himself,” he announced. “So all the defects of life” are attributed to “wrong social systems.”"

I would be interested in how Mr. Bacevich would relate religion to the current state of US affairs.

Note that both President Carter and Solzhenitsyn came to their conclusions by Way of Christianity, by faith and reason. Without the guidance of Almighty God for self control, we'll all end up in a sunken ship in a stormy sea. As we forget about God, deny His existence and Divine Providence, and ignore His Will in our lives, we will sink deeper and deeper into the Enemy's grip.

Everyone bless God, no exceptions.

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