I just returned from speaking for two weeks in New Zealand. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was asking me, “What is going on in America? It’s seems divided and crazy over there! How did you end up with two Presidential candidates like Trump and Hillary? They both have major issues. And what’s the deal with all the shootings, the incredible debt that has happened over the last seven years, and other stuff going on? It seems like America is spinning out of control.”
Henry Kissinger captures the tension between the historian and the statesman. “I think of myself as a historian more than a statesman. As a historian, you have to be conscious of the fact that every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately failed. History is a tale of efforts that failed, of aspirations that weren’t realized, of wishes that were fulfilled and then turned out to be different from what are expected. So, as a historian, one has to live with a sense of the inevitability of tragedy. As a statesman, one has to act on the assumption that problems can be solved.”
Kissinger has a point. It’s hard to embrace the statesman approach when history supports the historian. Many nations start off right, end up wrong. It seems like the constructive values of what made the nation strong get traded in on destructive values that make it weak. Born to win, conditioned to lose. Most every nation seems to have it’s spring, summer, autumn and winter.
I like to be positive, and I’m sure you do too, but our positivity must be based on what works. Not media spin, misguided human reasoning or political rhetoric. The truth is the further past great nations got away from ‘home,’ the more they get lost.
Sydney Harris says, “People are fond of saying that the past is dead, but it is actually the future that is dead. We make it come alive only be applying what we have learned from the living past to the present.” In other words, learn from others mistakes, the second mouse gets the cheese. History shows nations don’t learn from history.
Let’s look at a bird’s eye view of the cycle of what history shows us where all great nations have gone.
1. From bondage to spiritual faith.
2. From spiritual faith to great courage.
3. From courage to liberty.
4. From liberty to abundance.
5. From abundance to selfishness.
6. From selfishness to complacency.
7. From complacency to apathy.
8. From apathy to dependency.
9. From dependency back to bondage.
In other words, progressive is actually regressive. History is littered with nations like this.
Edward Gibbon wrote a book entitled Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1788. He discovered five basic reasons why Rome withered and died. The reasons were:
1. An undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis for human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes and spending public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. A mad craze for pleasure, with pastimes becoming every year more exciting, brutal, and immoral.
4. Building great armaments, although the real enemy was within – the decay of individual responsibility.
5. Decay of religion –faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life and losing power to guide the people.
Other nations are seeing this pattern before America sees it. It’s like bad breath; everyone knows you have it but you. Anyone who thinks government will save them is naïve.
“Government is the art of trying to solve problems. Politics is the art of trying to attain power. The two meet sometimes, but not often.” (Bill Moyers).
What is the real take-a-way from this article?
Billy Graham says “The lesson of history tells us that no state or government devised by man can flourish forever.” What is going on now in America, as in other great nations in the past, is what happens when a nation forgets God. Right now God is reluctantly allowing what the majority wants, a nation not under God. God is saying, “Look, here you go, this is what a nation looks like without Biblical moorings and values. You’re getting who you deserve for office. This shows you were you really are. Do you really want this?”
Listen carefully, especially you young adults. The immediate future will be determined by you. Return to God and be a statesman. Forget God and be a historian. In God we trust. Without God we bust. Maybe it’s finally time we go back to the future.
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in newspapers and blogs all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 600 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing inaccurate mental perceptions that the community has of God, church, and Christianity. If you know of a local newspaper that you think would like these articles, please have them contact Ed Delph at our website. The articles are free of charge and Ed’s way of giving back to the community.