by Jerry Richardson 6/19/14
Recently Brad Nelson posed a very interesting question on his review of the book, How the West Won: “Why does it matter getting the story of Western Civilization straight?” Tantalizing question!
In my response, I have taken the liberty of unpacking Brad’s question a bit, and have made some assumptions that I deem necessary.
Please keep in mind that I am in no way trying to usurp the thoughts of Brad Nelson. Brad is a very articulate writer, and I am confident that he will make any comments that he feels are necessary or useful pertaining to the topic of his question.
With those caveats, off we go.
First we must have clarity on the use of the term ‘story’. A simple synonym for ‘story’ is ‘narrative’ and in my online dictionary, WordWeb Pro, both words share the following definition:
“A message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of events; presented in writing or drama or cinema or as a radio or television program”
So a ‘story’ of ‘Western Civilization’ would tell the particulars of the course of events of ‘Western Civilization’.
In addition, the ‘story’ is also a ‘message’. And the ‘message’ of a ‘story’ is usually the sense of the overall meaning of the story.
In other words, what fundamental meaning does the story impart?
The term ‘moral’ of the story is often used; it is usually considered to be the theme or central idea of the story, or perhaps the ‘lesson’ taught in the story.
‘Western Civilization’ also needs an initial definition. Again, WordWeb Pro:
”The modern culture of western Europe and North America”.
So to tie together the terms ‘story’ and ‘Western Civilization’ in Brad’s question means that we wish to know the ‘moral’ or the ‘lesson’ taught by the modern culture of western Europe and North America.
In other words, what have we learned from our culture?
Now we see immediately a major problem in our investigation. Learning lessons from cultural-history necessitates value judgments.
It is here that we run headlong into post-modern notions of relative truth and multiculturalism (all cultures are morally equivalent).
I reject these two post-modern notions (relative truth and multiculturalism) on the simple basis that no one actually lives their life using these two principles. No one actually bases their day-to-day actions on the belief that truth is relative or that there is no moral difference in existing cultures.
Relative-truth example: No one actually believes that there is no truth-difference in the statement that, ‘stepping in front of a speeding 18-wheeler is a deadly mistake’, and the statement that ‘stepping in front of a speeding 18-wheeler is a perfectly safe act.’ In the day-to-day world, truth is not relative—a statement is true, or it isn’t.
Multiculturalism-example: No woman, who has experienced both, actually believes that it is better to live in a nation with Sharia law (where a woman may be legally considered a criminal for being raped —Reference0) than to live in the United States of America. If not, why don’t numerous Muslims, who currently live in the USA, emigrate to an Islamic nation? The Muslim population in the USA has been steadily increasing. Why is that?
To get the ‘story’ of ‘Western Civilization’ straight (straight = correct on the facts and on the meaning), we must be able to evaluate civilizations. Such an evaluation requires criteria for differentiating between such abstracts as ‘useful’ and ‘destructive’, ‘healthful’ and ‘harmful’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘unsustainable’, ‘freeing’ and ‘enslaving’, ‘truthful’ or ‘deceitful’, in short we must be able to recognize the difference between the old Platonic realities, ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
Oh, I know full-well the confrontational-ground I’m stepping onto here: Progressives avoid the term ‘evil’ unless it is applied to conservatives or to Christians.
Here and now, I call BS on progressives’ refusal to evaluate different civilizations, with the single remarkable exception that they seem to evaluate all other civilizations as somehow superior to Western Civilization.
We cannot even approach Brad Nelson’s question (Why does it matter to get the story straight on Western Civilization?) without evaluating civilizations.
And the reason to evaluate civilizations is very simple, and can best be summarized, I think, with the famous aphorism of George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” —Reference1
In other words, civilizations (collections of people and their culture) make mistakes, and unless we learn from the past we (a collective civilization), will go right-on making the same mistakes.
But, we must have criteria for evaluating civilizations.
We do have criteria. The criteria we have, started its development in ancient Greece (Athens): Democracy—self-rule. It has been refined by numerous thinkers throughout the history of world civilization and Western Civilization.
It began to mature during The Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Reformation.
It was intellectually nourished over a long period of time by such capable thinkers as Cicero, Samuel Rutherford, and the very superb English thinker and writer, John Locke, who in turn influenced such thinkers as Jonathan Edwards and William Blackstone, and they in turn Thomas Jefferson.
We do have criteria for evaluating civilizations: The Declaration of Independence.
”Although we know Thomas Jefferson as the true author, the Second Continental Congress initially appointed five people to draw up a declaration. The committee included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was then given the task of writing a draft for the Declaration of Independence, which from June 11 to June 28 he worked on. Before he presented the Declaration to the Continental Congress, he showed it to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin; they made revisions. He presented the draft to Congress on July 1, 1776 and more revisions were made. On the fourth of July the delegates met in what we know today as Independence Hall, but back then was known as the Pennsylvania State House, and approved the Declaration. John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress signed the declaration along with Charles Thomson and it was sent to John Dunlap’s print shop for printing.” —Reference2
I believe that no better criteria exist for evaluating civilizations than the criteria that is articulated in our own Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.” —Reference3
A civilization that supports and furthers the principles of liberty and self-government stated above should be evaluated as “good”, and a civilization that rejects or obstructs the above stated principles should be evaluated on a continuum ranging from ‘not-good’ all the way to ‘evil’.
Hence the reason to ‘get the story straight on Western Civilization’ is to support the understanding and furtherance of those ‘self-evident’ truths proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.
That is the message of ‘Western Civilization’.
To sustain that message is today a daunting task, for we are faced with universities across America (and elsewhere) that are rotting with leftwing, anti-Western multiculturalism.
The same punk professors that are preaching hate toward Western Civilization are preaching hate toward The America that his given them tenured-protection along with their unchecked opportunity to spew their loathsome ideological filth into the minds of innocent and susceptible students, students that should be taught to respect their priceless heritage along with the skills of critical thinking rather than being brainwashed with hatred for the culture that has nourished and sustained their very existence.
Shame on our left-leaning universities for undermining the priceless lessons of Western Civilization! • (1564 views)