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Monday, February 18, 2008

Reclaiming a Civilization's Dreams to Save its Soul

The surest way to destroy a people is to kill their dreams because when you destroy a people's dreams, you also destroy their sense of self-worth, their ambitions, their principles and their goals. Men and women are not animals that need nothing but survival and creature comforts, yet the surest way to destroy a people's soul is to reduce them to just that, to gluttons chasing after creature comforts and finally rats living in the walls of their own society struggling to stay quiet and survive.

If you think this imagery is farfetched, consider that it is already a reality. Where nations like America, Europe and Israel once lived by dreams of the greatness they could achieve and went out and achieved it, today they walk the edges of their own shrinking frontiers trying to understand how to justify their existence to their own people.

While Australia apologizes to the aborigines for its existence, the Archbishop of Canterbury accepts the inevitability of Islamic law in Britain. American pundits wonder whether America has a right to exist and puts forward three candidates who think it does not even have a right to control its own borders. Canada persecutes critics of Islam while protecting Islamic terrorists and Israel dithers in the face of Islamic terrorism from Gaza, the very territory it forcibly ethnically cleansed Jews from in order to make room for the terrorists. All across the oceans and the seas, the oasis' of civilization are faltering as their peoples bow their heads in apathy and confusion to the knife.

How did it get this way? Part of the answer is that when their dreams died, these nations dried up and became husks without the lifegiving virtue of faith in their own destinies. America no longer believes in Manifest Destiny, Britain has given up Empire for the New Britain and Ireland has embraced the New Ireland, Israel no longer believes in Zionism and all across the continents the peoples that have carved out great nations out of desert and trackless wilderness now apologize for the dreams that brought them to transform those lands into civilizations.

The human spirit by its very nature must expand or contract, seek out new horizons and broader destinies or wither and shrivel up. But there are no frontiers left and on all sides the frontiers of civilization shrink in the face of a great southern tide of immigration. The rear guard action being fought by anti-immigration and anti-Jihad activists are not nearly enough because they can never hope to rouse these nations by without reviving their spirits without restoring their dreams.

How do you restore a nation's dreams? It isn't enough to shout about perils and warn about invasions, such things do not move a people that has learned to be apathetic, to grasp after a handful of material comforts and hold its place in the great bureaucratic queue that is the new placeholder of civilized societies, that great endless line at which paltry social benefits are distributed and taxes are collected. And this is why conservatives who fail to articulate a national vision all too often flail about when trying to connect with voters.

To revive a nation you must give it something to believe in, something to strive for and something to truly fight for beyond survival. If you can rally a people to believe in itself again then the threat of rogue barbarians quickly becomes something petty and paltry to be brushed off. If you do not, then building tall walls and isolating yourself only walls in the rot and the declining birth rates and culture will take care of the rest, as Japan is amply demonstrating for us.

What then are these dreams that a nation must dream to truly live? There will be different opinions on this matter, but they are in the doing of great deeds, in the bending of frontiers and the transcendence of merely human limitations. Only in the shadow of heroes and great men can a civilization flourish and only a people that truly believes in its own greatness can be happy and free.

I give you the following quotes, the echoes of national dreams, the dreamstuff of the mythos of nations that truly believed themselves to be great.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

"If you will it, it is no dream."

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

We live in that gray twilight now that Theodore Roosevelt spoke of above, in civilizations swallowed by the gray twilight there is neither true defeat nor victory, instead a long aimless drifting toward futility. In the first quote JFK was speaking of voyaging to the moon, but it is a quote that applies equally to any great endeavor. Great goals make great men because they provide great challenges to measure them against.

The Dhimmitude and decay that has filled Europe and North America, Australia and Israel, the absence of morale, the falling birth rates and the sense of confusion and hopelessness are all natural enough when you consider what happens to men who cease to move forward, they inevitably grow weary and lazy with decline. If we are to survive, we must do more than fight for survival, we must recapture a great destiny again. No party that merely shouts alarms in the people's ears will succeed, by now most of the residents of the civilized world have developed extremely effective ways of tuning out what they do not want to hear. Only a party that can offer a great dream, a great destiny can capture the hearts of people.

Tens of millions of young people across the world hunger for a dream and instead find only apathy and cynicism. They reach for fraudulent mockups of the real thing, for politicians who offer hopeful rhetoric and the set dressings of optimism and destiny but no true vision. When those shams stand revealed and all their allure is stripped away by betrayal and disappointment, apathy and cynicism rule in the ruined houses of their minds and spirits. They learn to distrust everything, to display contempt for their country, to believe any snide remark about their own civilization and beliefs and embrace it, thereby triumphing over the pain of their betrayal. Yet within them they still carry the flickering embers of a betrayed faith, one that now becomes displaced onto terrorists and killers.

Saving our civilizations will take more than winning an argument or ringing the warning bell, it will mean restoring a dream and raising it high so that there stands a clear choice between the appeasers and the defeatists of the status quo and those who strive to see the nation rebuilt in all its glory. Let the dream fly on the wind.

17 comments:

LemonLimeMoon said...

I believe wth all my heart that every nation you mentioned threw G-d out.
Once they did that, they lost it all and G-d has left them to their own devices.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

As a member of the young and apathetic generation, I have to say I'm still not quite sure if you've articulated any actual solution here. The truth is that there is no central idea that unites Americans anymore, that is, if there ever was (and if there was, the question remains as to whether it was necessarily a good one). Yet there seems to be a palpable desire to have one (certainly judging from the gaggles of college students swarming Obama rallies). So somewhere there's a disconnect. But I for one have no clue what the answer is- after all, you can't force unity on people, and these days, there really doesn't seem to be much of anything that can stand as a unifying front, aside maybe from, "it would be nice if we weren't all dead."

The young people of today have come of age in the time of the Daily Show and blogging, and have been taught that there is something admirable in poking holes in pat answers, magical-wishful thinking, and people that are disconnected from reality. And I think that is true. But I also recognize that there is a danger in not being able to replace over-idealized fluff with substance. And my fear is that we are going forward into an ever more dangerous age where our only options will continue to be fluff or aimlessness. I for one wish I could see some other options.

I don't look forward to the end of America as a super-power. But I'm not sure I see any other likely scenarios happening.

Sultan Knish said...

there's always been an attraction to poking holes in pat answers but unity creates a counterbalance when there is actually something to unite around

the real problem is that neither side has much to offer, faux diversity on one side and a faux gated patriotism on the other

Keli Ata said...

This is a wonderful article, Sultan.

I have to disagree a little bit Friar. In my opinion this article has suggested a solution--in it's richness and depth and the way it suggests much more elevated goals and visions. And a word almost stricken from the politically correct world--pride.

Obama's speeches are pablum given to generation X-ers babies (if that is even a word). Young people don't want to read the classics, not to mention the Tanakh. Nothing really penetrates their hearts, minds, and souls.

Do they read the Tehillim and weep over the beauty of the psalms? Do they feel it move their conscience?

Yes, I strongly believe that reading the classics and definitely the Tanakh can stir in young people that sense of depth, richness and vision to strive for greater things.

But we're talking about a generation that has abbreviated everything in their lives, including language. Ask any high school or college teacher and she'll tell that kids insert chat abbreviations into their essays.

Literature and language are so important. I was watching a show on PBS about the Miss Navaho Contest. Interestingly, the girls were not by most standards beautiful. No evening gown or swimsuit competition. Instead, they had to display some aspect of their culture such as breading their hair in traditional Navaho manner.

One of the directors of the contest said that a culture can be lost in 20 years when people lose their language and their religion.

It was heartbreaking to see several of the contestants weep because they couldn't describe how to get to their homes in Navaho. BTW, it reminded of my friend who convert from Judaism to Catholicism and went almost white when he couldn't recall all the letters on a dreidel.

Religion...literature and language...culture...we're losing it all and suffering for it.

(I hope this comment wasn't too disjointed or confusing).

Sultan Knish said...

no it wasn't confusing and in many ways americans are worse off than the navajo because at least they're trying to recover what was lost, while americans are being indoctrinated to hold their culture in contempt and not to even search for it

like the native americans did, we've come to hold what's ours in contempt and to embrace the foreign

self-despite

ephraim said...

To talk about Australia apologizing to its indigenous people “for its existence” shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what actually took place.

On 13 February, Kevin Rudd, Australia’s new Prime Minister apologised to those Aborinal families and individuals whose lives had been disrupted, sometimes (though not always) with pernicious consequences, when Aboriginal children were forcibly taken away from their parents and communities. Instead of seeing this as a healing, mature, responsible and menschlich act, you describe it as one suggesting “Dhimmitude and decay”. Why?

Sultan Knish said...

ephraim you might want to read Windschuttle's The Fabrication of Aboriginal History to get a clearer answer to that

rudd's action moved australia a step closer to rejecting its own existence

Shiloh said...

Fantastic article Sultan! Even if we would have a potential leader, like even Kahane, the 'leaders' (religous or secular makes no difference) will crush any attempt immediatly, as was in this case. But we hope. When the time is right, as in the Exodus, a leader will overcome the erev rav, and goyim to start the redemption. So we wait.

Shiloh said...

Fantastic article Sultan! Even if we would have a potential leader, like even Kahane, the 'leaders' (religous or secular makes no difference) will crush any attempt immediatly, as was in this case. But we hope. When the time is right, as in the Exodus, a leader will overcome the erev rav, and goyim to start the redemption. So we wait.

Sultan Knish said...

thank you shiloh, but we also need leaders now, galut isn't over yet

shiloh said...

You are right Sultan, we do need leaders today. In Israel, we have no one in the political pipeline worth even mentioning. In the US, it looks like hussein obama will take it for the democrats and he will surely take mccain in the general elections. Therefore I wish I could say things are looking up, but in reality Israel will be in a real pickle next january. This is more my concern, as this is my home.

Sultan Knish said...

yes we are in a pickle which is why it's important to remember about the things that count and how we can fight to make a difference

rex quondam rexque futurus said...

“Where there is no vision, the people will perish.” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

Keli Ata said...

I just re-read this in light of Michelle Obama's mind boggling statement that until was never more proud to be an American than when her husband ran for president. She can't find anything noble about American history until her duplicitous husband decided to run for president?

I must say, a statement like that is exactly what I'd expect from a black racist. Anti-Americanism all the way.

BTW, I tried to find a video clip on You Tube but couldn't. I hope the media and others aren't going to let her skate on this.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

She can't find anything noble about American history until her duplicitous husband decided to run for president?

I'm unconvinced that "finding something noble in American history" is the same thing as "being proud of America." There is plenty to admire about all sorts of movements and governments throughout history- a lot of headway in the natural sciences was made in the Islamic caliphates in the early Middle Ages, for instance. My mere acknowledging of that fact does not suggest that I am therefore necessarily "proud" of the caliphate.

I must say, a statement like that is exactly what I'd expect from a black racist. Anti-Americanism all the way.

If one cuts through all the conservative dirt-throwers (and the liberal apologists), what I think Mrs. Obama's comment really speaks to is that, right or wrong, there are plenty of Americans who don't find America, either in the past, or its future, particularly admirable. There are a whole number of reasons one could take that position. I assume that this means she thinks America has some serious problems. Why does that make her such a terrible person? Why does that make her, of all things, a racist? Last I checked, PLENTY of people think America has problems. Merely saying this out loud does not make you anti-American. And yes, most of us have the perspective not to toss the entire country & its history into the dustbin for it, and if Mrs. Obama doesn't understand that, then it is a failing on her part. However, among other things, SHE isn't running for office.

I see this as an issue of hyperbole (or plain boneheaded-ness), not treason.

Sultan Knish said...

If she isn't proud of America, maybe she should consider moving. It might be one thing to hear such a comment from an individual, but another thing from a potential first lady, whose husband already belongs to a racist anti-american church and who has some issues with the flag and the pledge of allegiance... and yet wants to be president.

Keli Ata said...

Can you imagine the wails of injustice from the NAACP and liberals if anyone publicly suggested that Mrs. Obama move? They'd add "and back to..." to the remark and brand us racists.

She can't cite a single source of pride in America in her 20+ years as an adult American. I recognize America's many faults but I can also cite sources of pride.

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