The Reasons for Optimism, Part 1

The Reasons for Optimism, Part 1

Geoffrey Botkin
December 18, 2012

Building a civilization is like building a house. You can build a useful, handsome house or a cheap, ugly one. But no matter how strong a house is, or how long it took to build it, an arsonist can burn it down in an afternoon. And then what? You live in the ashes, or you build a new house. Maybe, this time around, you build a less combustible house.
In the last two generations, cultural arsonists have burned down twenty consecutive centuries of moral progress and civil society. That’s one reason the future looks so apocalyptic. Smoke and ashes are everywhere. New fires are out of control, especially in America. Americans seem to be burning down their own homes or their own home towns. The news media cannot keep up with the disorder. Death taxes. Death culture. Deadly schools. A dead economy. Deadly chemicals in your drinking water. Deadly terrorists on your doorstep.
What would happen if serious people could build order into society to replace the terrifying disorder? The 21st Century is about to find out. There are five developing reasons the 21st Century holds greater promise and opportunity for cultural achievement than any previous century. These are solid reasons for optimism. Soaring optimism.

1. People are waking up and growing up

During one famous barbarian invasion, the attackers were running wild in the streets of Rome, pillaging and plundering. Roman citizens in the Colosseum would not admit it was “game over” because they were still watching the game in the arena. Heedless sports fans just sat in the bleachers, immovable, until the barbarians walked up to them and cut them down where they sat.

You are reading this because you don’t want your neighborhood to look like decadent Rome or the ash-heap of history. You are not alone. There are others who will not surrender weakly to a “game over” defeat. You want real facts with real meaning about the true prospects of the future, and not just numbers on how high the new death tax will go or how far the recession will fall. What you want information you can stand on no matter how bad things get, because you are ready to work for an alternative future.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the great authority on spiritual cowardice1, noticed the appearance of heroic people like you in some of the darkest places on the planet in the 20th century. “Why is it,” he asked, “that societies which have been benumbed for half a century by lies they have been forced to swallow, find within themselves a certain lucidity of heart and soul which enables them to see things in their true perspective and to perceive the real meaning of events; whereas societies with access to every kind of information suddenly plunge into lethargy, into a kind of voluntary self-deception?"

Solzhenitsyn was comparing lethargic America to the stirrings of freedom in the Soviet empire. He could see right into the distorted souls of American men because he had seen induced lethargy in the hearts and souls of Soviet men. In the 1980s, that began to change in the Soviet world. Now, thirty years later, it’s beginning to change in a small remnant of Americans. People are waking up to the need for active cultural stewardship so that disorder does not triumph. "The human soul,” Solzhenitsyn stated, “longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than…TV stupor and intolerable music."

Tomorrow: People are starting to think.

  • 1. Solzhenitsyn was a man of moral authority in a world of moral cowardice. He stood, often alone, against the most evil state government of the 20th century. He was exiled from his home in Soviet Russia in 1974. He traveled to the “free” world and saw the West sliding voluntarily toward policies identical to Soviet-style slavery. He was both shocked and offended by America’s moral descent. At Harvard University in 1978 he said America suffered a "decline in courage" and a "lack of manliness."

About the Author

Geoffrey Botkin is a cultural analyst, political consultant, veteran filmmaker, husband, and father. He currently serves as a senior consultant to the Western Conservatory of the Arts & Sciences.

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