We often think as we embark on a new year that each year will be similar to the year before and we make our plans accordingly. Obviously the last two years have taught us that this is not always true and yet we say to ourselves after the 2022 and 2024 elections we will get back on track. Will we? Will we get back to normal and will our freedoms not be hindered? We believe that our Constitution and the American traditions of faith and freedom will save us. Maybe it is time to look back in history for a wake up call.
Sir John Glubb was a British author and lecturer and a decorated officer in the British army. His famous and succinct essay, “The Fate of Empires and Search For Survival” looks at the lifespan of empires from their origins to their eventual decline. Glubb estimates that most empires do not last longer than roughly 250 years, with many of them lasting much shorter. periods of time.
For example Persia ruled from 538-330 B.C. for only 208 years. Greece 231 years (Alexander and his successors) from 331-100 B.C. The Roman Republic was 233 years and the Roman Empire 207 years. Most recently Britain ruled from 1700 to 1950 and it ended after 250 years. America from 1776 to today is 246 years and from many indicators we are nearing an end of empire and leader of the free world.
Many historians including Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire) and others have given us the stages an empire goes through from beginning to end. Alexander Tyler of the University of Edinburg noted eight stages that articulate well what history discloses.
1) From bondage to spiritual growth
2) From Spiritual growth to great courage
3) From courage to liberty
4) From liberty to abundance
5) From abundance to complacency
6) From complacency to apathy
7) From apathy to dependence
8) From dependence back to bondage.
People in bondage no longer have the virtues necessary to fight.
We often think that this is a slow process over decades, which has an element of truth, however when the crumbling of freedom begins it can happen quickly. Our own experience since March of 2020 is a wake up call to all of us. Studying the rise of Hitler is eerily similar to our own situation. Anticipating an election in March 1933 that he knew he could not win, he chose to create a crisis.
On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag Building (the capital) was in flames. Hitler blamed the arson on a communist conspiracy and induced Paul von Hindenburg (the aged German president) to sign a decree that suspended individual liberties. The National Socialists (Nazis) could search homes without a warrant, confiscate property, and outlaw the meetings of groups that might oppose them. How similar the situation where it is easier to obey than to accept the dangers of freedom.
A more recent example is Venezuela that in 2001 was the 3rd richest country in the Western Hemisphere and the world’s leader in oil reserves. In 2001 the people voted for a Socialist President to address “income inequality”. In 2012 Bernie Sanders said “Venezuelans are living the American dream better than Americans”.
Now the economy is in shambles, citizens pick through garbage looking for scraps of food, vital medicines are in short supply and more than three million people have fled the socialist destination of Chavez’s policies. The currency has collapsed and now they import oil. How quickly a nation can go from freedom to tyranny.
Our country and freedom are undoubtedly under attack and yet we stand out as a beacon and a savior of western civilization compared to Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is if these countries have gone mad in their attacks on free speech, freedom of religion and our self autonomy.
Francis Schaeffer in his landmark book How Shall We Then Live? said “The danger in regard to the rise of authoritarian government is that Christians will be still as long as their own religious activities, evangelism, and life-styles are not disturbed.
We are not excused from speaking, just because the culture and society no longer rest as much as they once did on Christian thinking. Moreover, Christians do not need to be in a majority in order to influence society.” Will churches and Christians speak out?
I will end this column with a quote from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
1.) Once government acquires a power, it never lets it go voluntarily.
2.) Every power that government acquires, using this pandemic as a pretense, it will ultimately abuse to the maximum effect possible. This is a rule that is as certain as gravity.
3.) Nobody has ever complied their way out of totalitarianism. Every time you comply the demands will get greater and greater.
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