Archives For Speech

This has the sharp edge of poignant relevance painted all over it:

“….Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender. Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum. Camus 1951 quote
And what then—when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he’s heard voices pleading for “peace at any price” or “better Red than dead,” or as one commentator put it, he’d rather “live on his knees than die on his feet.”
And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world?
The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honoured dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this—this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits—not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”[i]

 

The political context:

Barry Goldwater was a Republican Presidential nominee. In 1964 Reagan spoke up in support of that nomination. Reagan was a Democrat turned Republican.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, left Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, as U.S President. LBJ won the 1964 election and began an escalation of America’s involvement in Vietnam, effectively turning a civil war into an international conflict, with the complete backing of his party and apparently that of the United States congress.

Front-line combat involving the American, Australian and New Zealand military, in The Vietnam War began in 1964. This was the direct result of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’.  Democrat support for Vietnam changed over time. In 1966, William Fulbright, , wrote that he regretted backing the resolution (Arrogance of Power, p.52). An interesting side-note: Fulbright also pointed out that Australian and New Zealand military involvement was only a ”token” gesture (ibid, p.110).

One of the key things to note about Reagan’s speech is that it’s not directed at Vietnam, but at Communism, specifically the Soviets. The broader international context of the Vietnam War is the Cold War. It is important to view one in the light of the other.

Whether you stand on the left, the right, up or down, it’s difficult, if not impossible to argue against the historical and contemporary relevance of Reagan’s speech.  I’m convinced that Goldwater would have stood fast against threats to the West, however, I wonder if there would have been the same kind of escalation of the Vietnam conflict, under a Barry Goldwater presidency.

What Reagan’s speech reminds us of is the fact that appeasement only benefits those who are demanding to be appeased. Those demands usually hide true intent behind a veil of benevolence. So much so, that any opposition or refusal to meet those demands is viewed as unnecessary, hateful and counter-productive. Reagan reminds us of the lesson within Neville Chamberlain’s ”peace in our time”. Something which, at the time, stood out as a so-called justification for the decade long charge of ”warmongering” howled out loud against Winston Churchill, and his consistent warnings about the ‘rise of National Socialism in the 1930’s’ (Churchill: A life, Martin Gilbert,1992).

Today, Reagan’s words speak to a whole new generation of people who are looking down the barrel of new cultural laws. Laws imposed on them by the Radical Left and its cult of modern liberalism. Like those living throughout the 1930’s, this generation has a choice to make. May we not do as they did and face the consequences and suffering that they had to fight against and endure.

Reagan is right:

‘The greater risk lies in appeasement; surrender. We’ll [either] preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.’

Now is the time of choosing.


References:

[i] Reagan, R. 1964 ‘A time for Choosing’, PDF transcript

Originally published 24th July 2014.

From the start of his candidacy, I’ve considered Donald Trump a diamond in the rough. It’s a working hypothesis that I’ve held onto in the face of an onslaught of fear and dire predictions about his alleged “reign of terror”, a lot of which came from almost everyone I know (theologians and pastors included). Joining the bandwagon condemnation of Trump, in order to spread fear, was always a darkened side-road best left in the rear-view mirror. Minus a few friends and two years on, this hypothesis still stands strong.

While I believe that God can transform, and still is in the business of transforming people’s hearts, I’m also cautious of Donald Trump and the euphoric support which surrounds him.  For instance, I’m no fan of the ‘’god emperor’’ memes or any view of Trump that implores manifest destiny or deus ex machina.

I’m as fervent in my caution about this as I am in my opposition to people who deify victimisation, and use reckless narratives in order to irrationally “Hitlerise” personalities, because they see potential political gain in doing so. (No one should seek to make a profit from suffering, unless those who have suffered are the primary beneficiaries.)

My caution of Trump is the same as my caution of ‘the bureaucratic caste’[1]. The highlight of reports today was Trump being laughed at during his speech at the U.N. This myopic reporting gives justification for such caution. The Washington Post was drooling with satisfaction at what they said, was a fair response from the German delegation. Trump “made claims” about German dependency on Russian energy. According to the W.P., Trump, ‘as usual, got his facts wrong’. However, one look at the transcript of his speech shows that Trump was issuing a warning about the trajectory of German dependency on Russian energy. He wasn’t claiming that Germany is completely dependent on Russia, as was implied by the W.P.

Even BBC World News was quick to misquote the Trump:

 

 

Despite the red herring headlines, there are a lot of positive things which can be said about Trump’s speech to the U.N. He rejected the ‘ideology of globalism’, called for diplomacy and a better deal. He didn’t just speak about American sovereignty. He spoke about the uniqueness of every non-belligerent nation, and their valuable contribution to the peace and prosperity of their neighbours.

In addition to this, Trump discussed the dangers of allowing globalists (and I would add in with them: those who operate from within the Leftist cult of modern liberalism[2]) to set the national and state, right down to regional, and local, agendas of nations; nations that allow an un-elected bureaucratic caste to rule over them, such as exists within the current structure of the European Union. This is the very definition of imperialism and Donald Trump is right to oppose it.

Globalism is imperialism. Ultimately globalism undermines the usefulness of the United Nations. Through a uniformity of identity, diversity is diminished. Behind the veil of words about diversity, equality and tolerance, there is no unity in diversity because the telos of globalism is a quagmire of sameness.

Compliance is monetarily rewarded. Dissent punished. There is no real check or balance allowed under this kind of absolute power. The global demonization of Donald Trump, and Trump administration supporters, provides a taste of life under global imperialism and how its newspeak is used to sure up its centralised control of the masses[3].

Globalism is a surrender of sovereignty, rights, citizenship and cultural identity. It is the stuff of a monolithic alliance. Poised to strike at all who oppose the faceless, would-be lordless powers who control it. Higher institutions of learning are weaponized. The education industrial complex jackboot marches side by side with the entertainment and military industrial complexes. They all fall into line and are employed to indoctrinate, shame, negate history and healthy culture via manipulation, appeasement and revisionism. Thus globalism promotes the use of shaming techniques and manipulative propaganda. It provokes national genocide and advocates perpetual war behind a veil of humanitarian benevolence.

It would appear that most news outlets have chosen to report only on the areas which can be utilized to further demonize and mock Donald Trump. What’s ironic about this is that there’s a bunch of do-very-little bureaucratic elites and spectators sitting in chairs, laughing at a leader, who may have the flaw of speaking too much about his own success, and not staying on script, but is leading a team, which is, according to balanced reporting, achieving a great deal of success[4]; and they’re achieving this despite unprecedented attempts by a bitter and resentful group of political opponents, to manipulatively interfere in undermining that success.

For the rest of us watching it’s a bizarre era, not because of Donald Trump and his idiosyncrasies or flaws, but because of the bizarre behaviour of many who cry wolf, simply because he was elected President of the United States.

Perhaps Trump and his critics could take a step back and consider what Theodore Roosevelt said in 1910:

‘’The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt…
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (‘Man in the Arena’)

While I still see Trump as a diamond in the rough, I remain cautious. He isn’t God. He is human and therefore prone to the same temptations and failings as the rest of us. This same caution needs to also be applied to those who would seek to be our self-appointed lords, such as an un-elected bureaucratic caste; those who would gain and then maintain power via newspeak, agitprop and by profiting off of the subjugation of others.

Donald Trump is right to oppose globalism because it is another form of imperialism.  The conclusion of globalism is injustice; a quagmire of sameness enforced by foreign rulers over nations not their own. A monolithic alliance filled with paralysed citizens, who are burdened by a meta-state with division, mistrust, fear and suspicion.

Criticism of Trump and those in his administration should be heard, but every thinking person should apply the necessary filters to sift the wheat from the chaff. For the words of America’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, still ring true: ‘the poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt…’[5]

Britannica defines Imperialism as ‘state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas.’

In the light of this, Donald Trump’s “no” to globalism, is a no to imperialism and a “yes” to freedom.


Notes & References:

[1] Simone Weil, Oppression and Liberty.

[2] Faceless (largely Leftist) powers who operate as though they were god; in other words masters of humanity; lordless.

[3] Watch any news conference between Donald Trump and the reporters. It’s easy enough to hear the prejudice and hostility. The product of lament and bitterness because their team lost the 2016 election.

[4] E.g.: Trump’s work on the Korean Peninsula, continued to commitment to NATO, pulling an aggressively expansionist Communist China into line, and practising diplomacy with Russia and Syria, instead of triggering a total, or maintaining a covert war against both.

[5] Roosevelt, ibid.

Roosevelt, T. 1910. The Man In The Arena (sourced 26th September 2018, from http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com)

‘Trump‘ photo by Kayle Kaupanger on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Alongside uncompromising words from Denzel Washington, the unapologetic resilience of Candace Cameron-Bure, Patricia Heaton, Kevin Sorbo, and even Mark Wahlberg, it’s comforting to know that not all of Hollywood is lost in a sea of ideological serfdom, sensuality, greed and opportunism.

Here’s a brief transcript of an excerpt from Jim Caviezel’s speech given to The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (F.O.C.U.S), on Jan. 5th 2018.

Caviezel ‘s speeches are usually deep. He’s well prepared and speaks with conviction. His talk here is no different, and it shows that Caviezel needs to step up and speak more often.

“After shooting Monte Cristo I inexplicably get a call from Mel Gibson. My agent didn’t call. My manager didn’t call. I didn’t know Mel Gibson. I wasn’t politicking for the role because nobody knew it was happening. Gibson wanted me to play Jesus Christ. He wants the guy with the initials of JC, who just happens to be 33 years of age, to play Jesus Christ. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so.
Is your life a coincidence or is it all just a chance? Some of you may be miserable right now, confused, uncertain of the future, hurting. This is not the time to back off; or to give in. When I was up there on the cross, I learned that in his suffering was our Redemption. Remember the servant is no greater than the master. Each of us must carry our own cross.
There is a price for our faith, for our freedoms. I have been literally scourged. Hit by the whips. Crucified, struck by lightning; yes, open-heart surgery – that’s what happens after five and a half months of hypothermia. One day, during this shoot, my arm was wedged under that heavy beam, when someone yanked it in the other direction. My muscles wrenched, my shoulder separated, I fell to the ground.
Dropped my head into the sand, this take now remains in the movie. In the later part of the film, Jesus experiences a shoulder separation, well I now know what that felt like. Every day I had to pick up that thing. It was like a penance. It ripped into my shoulder, tearing up my flesh, and with each passing hour, it got heavier. Had this been shot in a studio, you never would have seen that performance. The suffering made my performance; just as it makes our lives.
Some of us now (and you know them) embrace a fake Christianity, where it’s all happy talk. I call it happy Jesus and glory. Guys, there was a lot of pain and suffering before the resurrection. Your path will be no different, so embrace your cross and race toward your goal.
I want you to go out into this pagan world. I want you to have the courage to step into this pagan world, and shamelessly express your faith in public. The world needs proud warriors, animated by their faith. Warriors like Saint Paul and St. Luke, who risked their names, their reputations, to take their faith, their love for Jesus, into the world. God is calling each one of us; each one of you to do great things, but how often we failed to respond; dismissing it as some mental blurp.
It is time for our generation now, to accept that call. The call of God urging all of us to give ourselves entirely to him, to see that gentle hand, guiding your path, but you first make must make the commitment, to start praying, to fast, to meditate on the Holy Scriptures, and to take the holy sacraments seriously; for we are a culture now in decline; a people in danger of succumbing to our excesses.
Our whole world is entrenched in sin and they’re in the quiets our hearts, God is calling out to us, each one of us, to give ourselves entirely to him, and how often we ignore him; ignore that sweet call.
The great saint of Auschwitz St. Maximilian Kolbe said that, “indifference is the greatest sin of the 20th century”. Well, my brothers and sisters, it is the greatest sin of the 21st century as well.
We must shake off this indifference! This destructive tolerance of evil, only our faith in the wisdom of Christ can save us, but it requires warriors ready to risk their reputations, their names, even our very lives, to stand for the truth.
Set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation. Be saints. You weren’t made to fit in. You were born to stand out. For in our country now we are only too happy to go with the flow. We have a shrine to freedom now where all choices are equal, no matter what the consequences are. Do you honestly think this is true freedom?
Pope John Paul the great said, “Democracy cannot be sustained, without a shared commitment to certain moral truths about the human person in the human community”.
The basic question before a Democratic Society is this: how ought we to live together? Seeking an answer to this question: can society exclude moral truth and moral reasoning?
Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom exists, not to do what you like, but having the right to do what you ought. That is the freedom that I wish for you. Freedom from sin, freedom from your weaknesses; freedom from this slavery that sin makes out of all of us, that is the freedom that is worth dying for.”
(Timestamp: 5:50 – 13:31)

https://youtu.be/e9z-dMQjRBE

Cracked soil 2Two weeks ago I came across two speeches. The first was from Catholic Theologian Jean Vanier, and the second was from Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks.

I’ve had an interest in the praxis, theology and political philosophy of the former since my encounter with his work during my undergraduate study. His co-authored work, ‘Living Gently in a Violent World, (2008)‘ written with Stanley Hauerwas still stands out in my mind.

Each speech was given as part of an acceptance ceremony whereby Vanier (2015) and Sacks (2016) were awarded the Templeton Prize. Both speeches are not entirely worlds apart, however in the end I was drawn to the speech given by Sacks, more than I was Vanier.

For context, the Templeton Prize is an award that ‘honours a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works […]The Prize seeks and encourages breadth of vision, and new insights that human beings take their spiritual bearings from a range of experiences.’ [i]

The Sacks speech hits on the dangers and problems caused by the outsourcing of [personal] responsibility (for example abuses, neglect, mechanisms of denial, anxiety avoidance, crisis, oppression, self-justification and how at times  social justice can mask even greater evils).

Some of the key highlights:

1. ‘A free society is a moral achievement. Without self-restraint, without the capacity to defer the gratification of instinct, and without the habits of heart  and deed that we call virtues, we will eventually lose our freedom.’
2. ‘The 1960’s is marked by the outsourcing of morality; an abandonment of the Moral Sciences. Morality had been outsourced to the market. The market gives choices, and morality itself is just a set of choices in which right or wrong have no meaning beyond the satisfaction or frustration of desire […] Ethics was reduced to economics. As for the consequences of our choices, these were outsourced to the state […] Welfare was outsourced to the state. As for conscience, that once played so large a part in a the moral life, that could be outsourced to regulatory bodies. So having reduced moral choices to economics, we transformed the consequences of choices to politics.’
3. ‘You can’t outsource conscience. You can’t delegate moral responsibility away. When you do, you raise expectations that cannot be met. […] as a result people start to take refuge in magical thinking, which today takes one of four forms: the far right, the far left, religious extremism and aggressive secularism. The far right seeks a return to a golden past that never was. The far left seeks a Utopian future that will never be. Religious extremists believe you can bring salvation by terror. Aggressive secularists believe that if you get rid of religion there will be peace. These are all fantasies, and pursuing them will endanger the very foundations of freedom […] We’ve already seen on university campuses in Britain and America [& Australia] the abandonment of academic freedom in the name of the right not to be offended by being confronted by views with which I disagree.’
4.  ‘What emerged in Judaism and post-reformation Christianity was the rarest of character-types: the inner-directed personality. Most societies, for most of history, have been either tradition-directed or other-directed.  Inner directed types are different. They become pioneers, the innovators and the survivors. They try to have secure marriages, hand on their values to their children, belong to strong communities, and take daring but carefully calculated risks. When they fail, they have rapid recovery times, have discipline and are more interested in sustainability than quick profits.’
5. ‘Civilisations begin to die when they lose the moral passion that brought them into being in the first place. It happened to Greece and Rome, and it can happen to the West.’

His conclusion:

‘There is an alternative: become inner-directed again […] which means learning that there are some things we cannot or should not outsource, some responsibilities we cannot or should not delegate away.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren not to throw away what once made the West great, and not for the sake of some idealized past, but for the sake of a demanding and deeply challenging future.
If we do simply let it go, if we continue to forget that a free society is a moral achievement that depends on habits of responsibility and restraint, then what will come next – be it Russia, China, ISIS or Iran – will be neither liberal nor democratic, and it will certainly not be free. We need to restate the moral and spiritual dimensions in the language of the twenty-first century, using the media of the twenty-first century, and in ways that are uniting rather than divisive.’ [ii]

All Sacks’ points and his sharp conclusion speak of a society telling itself that it’s on the verge of an upgrade. When in fact it’s face to face with the abyss, far closer to an irreversible downgrade. Glimmers of hope, such as Brexit, where free citizens vote not to comfortably slide into the role of indentured subject, may not be enough to encourage unity against such.

On another front, for me, Sacks’ use of the phrase ”inner-directed” is too ambiguous. Other than referring to it as being human conscience, it’s left open to interpretation. If the definition rests solely on human conscience then it raises significant problems for theologians, who hold human conscience as not being the centre or source of morality, ethics – the distinction between good and evil; right and wrong.

Humanity is not the source of this. It can only be a Word spoken to humanity from outside humanity. It cannot speak right and wrong to itself abstracted from the source of this differentiation. As witnessed throughout the 20th century in the West, when right and wrong are detached from Judeo-Christian ethics, human suffering isn’t answered, it’s increased.

It’s exactly what Bonhoeffer digs into when he states:

Humankind, which has fallen away from God in a precipitous plunge, now still flees from God. For humankind the fall is not enough; its flight cannot be fast enough. This flight, Adam’s hiding away from God, we call conscience. Before the fall there was no conscience.
Only since humankind has become divided from the Creator are human beings divided within themselves. Indeed it is the function of conscience to make human beings flee from God and so admit against their own will that God is in the right; yet, conscience also lets human beings, in fleeing from God, feel secure in their hiding place […]
Conscience is not the voice of God within sinful human beings; instead it is precisely their defence against this voice. Yet precisely as a defence against this voice, conscience still points to it, in spite of all that human beings know and want.’ [iii]

‘Inner-directed” therefore can only mean the inner-direction of the Holy Spirit. Any other source of ”inner-direction” is bound to lead us into inner-misdirection. Inner-direction is directed by a transcendent direction, at once hidden, yet revealed.

Outside this theological framework Jonathan Sacks’ call to become inner-directed is mis-directed:

‘Conscience means feeling shame before God; at the same time one conceals one’s own wickedness in shame, humankind in shame justifies itself […] The grace of the Creator is not recognised. God calls Adam and does not let him flee. Instead Adam sees this grace only as hate, as wrath, a wrath that inflames his own hate, his rebellion, his desire to get away from God. Adam keeps on falling. The fall drops with increasing speed for an immeasurable distance.’ [iv]

With the understanding that ”inner-direction” is within the framework of humanity finding itself being Holy Spirit-directed, I’m on board with Sacks’ conclusions.

‘If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.’ (Galatians 5:16-26)


Source:

[i] Templeton Prize

[ii] Sacks, J. Rabbi, 2016 Templeton Speech PDF Sourced 19th June, 2016 from http://www.templetonprize.org/

[iii] Bonhoeffer, D. 2004, DBW3 Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3  (128). Minneapolis: Fortress Press. (p.128)

[iv] ibid, 2004:130

GogglesHere is one the best defences of reading and old-fashioned, elbow-grease research, that I’ve heard:

“You see, you use a computer, you click on the word, ‘ant’, you get the data, fine. You pick up book and leaf through the pages to find the ‘ant’, you’re going to bump into a saint, an admiral, a poet, a town in Connecticut […] You’re going to learn something outside of the assignment, just because of your own undeniable and most valuable curiosity. You’re going to see a word and you’re going to jump on it. Or its going to jump on you. Then you have it forever.”
(Jack Marcus, “Words & Pictures,” 1:31-1:133)

These are not the words of a troglodyte. They’re the words of a once passionate teacher; a writer who’s finding his way back through the fog thickened apocalypse of his own undoing. The story follows the life and slow redemption of Jack Marcus. Self-medicating his problems with Vodka, the story hints at a long abuse of alcohol and his own alcohol induced abuse. It’s a problem threatening to capsize what’s left of his life.  Marcus’ talent suffers. His relationships and the quality of his work careens close to the edge; the precipice of “beyond repair.”

This paragraph occurs late in the movie. With swaggering courage, Marcus emerges from the fog of alcoholism that has numbed him to feeling  and seeing the richness of his world. His talent, once bound, is gradually reawakened.

Could this be a long metaphor for a shorter one? That, perhaps, the ease of Google has replaced the adventurers goggles.That which can only be discovered through them is missed. The high road of adventure and encounter is shortened to the instant mechanic of a click.

Google search

What we find are suggestions of a system. What we see are paradigmatic projections. Don’t read me wrong, Google can be an adventure. The problem exists when, like Wikipedia, Google search becomes the only resource for research, the only source of adventure.

It’s where  Marcus’ words find their relevance and as such, come to life.

“Pick up a book and leaf through the pages […]You’re going to learn something outside of the assignment. […] You’re going to see a word and you’re going to jump on it. Or its going to jump on you. Then you have it forever”

 


Trailer: Words And Pictures

Related post: Answers According to … 

First image is mine.