Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Does anyone know Bishop Fulton J. Sheen? I read an except this morning from a book he wrote called Way To Happiness. Here is an excerpt that I wanted to put here. I hope he doesn't mind (he's dead now but you never know). This is a tad bit long but I think you can read it in a couple of minutes. I think it is important (obviously because I posted it here) . This was published in 1954. Yes, 55 years ago.

Recently a woman at a forum asked an important politician this question: “Why is it that our political leaders never speak of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice, but only of how much they will give the farmers and the manufacturers and the labor unions if they are elected?” The politician answering quoted another politician, but it seems as if he missed the deep significance of the woman’s question. Actually, she was a spokesman of a large segment of the American people who know enough about history and psychology to know that no nation, as no individual, ever achieves anything worth while except through sacrifice and self-denial.

Toynbee pointed out that sixteen out of nineteen civilizations which have decayed from the beginning of history to the present, have rotted from within; only three fell to attacks from without. Very often an attack from the outside solidifies a nation and strengthens it’s moral fiber. Lincoln once said he never feared that America would be conquered from without, but that it might fall from within. Lenin once said that America would collapse by spending itself to death, an eventuality that is not too distant with a national debt of a little less than three hundred billion dollars.

Was Walter Whitman speaking of our age as well as his own when he wrote: “Society in these days is cankered, crude, superstitious and rotten….The great cities reek with respectable as well as non-respectable robbery and scoundrels. In fashionable life, flippancy, tepid amours, weak infidelities, small aims, or no aims at all, only to kill time….It is as if we were somehow endowed with a vast and thoroughly appointed body, but then left with little or no soul.”

Whitman’s worry was in the woman’s mind for she was disturbed about our indifference, tepidity and moral apathy. If there is anything that is becoming clear in our national life, it is that so called progressive education is extremely unprogressive. Juvenal delinquency, crime, racketeering, political scandals—–all these illegitimate children are dropped on the doorstep of an educational theory that denied a distinction between right and wrong and assumed that self-restraint was identical with the destruction of personality. Every instinct and impulse in either a child or an adult, does not, if left to itself, necessarily produce good results. Man has a hunting instinct which is good when directed to deer in season, but bad when directed to the police in season or out of season. The disrespect for authority which is the outgrowth of the stupidity that every individual is his own determinant of right and wrong has now become an epidemic of lawlessness.

Some day our educators will awaken to several basic facts about youth: (1) Youth has an intellect and a will. The intellect is the source of his knowledge; the will, the source of his decisions. If his choices are wrong, the youth will be wrong regardless of how much he knows. (2) Education through the communication of knowledge does not necessarily make a good man; it can conceivably make learned devils instead of stupid devils. (3) Education is successful when it trains the mind to see the right targets, and disciplines the will to choose them rather than the wrong targets.

At present two currents manifest themselves in our American way of life: one is the direction of a great development of moral character both in individuals and in the nation; the other is toward the surrender of morality and responsibility through a socialist state in which there will be no morality but state-morality, no conscience but state-conscience. Of the two the first is by far the stronger, though neither politics nor economics has seen it. Some of our educators are turning away from the spoiled child psychology, in which the child was called progressive if he did whatever he wanted; now the return is toward doing a little bit of thinking and working in order to wrest us out of our juvenile delinquency and moral flabbiness.

Youth particularly is yearning for something hard; it no longer believes it’s teachers who say that good or evil is a point of view and it makes no difference in which you believe. They now want to believe that something is so evil that we ought to fight against it, and something is so good that we ought, if necessary, to steel and discipline ourselves and even die to defend it. This latent power of blood and sweat and tears in our American youth will be captured within the next generation by one of the other forces: either by some political crackpot who will turn that desire for sacrifice into something like Nazism, Fascism or Communism, or by our leaders, political, educational and moral who will first show self-discipline and moral courage in their own lives and thus give an example to others.

The greatest responsibility falls on religious leaders whose message ought to be the message the woman wanted from politicians—–the clarion call to restraint on evil influences and the showing forth of altruism and love of God.

Let me know what you think? I think this guy is spot on.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

It's a little spooky. Especially Lenin's statement, if true, that America will "spend itself to death". That is looking more and more like it has come true or is close to coming true.