Monday, September 19, 2011

Lucia Cardinal George Pell on 9/11 and the decline of the West

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is the outstanding religious leader in Britain today. Not surprisingly his small piece on the September 11 anniversary was thought provoking.

He began by pointing out that some saw the 2001 terrorist attack as marking the end of an epoch. The Cold War with Communism was over and the new war with radical violent Islam had begun.

Others believed that terrorist attacks don't change the bases of power, except perhaps by provoking an over-reaction.

Robert McNamara, USA Secretary of Defence to President J.F. Kennedy, claimed that the first rule in politics is to understand the psychology of your enemy. Why then did al-Qa'ida attack the West? Sacks claims that Bin Laden believed the U.S.A. was past its prime, overripe and ready to fall off its tree.

The collapse of the Communist world in 1989 was not due to free market economics or the superiority of liberal democracy, according to Bin Laden. He believed Russia collapsed because their humiliating retreat from Afghanistan set in motion a series of destructive internal crises.

For him, 1989 did not see the triumph of the West, but the end of an era dominated by the twin superpowers of U.S.A. and Russia. For him America too was radically weakened by internal cultural pressures and social disintegration.

Sacks loves our Western way of life, but believes the Islamist terrorists are correct in sensing weakness. Important Western thinkers also believe we have entered a period of cultural decline. The barbarians are not all outside.

He produces much evidence. No longer is there widespread agreement, especially in the media and universities, on theories of right and wrong, as the culture wars demonstrate.

The family is disintegrating, and some actively encourage this. Financial institutions have collapsed, personal debt has increased radically. The American economy is limping, burdened with a debt of trillions of dollars. Some European countries are worse.

More fundamentally, honour, loyalty and integrity are downgraded or rejected. "Me" takes precedence over "we" and pleasure over tomorrow's sustainability. According to Sacks, the most important enemy is not radical Islam but "unsustainable self-indulgence".

Our energy and courage should not be directed primarily to foreign wars, but to renewing our morality and institutions, strengthening families and communities, standards in public life, ethical codes.

Our enemies recognize this central weakness. Therefore the challenge for the Western world is to renew the moral disciplines of freedom.

Can it be done?

I certainly hope it can be done. Without renewal, this culture will die.  And renewal starts with individual renewal, person by person.  If you are not part of the solution, then you are the problem.

4 comment(s):

leftrightout said...

Hey, Lucia, which bits of this are by Pell? Isn't it all by Rabbi Sachs?

This is probably his most important point Sacks loves our Western way of life, but believes the Islamist terrorists are correct in sensing weakness. Important Western thinkers also believe we have entered a period of cultural decline. The barbarians are not all outside.

The last 10 years have proven how many barbarians we harbour within our gates.Bin Laden has won, with the wholesale destruction of freedoms, the trillions wasted in Afghanistan that has brought the US to its knees. Even Australia has lost $10 billion in this war on a noun.

Freedoms are being eroded daily, in the name of security. Even today with the aborted attempt to breach airport security in Auckland,the authorities declare they will toughen security? Why? the existing system was shown to work.

No longer is there widespread agreement, especially in the media and universities, on theories of right and wrong, as the culture wars demonstrate.

I think this echoes your concern that too mnay of us ARE able to discern right from wrong on our own, using reason, not a bunch of bronze age myths. The culture war is in holding back the tide of ignorance the religious right is attempting to impose.

Andrei said...

I think this echoes your concern that too mnay of us ARE able to discern right from wrong on our own, using reason, not a bunch of bronze age myths.

Really?

If that where so then holocaust of the unborn would not be occurring which clearly illustrates that the knowledge of "right from wrong" is sadly lacking amongst the so called enlightened.

And indeed the destruction of the new generations is the very thing that will collapse our civilization which is something that should be obvious to all but strangely isn't

leftrightout said...

Yes, andrei, REALLY.

Abortion as always been with us, these days we are a bit more honest about it, and we don't see the need to criminalise women and doctors.

leftrightout said...

Yes, andrei, REALLY.

Abortion as always been with us, these days we are a bit more honest about it, and we don't see the need to criminalise women and doctors.

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