Twilight of a Great Nation

Luther Blackmon
Clermont, Florida

I have misplaced the article and forgotten the writer's name, but I recently read this statement: "No nation has ever out-lived its gods." Shorn of his belief in something or someone higher than himself, man is just other animal, and governments are not founded and rim by animals. In the very nature of the thing, then, it would follow that nations do not long outlive their gods.

The deification of science on the one hand, and the sterilization of Bible religion on the other, has provided an atmosphere favorable to atheism, particularly for the young. Vice President Agnew (one of my favorites), in his characteristically colorful way, added this note: "We must look to how we are raising our children. They are, for the most part, children of affluent, permissive, upper class parents who learned their Dr. Spock and threw discipline out the window when they should have done the opposite. They are the children dropped off by their parents at Sunday school to hear the modern gospel by a progressive preacher more interested in fighting pollution than fighting evil - one of those pleasant clergymen who lifts his weekly sermons out of old news letters from a national council of churches that has cast morality and theology aside as "not relevant," and set as its goal on earth the recognition of Red China and the preservation of the Florida alligator." Time Magazine, May 11, 1970).

In 1965 I saw the place where the Pilgrim Fathers, first colonists in New England, stepped ashore on American soil. There is a replica of the old ship "Mayflower," as well as a model house, built just as the ones which they built for their homes. In this little house they have a wax figure of a man with a Bible in his hands. We make no defense of the error in their religion. But they believed in God. And with this belief in their hearts and their guns and axes in their hands, they hewed out of the wilderness the beginnings of the greatest country the history of the world has recorded.

But no nation is greater than its people. They are the nation. And when enough people in any nation become spiritually and morally sick enough, that nation can die. And when we have half a million divorces a year, touching the lives of 15 million people; when one out of six teenage girls who marry are already with child; when we witness violence and lawlessness not before seen (three women have been murdered in the Orlando area in the past two or three weeks); and then when criminals are brought to trial they usually are exonerated on some legal technicality, or, if convicted they are given a mild sentence, the concern and sympathy of the courts seemingly are more for the rights of the criminal than for his victim. I did not think well of the people (some thirty of them) who listened to the woman's screams for help while she was being murdered in a New York apartment house, and offered no help - not even to call the police. BUT, I can understand why. They likely thought that there was a good chance the murderer would be released, if captured, and might pay a call on the one who interfered.

America has never lost a war. Neither did Rome. It rotted and fell apart. Its downfall was attributed to five things: (1) Rapid increase in divorce. (2) Higher taxes and spending public money on bread and celebration. (3) Mad craze for pleasure. (4) Building gigantic armaments when the real trouble was within, the decadence of the people. (5) Decay of religion - faith fading into form. These are almost like looking into a mirror. No democracy has lasted more than 200 years. This one is now 194 years old. Six more years? Where would the poor mafia go?

January 21, 1971