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Monday, April 20, 2009

Solzhenitsyn on Moral Courage

My friend, Rick Lobs, has a terrific blog where he discusses social and political developments in the US. Today he speaks of how he was deeply moved by a portion of Solzhenitsyn's Harvard speech. He considers it "an oracle for our day".

Rick writes, "We as a nation have lost our courage... The political correctness, niceness, and identification with the social engineering of the secular culture are just old, tired and completely lacking in courage."

I agree. Here is the portion of Solzhenitsyn's speech to which he refers.

If I were today addressing an audience in my country (Russia), examining the overall pattern of the world's rifts I would have concentrated on the East's calamities. But since my forced exile in the West has now lasted four years and since my audience is a Western one, I think it may be of greater interest to concentrate on certain aspects of the West in our days, such as I see them.A Decline in Courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days.

The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society.

Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life.

Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?"

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