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OPINION

The Great Divide: Morality, Not Politics

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

As any good historian will tell you, great nations/empires are not “born,” they arise either from lowly beginnings or they overthrow tyranny to become free.  Either way, the process is long, arduous, and problematic.  It takes people of virtue, courage, and self-sacrifice to rise from nothing to greatness.  For a civilization to do that is grueling, which is why there are so few great empires in history among the countless tribes and peoples who have populated our puny planet.

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Only when virtue and hard work are superior to debauchery and weakness (which always exists, too) can a nation become strong and wealthy.  It will rise above its neighbors and often dominate them (sometimes becoming a tyranny itself, though not always).  Regardless, wealth once attained wants to be enjoyed.  So, the lesson of history is that when people “have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat,” they forget their God and the principles that produced that wealth and supremacy in the first place.  The decline begins.  Mediocrity sets in first.  And then, often, there is total collapse.  How many Babylonians exist today?

But, the bottom line is, in the modern terminology, the people become liberals.

We sometimes wonder why so many Americans today are “liberal” (Democrats and RINOs).  They are overrunning and destroying the country; you and I can see that, but they can’t, and we cannot understand why they can’t.  It’s not really that complicated.  Being a liberal is very easy, and when a people do indeed, “eat, fill themselves, and get fat,” then conquering themselves becomes the most dubious of all tasks.  

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile” (Plato).  Conquer thyself.  Try it sometime.  How many people can really do it?  Especially when there are endless treasures and pleasures to be wallowed in and consequences are delayed.  Yet it is the most necessary virtue of all.  But the most difficult.  And liberals don’t even try.  They don’t think in those terms, they only think in terms of “eat, fill yourself, get fat,” in other words, the immediate self-gratification.  That is the very essence of today’s liberalism. 

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In a democracy, when depravity becomes too widespread or dominant, the government will, of course, endorse such hedonistic behavior (often even financing it) because these people are voters.  So, in Congress, liberalism means legislation protecting and promoting debauchery and licentiousness.  And, because of the wealth created during the country’s period of virtue and hard work, Congress is able to spend as much of other people’s money as it wishes, to buy the votes that keep the lazy, indolent, and self-indulgent in bondage and Congresspeople in power. And they never worry about it because Congress, too, thinks only in terms of present fulfillment—the next election.  It’s a vicious circle.  Decadent people elect a decadent government which encourages more decadence in order to remain in power.  It is a cycle that feeds on itself and, once begun, seems virtually impossible to break.  

Liberal “morality” is basically a “live and let live” philosophy.  And while even Jesus never compelled people to obey him (nor should we), liberals take this principle to its logical conclusion of licentiousness and utter dissipation—“freedom” with no restraints.  As James Madison wisely noted, “Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as by the abuses of power.”  There must be some restraint on freedom; we cannot let every human do as they wish. 

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There is no contradiction between liberty and morality; indeed, liberty cannot exist without morality.  But Madison’s meaning is that if liberty is stretched beyond morality, then demands for “liberty” will eventually erode the freedoms of others who are not so shameless in their moral persuasions.   Too many welfare recipients don’t want to work; they want the “freedom” to live their indigent lifestyle.  A society can only survive a minimal amount of that.  But when they demand I pay for their indolence, I say, “NO! You have no right to my money!”   But, under liberalism, I’m not allowed to protest.  Liberals want only freedom, not restraint; they accept none of the latter.  Or, more accurately, they demand the exclusive right to define what restraints should exist.  But, thus far, there has been almost no restraints on the Left’s “morality.”  This is the great divide in America today.  Not politics.  Morality.

The “live and let live” moral philosophy is very easy and requires no thought, no backbone, no character, and no moral strength.  Many so-called conservatives are caught up in it, too.  But liberals are very generous.  They will let you enjoy the same lifestyle and philosophy they do.  Just allow them to rule, to set all the standards, and to do whatever they wish, with only liberal-defined restrictions. That’s liberalism.  Trouble-free and what most people want.  Until it’s time to pay the bills.  Then somebody else should do that.  Because “responsibility” and “consequences” are two words not in the Left’s dictionary.

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Hard work, self-discipline, virtue, self-sacrifice—"conquering thyself”—are the most difficult achievements for humans.  But, unfortunately, history teaches over and over and over again that they are the roots of success and true freedom.  

The key again is, there is no freedom without morality, because morality is what curtails vile human behavior.  Either morality, or government.  And if it requires government to restrict venality, then there will be no freedom, only tyranny.   Edmund Burke: “Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.  It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free.  Their passions forge their fetters.” 

Conquer thyself.  Or be conquered by someone else.

Liberals never conquer themselves.  It’s too hard.

And it’s just what government loves.

Don’t miss out on some good American reading from the good ol’ days.  My western novels, Whitewater and River Bend, are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Eliva.com.  A third western, Allie’s Dilemma, is available for Kindle only.   And read some different posts on my blog at thailandlewis.blogspot.com.

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