Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, RIP
The great Russian writer died yesterday.
.... Thirty years ago (June 8, 1978), he delivered a famous commencement address at Harvard:
.... A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.
Political and intellectual functionaries exhibit this depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their self-serving rationales as to how realistic, reasonable, and intellectually and even morally justified it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And the decline in courage, at times attaining what could be termed a lack of manhood, is ironically emphasized by occasional outbursts and inflexibility on the part of those same functionaries when dealing with weak governments and with countries that lack support, or with doomed currents which clearly cannot offer resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.
Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?...
Unfortunately, it hardly needs to be said that his bold observations still apply, perhaps now more than ever.
Requiescat in pace.
See also "A World Split Apart": Twenty-Fifth Anniversary.
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Mon. 08/04/08 06:39:59 PM
Categorized as International & Literary.