Saturday, December 17, 2005

Why I Fight

I recently received this latest email from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who is president of Toward Tradition, that should be posted to his website very shortly. It is a very eloquent and shines more light on the reason why Jews and Christians are here both in times past and in the present. I promise you that it is well worth your time to read that will inspire you to continue to fight on for what is good and right.

Heeb out

Readers of my columns which often excoriate secularizing organizations, may of them Jewish, frequently ask me, “Lapin, why do you fight?” My answer is always the same. I fight to preserve an America comprising millions of diverse citizens all with their own beliefs yet who are united by a common view of what constitutes virtuous behavior.

Living among people who do not behave virtuously is at the very least unpleasant. It is usually also intimidating, and ultimately dangerous and expensive.

If many of my fellow citizens are unable to restrain themselves from criminal conduct, the quality of my life declines. An evening stroll through the neighborhood becomes a frightening experience. My cost of living goes up as commerce compensates for shoplifting, fraud, and robbery. Mounting regulations rob me of my freedoms as government futilely attempts to control the anti-social behavior of those who have lost the ability to control themselves.

If many of my fellow citizens strip the sacred out of sex, the quality of my life declines. My struggle to reach for the stars, already difficult, becomes infinitely harder as the culture around me shackles me to the barnyard. I struggle to raise my children for a life of refinement and spiritual aspiration while hormonal hysteria competes for their attention. One can tell people by the language they use and the language around us becomes ever more vulgar and obscene. One can tell much by how people dress and my daughters are made to feel like freaks because they don’t expose their belly buttons, breasts, or thighs.

If many of my fellow citizens replace courage with cowardice, the quality of my life declines. They may cloak their cowardice in virtue by speaking of pacifism or wishing to save lives but their abject fear nonetheless empowers tyranny. Their fear of confronting evil means they see only victims, never villains. They see only the deprived and never the depraved. They make it all but impossible for government to fulfill its primary purpose—defending citizens from violence. It is cowardice when government fails to empower the military to protect us from violence perpetrated by outside enemies. It is cowardice again when our criminal justice system fails to protect us from violence inflicted by conscienceless psychopaths.

Crime, sex, and cowardice are all natural. They are found in nature. Animals seize one another’s food, they respond instinctively to the sexual impulse, and, given the choice, they run rather than fight. I think that God may have hoped for better from humanity. We all live more happily when we live among people who do not act upon their natures but resist them. The quality of all our lives is enhanced when we each conquer our natures.

If we hope to deter crime only through police, why, there cannot be enough police officers to prevent crime. For in the final analysis, who will police the police? In similar vein, all the sex-ed classes in public education are inadequate to prevent young human bodies from responding instinctively to the sexual impulse. With regard to cowardice, the rarity of courage reminds us of how banal is cowardice. It is the natural reflexive response to frightening challenge.

In other words, it seems to me that our only hope of escaping increasing crime is either increased rates of incarceration or alternatively if we each recover our own capability to reject the lure of crime. Not because we might get caught by a policeman but because we loathe the idea of sullying our souls. It used to be that way. I’m sure you remember a time when Americans seldom locked their doors.

Our only hope for replacing public depravity and animalism is if we all raise children who revel in modesty and who take pride in saving themselves for marriage. No government program can accomplish this. Our only hope for recovering national courage is if we once again find meaning in masculinity and we view cowardly behavior as shameful rather than as newsworthy.

However government cannot effect any of these changes. But God can. I think there may be only one hope for restoring and maintaining the quality of life which originally made America such a magnet for the world’s downtrodden seeking a better life. That one hope is a Biblical blueprint for civilization.

It is no accident that in the many American communities of Orthodox Jews, dedicated Catholics, and serious Evangelicals these problems are considerably less severe.

I say “Biblical” because only the Bible is built on the lesson of the Garden of Eden. Man is placed in this world to do battle with nature—all nature, especially his own. Left to itself, the earth will bring forth weeds and thistles but man must make it yield food. Left to itself, the jungle will overwhelm the city but man must defend civilization. Left to himself, man will follow his nature toward crime, animalistic sex, and cowardice. It is our God-given duty to resist. As Kathryn Hepburn said to Humphrey Bogart in that wonderful movie, African Queen, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”

That is what I am fighting for and if my children understand this, it would be enough for me. However, I am blessed with armies of allies. Blacks, whites, and all other colors, Jews and Christians, rich and poor, men and women—all of us recognize the secularism that jeopardizes the very quality of our lives. We also recognize that a similar diversity of Americans see things very differently. If they win, we lose. We can’t both win. That is why I fight. And I hope you’re alongside me too.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin


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