Friday, June 19, 2009

Reason Throughout History

In my original version of the The Mustard Seed, there was an Afterward - a final section of the book which helped flesh out the future of Brian, Heather, and Troy.

Ultimately, I decided that the book worked better without the Afterward, so I discarded it.

However, it contained a section that I'd like to preserve for posterity. In it, Brian and Troy discuss the ceaseless violence and corruption in humanity.

Brian [the narrator] says...

“The root of the problem is, in my opinion, a lack of thinking. If you look back at history, there has been a lot of mindless destruction – led by ruthless men eager to be immortalized by unborn scribes, and carried out by hapless followers, motivated by the simple desire to ‘belong’ and ‘be a part of something larger than themselves.’

“But reason – once it’s unleashed onto the world – is an extremely formidable force. Looking back at history, reason shined at different places in different times – such as Ancient Greece, or Renaissance Italy – only to eventually flicker out. Then, thankfully, reason took root in a virgin continent – and indeed an entire nation was founded on the idea of reason. We live in that nation: The United States of America.

“The Founding Fathers believed in rational principles – freedom, individual rights, democracy, justice – and built a government on those principles. Furthermore, they never saw reason as an enemy of faith. They saw reason and faith as important pillars of their republic. For instance, it was George Washington, our first President, who said, ‘Religion is as necessary to reason, as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other, and it is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being.” Decades later, Washington’s republic was preserved by another moral giant – Abraham Lincoln – who orchestrated and won the Civil War with the philosophy – in his own words – that ‘reason, cold, calculating reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense.’

“Now, please note that the Founding Fathers – and Lincoln – did not create a ‘perfect union.’ Instead, they aspired to create – in the words of the Constitution – a ‘more perfect union.’ They left the task of perfecting it to future generations – and indeed, every generation of Americans has faced challenges to our way of life, and every single time, they have met that challenge – and extended the reach of freedom. I have a feeling we will be challenged again.”

“Is our generation up to the challenge?” Troy asked.

“I think so,” I replied deliberately. “I hope so. But I don’t know for sure. As Ronald Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.' If we choose to win, we will win; if we choose not to choose – and leave our destiny in the hands of others - we may very well lose. I think it’s that simple."

“The future belongs to those who want it most,” declared Troy.

“Hmm,” I replied. “I like that.”

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