Without circumscribing an entire history of the world, most Americans know that it was once the norm for populations to be ruled, sometimes quite ruthlessly. In fact, governance (versus rule) is a fairly recent development, geopolitically speaking. I believe that our system of government having evolved into what it did makes it manifestly superior to others, but that’s an entire story unto itself.
Whether one studies the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, or the monarchs of Asia or Europe, for millennia, people lived and died at the whims of the most powerful. A clan or warlord killed their way to the top and seized power over a region. The people under their sway were provided protection in exchange for some form or forms of homage. Once their power was established, the ruler, ruling family or class could concentrate on becoming pretentiously “cultured.”
The right of such agencies to the power they amassed was often said to be a result of Divine Will. In the case of some – such as the rulers of Egypt – the sovereign was even touted to be a god himself. What rationale was used to persuade the people that their supreme rulers were such due to Divine Will? Well, if it weren’t the will of the gods (or God) for them to hold such lofty positions, then they wouldn’t be there in the first place, now would they?
Pretty convenient …
In such circumstances, populations were not accustomed to feeling entitled to much of anything. They considered themselves fortunate not to be summarily carted off on any given day, to be raped or murdered for some warlord or nobleman’s sport.
With the advent of Christianity and Judeo-Christian sensibilities in the West, the view of the relationship between people and their governments began to evolve. With such events as the signing of the Magna Carta (1215), the Mayflower Compact (1620) and the Declaration of Independence (1776), aspects of Natural Law (which held that there were rights bestowed upon people by their Creator) that wound all the way back to basic principles found in Mosaic Law gave way to the idea that people were capable of self-governance, the caveat being that their supreme allegiance ought to be to God.
Most importantly, notions of liberty and sanctity of life became inculcated into the Western worldview. This did not occur in other societies, and the evidence thereof is still readily observable.
In the United States, for the first time, the government was subject to the people, rather than the reverse. By and by, the prosperity and comfort to which freedom under the American system gave rise also gave rise to intellectual indolence. We became spoiled. We also became disengaged, which allowed philosophically opposed forces (progressives) to gain a political foothold.
What febrile, intellectually superficial rank-and-file liberals fail to grasp is that the core tenets of our culture, which are unique to it, had their genesis in Christianity – whether they like it or not. In their infantile fantasy relative to what America “should” be, they presume that all of the things they take for granted – life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech, worship, freedom of ownership, etc. – will somehow still be guaranteed, despite their leaders’ diametric opposition to this paradigm.
In the first century, a belief system centered around a loving, self-sacrificing God was novel. Previously, there was simply no compelling reason for people to behave kindly or equitably toward one another (except for that of obedience, as in Mosaic Law). In preceding cultures (some of which still predominate in certain regions), life itself was notoriously cheap. Westerners – and liberal ones in particular – operate upon the laughable assumption that if we treat people as we would like to be treated, they will reciprocate in kind.
Which just illustrates that liberals excel at nothing else if not denial.
This was illustrated superbly in an original episode of the “Star Trek” series called “Bread and Circuses.” Here, the Enterprise crew encounters an Earth-like, technologically advanced society resembling the Roman Empire. It is what the writers (one of whom being the series creator Gene Roddenberry himself, I might add) thought might reasonably be extrapolated had Christian values never taken hold in the West. In this society, sex and death were central to the culture. Personal power reigned supreme. Life had no value. Gladiators and live executions were broadcast on prime-time television. The “Christ” figure had been crucified a scant few years before, so his teachings were just beginning to spread. Most of his scattered but dedicated followers were slaves.
As we celebrate Christmas and give thanks for America’s blessings, one of the things I believe it appropriate to consider is the very paradigm of thought and life that we hold, solely due to Christ’s ministry. While this is something that was once acknowledged and paid deference even by non-Christians, given the increasing assaults on Christianity by secular socialists, it is something all Americans could stand to re-affirm. Christ was not only the salvation of humankind in the spiritual realm, but the salvation of society in a cultural sense.