Survival as What?


Friends of Padre Steve’s World

The events, including the executive orders and actions of President Trump on a number of subject over the past few days have given me cause for much concern. Likewise, seeing the comments of people that I know personally doing backflips to justify actions that had they been done by any other President leave me dumbfounded. I have Muslim friends, including friends who are Naval officers with distinguished careers of service to this country whose families now live in fear because of what has been unleashed. People I know are being threatened by people who don’t just want political power to enact tax cuts, repeal the ACA, or reduce regulations, but who want to crush and destroy their opposition. Some of the memes that I have seen on Facebook and Twitter are to be kind, little better than Julius Streicher and Joseph Goebbel’s Nazi murder inducing racist pornography of the Third Reich. If you have never been physically threatened by such people you have no idea, I have been threatened more times than I can count going back to 2010, well before the advent of President Trump.

In the television series Star Trek the Next Generation there is an episode called The Drumhead. In it there is a dialogue between Captain Picard and his Chief of Security, Lieutenant Worf. It sums up what I am feeling regarding the events of the last week.

Lieutenant Worf: “Sir, the Federation does have enemies. We must seek them out.”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: “Oh, yes. That’s how it starts. But the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think. Something is wrong here, Mister Worf. I don’t like what we have become.”

I do not like what we have become.

For me this is not about political party, though I did have a number of people suggest this. My political beliefs, while liberal and progressive are founded on the premise in the proposition of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, which was reiterated by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, that “all men are created equal.”

Those who have read my writings for any length of time have heard me talk about that time after time, whether it be in the words of Jefferson, Madison, Virginia Baptist leader John Leland, and of course Lincoln himself. What the Trump administration is doing today is destroying that proposition before our eyes in the name of the false god of security, flamed by fear, suspicion, hatred, and ignorance. He promises a utopia where he will “make America great again,” but to quote Spencer Tracy’s character in the film Inherit the Wind: As long as the prerequisite for that shining paradise is ignorance, bigotry and hate, I say the hell with it.”

If followed to their logical end, it will be then end of the proposition that is the spiritual heart of the United States of America. It is the one proposition that set us apart, even when imperfectly done, that set us apart from every nation on earth. It is the one thing that most Americans ancestors came to this country to enjoy; the proposition that “we hold these truth to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”  

Charles Morgan Jr. who I have written about before, wrote these haunting words after the bombing the the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham by members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964:

“It is not by great acts but by small failures that freedom dies. . . . Justice and liberty die quietly, because men first learn to ignore injustice and then no longer recognize it.”

That my friends is happening today before our very eyes. Judge Learned Hand, perhaps the best qualified man ever to not serve on the Supreme Court wrote,

“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. The spirit of Liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of Liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of Liberty is that which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias.” 

During the climax of The Drumhead, Captain Picard tells his inquisitor, “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.”

The question is: Will we sell the very proposition that sets us apart from all other nations for the false god of security? of survival? If so, we have to answer the question: “survival as what?”

That is the question my friends that I leave you with to start this week. Survival as what?


Padre Steve+



Filed under civil rights, ethics, History, holocaust, national security, News and current events, Political Commentary

2 responses to “Survival as What?

  1. Padre Steve, your words touch my hart. They are true, universal and of all times.
    The worries you have I share.
    Elections in the US turned out to be so damaging for that what you hould dear.
    I am Dutch as you might know and the choice of US President scares me greatly. The repurcussions international are not to be unestimated.

    Predominently Americans did have the tendency to compare everything and everybody with nazi-Germany.
    This annoyed me because the comparisons they made as the conditions in the US were the same.
    It has shocked me how easily they compared, how easily they abused the victims again by placing pictures of the atrocities just to prove their point. A point that didn’t demanded such extreem action.

    I am a child of parents who were young adults during WWII.
    My father and his father had to go in hiding like many men and boys had to to not to be rounded up for the Arbeitseinzatz. Than in December 1944 it escalated into whatwas later called ‘The sorrow of Roermond’ in Dutch ‘Het verdriet van Roermond’
    This in itself was so traumatic.
    In the end my father did come back home. So ill that they feared for his live.He recovered but it left him scarred in body and soul.
    My mother and her family had to evacuate in January 1945.
    The reason was that Roermond, the city where they lived became between the frontline for months. Thousends, the old, the young, the very young, the infirm had to walk or where transported into Germany to a town just across the border. There they were transported in cattlecarriges to the north. A sigh of relief as they saw that the train was on Dutch soil again. A journey with stops in the middle of nowhere. Being shot allied planes. She and her family ended up in Leeuwarden, the capital of Province Friesland.
    Months later as they were able to return to Roermond, their house was badly damaged and plundered.. So my mother had her scars of the soul to deal with.

    You will rightly so asked why I tell you all this.
    First I know you will understand the problem I have with Americans do lightharly using nazi-related words for the most trivual issues.
    The last year or so I spent a lot of thought on resistence. Why did people resist, why didn’t they, why did they stay silent, why did they collaborated.

    Your posts of the last few monthsI regognized your vision and your stand as the same as mine. That is why your referral towards the history of Germany in the first five decades of the 20th century is beone acceptable to me because you pin-point the beginnings and the importance of taking a stand than.

    As you might know we have Geert Wilders. I have/will NEVER vote for him as MP.
    I will let my voice be hearded against ideas.
    Thanks for your posts on these issues

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