Welcome to this blog which is dedicated to providing a forum for a civil discourse on a variety of issues to try and make our society a truly better place for all. While the views expressed are strictly my personal opinions, please feel free to join in on these conversations accepting the premises that every attempt will be made to ensure that nothing but the truth be spoken and the truth be heard.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"The Last Best Hope"

Once again the best laid plans for topical discussion have been over-ridden by events.  In this case it was an e-mail this past week from a close friend with an attached video link for me to watch as a possible subject for a blog.  At first I dismissed the idea because I had some real reservations about whether or not the entire message, including its delivery and tone, reflected what I truly believe.  Then, I started to think about the purpose of this blog vis-a-vis the established Mission and realized that it is not my intent to filter expression of ideas and beliefs based on my value system, but rather to, hopefully, stimulate a rational interchange of various thoughts and ideas that span a wide spectrum of values and beliefs.  With this goal in mind I have decided to take up my friend's offer to comment on this video in the hope that it will do just that. 
But first let me provide a frame of reference.  The setting is a question and answer period at the conclusion of a speech at the University of Denver by Dennis Prager on May 24, 2010.  I had never heard of this person before receiving this video and knew nothing about him, but a quick Google search revealed he is obviously a well educated, highly thought of conservative radio talk show host and television personality in Los Angeles who has very strong views on politics, society and American values.  He speaks three languages, has traveled and lectured throughout the world, written on a variety of subjects, produced movies and videos, appeared on national television programs, conducted orchestras, authored four books, and even taught courses at the collegiate level.  In short, he appears to be a very passionate and accomplished person. 
My main objection to the video is the overly simplistic, dogmatic, judgmental, I've-got-the-answer-and-the-answer-is way in which he presents his opinions.  Wouldn't it be great if life and the complexities of the modern, multi-culture world were as easily solvable as he makes them to be.  Also, I am a little bit put off by people who try to define what my American values are, or should be, particularly as we recognize the 66th anniversary of the D-Day liberation of Europe on this very date in 1945.  Oddly, he seems to ridicule that very Europe and France's concept of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity) born out of the French Revolution just because they emphasize the very quality of life issues which all civilized nations should want their citizens to enjoy. 
Even though there might be some merit to his thesis that there has been a breakdown between that greatest generation of 1945 and now regarding what it means to be an American, I am not convinced that that constitutes what he labels as our single greatest national threat.  Furthermore, he seems to be rather vague on specifically stating what he thinks the benchmarks for being an American are, but perhaps they were covered in his speech beforehand.  He further attempts to frame Americanism and what it should mean to the rest of the contemporary world in the context of Abraham Lincoln's famous reference to "the last best hope" which was made at the conclusion of his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862.  My reading of that quote tells me it related to freeing the slaves, preservation of our Union and the world's perception of both to wit:
"We say we are for the Union.  The world will not forget that we say this.  We know how to save the Union.  The world knows we do know how to save the Union.  We..even we here..hold the power, and bear the responsibility.  In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free..honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve.  We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.  Other means may succeed; this could not fail.  The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just..a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless".  
In any event, in keeping with my statement in the first paragraph above, I am providing that link at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNUc8nuo7HI to give you an opportunity to judge for yourself.

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