With Camden Point’s rich educational legacy that contributed so profoundly to the shaping of our community, and the crisis of leftism, socialism and progressivism presently facing our schools, universities and much of western society today, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a man who witnessed firsthand the impact these destructive philosophies had on his country and his people. Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was a Russian writer and historian who, amongst many things, helped raise awareness of the atrocities surrounding the Soviet Union’s forced labor camps. Although his works were often suppressed in his own nation, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, and later expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974. He returned to his homeland in 1994.
On June 8 of 1978, Mr. Solzhenitsyn delivered an address titled, “A World Split Apart” to Harvard’s graduates. Remember, this was during a time when American Progressives weren’t quite as vigorous in censoring “unpopular” views that the Left found intolerable. Solzhenitsyn’s opening words discussed the Harvard motto of “Veritas” (Truth), and how truth will elude us if we don’t give full attention to its pursuit – something which many public schools and institutions of so-called “higher learning” throughout Missouri and beyond seem to have forgotten. As such, he went on to say that, “even while it eludes us, the illusion of knowing it still lingers and leads to many misunderstandings. Also, truth is seldom pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter.”
Alexander also stated in “A World Split Apart” that, “Two hundred, or even fifty, years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries, with their great reserve of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic…all of the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the twentieth century’s moral poverty, which no one could imagine even as late as in the nineteenth century.”
Meanwhile, as leftists force their intensely partisan ideologies upon many through the abuse of the American court system (as well as the Supreme Court), Mr. Solzhenitsyn – who had spent significant portions of his life under the abuses of leftism as realized through a communist regime – believed that a society without any objective legal scale is indeed a terrible one. “But a society with no other scale than the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses. And it will be, simply, impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.”
Lastly, Solzhenitsyn warns in “Voice from the Gulag” (Eternity, October 1985 pp. 23-4), that “I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’”
Note: The artwork displayed within this post are old World War 2 posters that have been slightly updated for modern audiences. Thoughts on atheism, leftism, socialism, christianity, censorship or the state of modern education today in our communities? Leave us a comment! We’d love to hear from you.