Published 8:08 pm Thursday, July 8, 2010
To the Editor:
A particularly memorable speech I heard many years ago keeps coming back to mind.&bsp; The speech was given by Dr. Lawrence McKinley Gould, world-renowned geologist, explorer (the Arctic and Antarctica) and educator. The occasion was his retirement as President of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. It was 1957, a time when The Cold War and Sputnik filled the land with a profound sense of fear and anxiety.
. . . the crises that face all mankind (today) are incomparably more dangerous than anything that has gone before, he said. But somehow I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I dont think our civilization will die that way. I think it will die when people no longer care when the spiritual forces that make us wish to be right and noble die in the hearts of men. Arnold Toynbee has pointed out that 19 of 21 notable civilizations have died from within and not by conquest from without. There were no bands playing and no flags waving when these civilizations decayed; it happened slowly, in the quiet and the dark when no one was aware.
I think only one thing can save us, and that is a reorientation of our sense of values, a rededication to the spiritual values on which American institutions have really rested since the days of our founding fathers.
That commentary is as appropriate today maybe more so as it was in 1957. My submitting it again was triggered by two events: The first, a recent newspaper article that announced another czar to monitor Wall Street to, in effect, somehow legislate fundamental morality/integrity. &bsp;
The misdeeds of certain elements of the financial community, certain public officials and many in the general public that are at the core of our current economic and social dilemmas are really rooted in conduct/behavior that was considered unthinkable/unconscionable/patently wrong only a few decades ago. Remember the Seven Deadly Sins: Anger, Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride and Sloth? Hasnt ignoring them contributed to virtually everything in the disturbed state in which we find ourselves today?
The second event was Charles Cecils Memorial Service on Monday at the Tryon Presbyterian Church. Charles personified all that was right and noble and was conspicuously dedicated to spiritual values. His Memorial Service appropriately celebrated his life. But we all have to lament that this model citizen can no longer be&bsp; the voice he was for what is right and noble.