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Thursday, April 03, 2014


"Woe to them who call good evil and evil good"

Isaiah, Hebrew Prophet, 700 BC

In a postmodern age of political correctness and the reign of tolerance as a cardinal virtue, it seems the truth has fallen on hard times. However, if one does an honest assessment of the history of mankind, the question "What is truth?" has been the subject of countless Socratic dialogues, debates and discussions. The search for truth is an ongoing quest.

The words of the Hebrew prophet, Isaiah, at the beginning of this article seem almost eerie in their proverbial style; but they also have a ring of "truth" to them. Something inside the human soul resonates with the idea of "knowing what's right-sensing what is true." The theologian would call it "conscience", the psychologist "superego", the woman "intuition" and the average guy might write it off to indigestion! But in all honesty, we know there is something to it. Somehow truth and the knowledge of that truth are central to our existence as human beings.

All that said, looking back some 31 years ago this month the day Ronald Reagan delivered his speech calling the Soviet Union, the "Evil Empire" we shrug and say, "So? It was the truth." If the truth were so obvious, why the incendiary reaction of the media to his "harsh" words? Could it be that he was finally exposing the Communists for what they were? They were not champions of human rights and "equality", but totalitarian oppressors. To put it simply-they were EVIL. It seems someone had to name the enemy; someone had to tell the TRUTH in order for the world to stand up and take notice.

Ronald Reagan did for us what Thomas Paine did for the colonists under British Tyranny-he called the enemy by name and called freedom lovers to action! It was Common Sense in 1776 and it was Common Sense in the 1980s.

Reagan was a man who lived his entire life in the service of truth. Growing up with the uncertainties of alcoholism (his father Jack was alcoholic), he embraced the simple faith of his mother, Nelle, and vowed to live his life in obedience to a God who put a premium on truth. From his early years in the Midwest, to California and even to Washington D.C., Reagan looked to providence for inspiration and guidance. Certainly the attempt on his life, early in his first term as President, solidified the conviction that he was headed toward a "rendezvous with destiny."

One of his most quoted "mentors" was a man named Whittaker Chambers who had become a spokesman against Communism. He shared Chambers' belief that the most fundamental problem with Communism was atheism-a total absence of faith in God. This left a few self-appointed servants of the "state" as final arbiters of right and wrong-of "truth." In that context morality became a relative issue and the truth was relegated to the service of political power.

To Reagan, this flew in the face of the foundations of freedom laid by the Founding Fathers in America. It reduced humanity to an entity in existence for the collective good. The rights of the individual were of no significance; freedom was a universal commodity which depended on equality rather than true equality emerging as the outcome of individual freedom.

In his mind, peace without freedom was not true peace at all. True peace preserves freedom-it does not sacrifice the individual on the altar of the collective. He fully believed that all men were created equal and had certain rights by virtue of their humanity. The Soviet Union-the "evil" empire, by infringing on these inalienable rights was usurping the place of God. As a result, the "Great Communicator" used the many platforms of his life as an actor, salesman, radio/television personality and politician to herald what he believed to be true, right and the God-ordained responsibility of a good leader.

His voice was most clearly heard when he was communicating his passionate love of liberty to a receptive audience. He felt most alive when he was speaking to the American people. Today we hear the echo of his voice as we "listen" to the speeches he gave from the podium at the 1964 Republican National Convention, on the shore at Omaha Beach in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, at the Brandenburg gate or from behind his desk in the oval office.

It's a voice which clearly sounds the words which have created history in this country; it has echoed around the world. It is the voice of prophecy which called for the inevitable demolition of the Berlin wall, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

It is a voice of conviction, of conscience, of courage. It is one of charisma, charity, and collaboration without compromise. Above all, it is a voice of compassion. He genuinely cared for the people behind the iron curtain whose God-given rights were trampled, whose families were torn apart, whose places of worship were demolished, and whose personal identity and dignity were diminished. It was his voice which sounded out the truth boldly enough so no one could ignore it. It has delivered hope and sparked a new appreciation for the message of freedom.

As President Reagan linked arms with Pope John Paul II, British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher and other leaders in the free world, people began to lift their heads from the despair and weight of oppression. They dared to believe again. Hope was rekindled and people all over the world caught an optomist's vision through the eyes of faith backed by the resolve of an iron will.

Reagan himself often drew on the arsenal which he referred to as the "greatest and most effective in the entire world-the moral courage of free men and women" to reinforce his message. It became fuel for the fires of courage and resistance. This light from the "city on a hill" would eventually topple the "evil empire" and rescue the planet from the threat of nuclear war-a catastrophe which could have plunged it into a "thousand years of darkness."

"Freedom is only one generation away from extinction," Reagan often said. Listen to his voice-let it reverberate and resonate in your soul until it becomes your own.

Let Freedom Ring.


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