Aleksander Solzhenitsyn passed away recently, a man I hadn’t heard of until today. Reading about his life at National Review Online (link), I wonder why I wasn’t told more about this giant of a man in my youth.
Solzhenitsyn represented to a generation of Americans who paid attention several important facts of life.
First, that individual liberties are crucial to happiness, and those who would restrict them in the name of good bring only evil instead. Today’s progressives would have you believe that individual liberties include the right to talk with enemies and not have the government spy on you, or the right to live free of all moral bounds and limits. That is simply foolishness. Individual liberties are liberties to own property, to trade freely, to prosper, to speak, to live, to defend oneself, to control government and not be controlled by it. And liberty brings responsibility, the responsibility to preserve that liberty as well as spread it, the responsibility to use liberty wisely. Solzhenitsyn understood this well.
Second, that moral depravity is the necessary result of atheism, and that Christianity is humanity’s only hope. Solzhenitsyn witnessed firsthand what happens to a nation that denounces religion, both on an individual and a grand scale. He suffered, firsthand, the wrong end of that stick. It was enough to change him into a God-fearing Christian, and to dedicate his life to overthrowing the tyranny that is communism and atheism. Christianity did not create the hell on earth that were the gulags. Atheism did. Even the darkest hour of Christianity, when those who claimed the title of Christian had wandered so far away from the path that they felt it necessary to torture in the name of Christ, even the darkest hour doesn’t even compare to what happened in the atheist death camps across the world established by nazis and communists.
Third, that politicians make terrible leaders on both sides of the aisle. We can’t turn to our politicians expecting leadership on the important issues of our day. We have to turn to ourselves to turn the politicians to act on the important issues. A passive population is only inviting trouble in their government.
Fourth, that the true history of the Cold War will never be taught in government schools. The true history of the Cold War teaches us that trust in government is always misplaced. When we entrust our state, our government, to teach us and our children, we have misplaced that trust. If the choice is between well-funded, organized government schools, and underfunded, anarchic charity schools, I would choose the latter. It is critical that we teach our children that government is not the answer, and is, in fact, the recurring problem.