Imagine surviving the communist labor camps only to be boo’d off a stage at one of the most prestigious colleges in the U.S. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave a commencement address to the Harvard graduates of 1978 without the hero’s reception he deserved. Why did these elite Ivy League graduates get so angry with him? The answer, sadly, is a foreboding sign of this nation’s demise. America is becoming truth’s wasteland.
Solzhenitsyn was a commander in the Red Army during WWII. During the war, he wrote a personal letter to a friend and explained why he disagreed with Stalin. That personal note was the basis of Solzhenitsyn being convicted and sentenced to the Gulag; a forced labor camp.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a book Solzenhitsyn wrote describing life in a labor camp, explains how the communist regime of the Soviet Union viewed truth. A worker asked what time it was. Seeing the sun at the apex of the sky, another answered and said it was noon. An older worker quickly retorted that when the sun was at it’s peak, it was one o’clock, because of course, the government said so. The state determines the truth, and, as a slave to the regime, you believe it.
As the years go by, truth in America is growing weak. America now brushes aside truth as irrelevant. Man grows more and more accustomed to thinking that he is the ultimate deciding factor of what is or is not truth. He is the judge. The ability to know and to discern truth is what sets man apart from animals. Ever since the Fall of Adam, truth-sayers, prophets, and righteous men are silenced and condemned. Like Solzhenitsyn, truth-sayers are being boo’d off the stage of public life.
“The farther a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” -George Orwell
The Future of Truth in the West
Solzhenitsyn, in his address, spoke the truth of where the Western culture was headed due to materialism. This materialism is of a deadly breed because it forcibly shoves religious affection outside the door. Truth, according to Solzhenitsyn, is for the benefit of those who listen. Yes, it may be hard to swallow, nonetheless, it needs to be swallowed.
What Solzhenitsyn pointed out were two issues in the West:
- Because of the freedom afforded to its citizens, pleasure and comfort were placed as the highest goal.
- By placing pleasure and comfort at the top, the West has been weakened.
With certain freedoms enjoyed like those in the West, shadows follow close behind. We pursue desires which will increase our pleasure and comfort. We get those things, but desire more. This constant desire for more ends up weakening us by worry and at times, depression. There is nothing wrong with desiring the comforts of life. But, when we place those desires at the pinnacle of life’s priorities, the more we neglect those things that are virtuous, moral, and eternal.
The evolution of the West has consequently landed its people into believing that the law of the land is the highest authority. The only problem is, moral truth and the objectivity of truth is under attack, leaving man to determine what the rule of law is. Man creating moral laws based upon his own morality leads to tyranny. Individual rights have trumped individual obligation.
“Man creating moral laws based upon his own morality leads to tyranny.”
Solzhenitsyn also rubbed his audience wrong when he mentioned that the East was producing stronger people than the West due to the hardships suffered throughout the 20th Century. His message was that we in the West have grown feeble. Our soft feet cannot handle the callousing required for the onward march.
The West, replacing the Creator with creation, has left itself opened to the sharp rebuke of Solzhenitsyn. We are worshipping material needs and happiness in the here and now. In 1978 Solzhenitsyn gave the caution. Now, in the 21st Century, we are seeing the irrational, chaotic, and nonsensical hogwash that has come down the pike.
Solzhenitsyn is one who experienced first hand the effects of man placing himself on God’s throne; he wanted to caution the West as a friend, not an enemy. The then-future elites of America despised Solzhenitsyn’s warning. The elites that just so happen to be ruling our country. It should be of no surprise the future of the West, for, it will probably be similar to the past of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
For Further Discussion:
Solzhenitsyn on Russia and the West by Intellectual Takeout