Few of the Jews living comfortably in Warsaw, Poland, in say 1935, had the faintest idea that life as they knew it was about to end. In less than five years normal life in luxurious mansions would be replaced by unspeakable horror in torture camps so terrible that death itself was a relief.
I do not suggest that we shall confront such severe shocks to our lives over the next few years. However, wise people recognize that nothing lasts forever. Smart observers recognize that the challenging changes that have swirled turbulently around the foundations of our world over the past ten years have consequences that will impact the quality of our lives in increasingly dramatic fashion.
One can ignore the distant sound of approaching boots and blindly await the cataclysm or one can make the effort to peer through a periscope and spot the threats. It is possible to analyze current events through the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom and emerge with, if not a prophetic sense of where things are headed, at least a good idea of what the short term future holds.
Some people condemn themselves to stumble through the dark forest at night snagged by branches and tripped by roots. Others wear night-vision goggles and cover the ground easily and safely. It is my goal in these few paragraphs, to equip you with night-vision goggles in the form of five permanent principles of the Bible. These will make sense of the treacherous landscape and help you to avoid the roots and branches awaiting the unwary.
Whether we examine the North African troubles or the bizarre pro-union farce in Wisconsin, the picture we obtain will be clearer with these tools.
Permanent Principle of the Bible # 1
People are not merely smart animals. We are an entirely different species, touched by the finger of God and possessing souls. This means that few lessons we learn from animals are applicable to people. For instance, if any animal is restricted to an adequately large area and provided with food, water and safety, it will never endeavor to go anywhere else. People, even if confined to a very large area in which they can obtain all their hearts desire, find that their souls chafe at the restrictions. We seek the infinite. While animals protect their territories, we humans feel the urge to seize the territories of others. In civilized circumstances we try to increase our holdings by purchase and trade. In less civilized circumstances we do so by war and plunder. Animals act on instinct and are incapable of evil and are incapable of choosing good over evil. People are capable of making moral choices and in many cases, will choose war and plunder. We do not need to prepare ourselves to cope with evil animals, a mere fence will keep the wolves from our sheep. But we very much need to prepare to deal with evil people or we shall not survive.
Those nations with a strong sense of their Biblical roots tend to build up their societies and allow their people to prosper in an environment of safety and security. Occasionally, straying from those roots, as Germany did when it temporarily turned to Hitler and his Nazi thugs, even western nations will pursue predatory policies but they seldom work for very long. The thousand year Reich failed to make it past the twenty year mark.
By contrast, nations based on organizational principles other than Judeo-Christian deny their people prosperity and security and tend to prey on their neighbors. Shaka, the late 18th century Zulu chief thought nothing of marching his warriors off a cliff to prove their loyalty and the eight year Iran-Iraq war in which both sides needlessly sacrificed millions of their population was no less insane by Judeo Christian standards.
Communism, the mirror image of Judeo Christian faith (See my Tower of Power-Decoding the Secrets of Babel), similarly denies its citizens the opportunity of improving their abilities to make a living while needlessly slaughtering them by the million as did Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong in China, and Pol Pot in Cambodia.
In general, those people who reject the Judeo-Christian model of human organization usually end up embracing its opposite, which is a materialistic vision of reality. In this vision, people are not united by the content of their characters and the devotion of their souls because people are merely smart animals. Just as animals are divided by shape and skin color, so are people, claims this mistaken model. In this age-old false vision of humanity, there must be strife between men and women, between black and white and between rich and poor.
The tendency of labor unions to form gangs by means of which others can be plundered is an expression of this principle as is the tendency among those who reject the Biblical blueprint, to regard labor unions as a sacred priestly class automatically cloaked with virtue.
Permanent Principle of the Bible # 2
There are two basic obstacles to any individual’s physical survival. (1) Extracting a living from an often reluctant earth using as little of our time and effort possible. (2) Preventing other stronger individuals or groups from attacking us and seizing our property and possibly also taking our lives.
The Judeo-Christian Biblical blueprint confers success upon its followers by solving these two problems. Firstly, it affirms the worthiness of work and the idea that we were placed into this Garden of Eden precisely in order to work it and become God’s partners in creation by transforming jungle into cities and fetid swamps into fertile fields.
It then implants in us the idea that God does not allow us individuals to take the property or lives of others and how borrowing is a bad idea even from future generations. It inculcates in us respect for women and the goodness of protecting and cherishing women. Finally, it teaches the importance of specialization to produce God’s desire of interdependence upon one another. (see my Prosperity Power—Connect for Succe$$) Not surprisingly, those cultures that founded themselves by following these precepts prospered in peace and tranquility.
As time went by, however, many blessed western countries first forgot then abandoned the very blueprint that brought them to affluence. Environmentalism with its pantheistic doctrines and worship of nature is one destructive aspect of the loss of Biblical vision. We are now watching the economic consequences of that rash rejection of their founding Biblical principles.
Permanent Principle of the Bible # 3
In isolation, individuals live short and painful lives. Only by organizing ourselves into families, communities, societies, and yes, nations, do we stand a chance of solving the two basic problems of survival.
Just imagine if you were the last person alive on the planet after some catastrophe wiped out everyone else. Your first sensation might be relief at being able to retain the remote control for the TV and being able to find a parking place downtown but you’d soon be brought up short. No electricity (nobody to operate the power plants), no television or radio programing, no restaurants, and eventually no more food in the now empty markets. Pretty soon, for transport in your search for food, you’d be reduced to riding whatever horse or donkey you could find and like a subsistence peasant in the most primitive third world neighborhood, you will have to plant something and hope it will grow to harvest before you starve to death. Our wealth IS other people, provided they also subscribe to a common system of values that allows us all to communicate, cooperate, and above all, trust one another. Without trust there is no credit and no transaction and without transaction, we are each on our own.
There are four basic patterns to human organization. (i) Leave all alone and live with chaos and civic anarchy. (ii) Centralized planning by a tyrannical regime. (iii) Tribal. (iv) Judeo Christian system of ancient Israel that created western civilization in general and the United States in particular.
The first is unendurable and the plight of those trapped in this environment is tragic. As for centralized planning, one would think that the twentieth century destroyed faith in this hopeless model but it lingers with almost religious fervor among America’s elite university faculties and Europe’s secular fundamentalists. The tribal model has demonstrated an inability to build even bicycles let alone computer chips and seems incapable of even seeing the benefit of water-borne sewage systems. The fourth system, God’s plan for human interaction, speaks for itself. With all the imperfections inevitable when mere humans try to implement a perfect system, it still remains the deep desire of most human beings and what they seek either by politics or emigration.
Permanent Principle of the Bible # 4
God created separate nations in the world instead of making all humans part of one big group. (see my The Gathering Storm-Decoding the Secrets of Noah) Several chapters of Genesis are devoted to showing how God’s plan was for each nation to experiment with its own ideas of how human cooperation should be structured. Israel alone was presented with God’s Biblical Blueprint and with it, the mission to share it with the world.
However, unlike some other faiths that also believe they possess the truth, Israel was never to use the sword to force others to accept its divine blueprint for human cooperation. The sword was unnecessary because it would quickly become obvious to all observers that God’s Biblical model produced a wealthier, a more tranquil and free society than all the other experiments out there. In their own interests, God hoped, everyone would adopt it willingly and peacefully.
By way of example, when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the cars they had been making, the GAZ Pobedas, the Volgas, and the ZIL limousines were roundly rejected by western car buyers. Those mediocre mechanical monstrosities were used in the Soviet Union because that is all there was. If you bought a car then, you bought a Soviet product at the point of a sword as it were. You had no choice. Western cars were far superior because makers enjoyed competition. Nobody was forced to buy a government-made product. People picked the very best cars they could afford and today, miraculously, most people in the west can afford a vehicle that will carry four passengers for fifty-thousand miles without any major mechanical work. Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, and even Cadillac do not have to force people at the point of a gun to purchase their vehicles. In their own self-interest, those who can willing and eagerly acquire those products ignoring the poor experiments in car design that governments sometimes try to foist upon a docile public.
Similarly, God set up a system wherein different people in their own groups could experiment all they wished. Meanwhile, Israel, and those who adopted the Biblical blueprint would build so vastly superior societies that others would flock to adopt the same system of organizing principles. Let competition of ideologies flourish and let people choose the right way. This was God’s design.
We in the United States are threatened by the growing numbers of our fellow citizens who regard themselves as citizens of the world rather than as citizens of the United States of America. Our lives are endangered by leaders willing to sacrifice our welfare for the good of the world. Gasoline prices surging to $5/gallon and more present a greater threat to hard-working American families than panic-inducing warnings of climate change. Weakening our defense capabilities in order to win the approval of those who hate us is sheer recklessness calculated to make the ghost of Neville Chamberlain smile. All these and more flow from the attempt to deny Permanent Principle of the Bible number four.
For reasons that lie outside the scope of this discussion, what we think of as western civilization grew from those societies which adopted Christianity which, in itself, was an adoption of Judaism, the faith of Israel. Not surprisingly, over 90% of the scientific discoveries and medical advances of the past eleven hundred years came out of Christendom, an old word for western civilization which I like. Not surprisingly, no capital market has ever emerged indigenously from a non-Christian country.
Sure enough, God’s prediction that others would spot the success of societies following the Biblical blueprint and emulate them has been partially fulfilled.
Many societies have adopted the outward trappings of the west. Today, both banks and bathrooms in Beijing, Bombay, and Bangkok, resemble those in Boston, Birmingham, and Berlin. However, in most cases they have neglected to adopt the Biblical underpinnings of morality and law that ultimately make possible those outward trappings. This throws their durability into doubt and suggests the imprudence of the west trying to salve its conscience by throwing large sums of foreign aid to so-called developing countries. The idea that raising taxes on Americans and sending loads of money to barbaric regions of the world will convert them into exotic versions of Highland Park, New Jersey or Encino, California is laughable.
Imagine a remote island whose primitive population spends most of its time robbing and raping, mugging and murdering. What do you think will bring about more change, parachuting in bags of cash along with officials of the World Bank or sending in one hundred Christian missionaries?
Yes, the Biblical model is verified by the immigration patterns of the last sixty years. The greatest and most rapid human migration in history has been from non-Christian-founded countries to Christendom, or the West. To put it perhaps a little too bluntly, neither Saudi Arabia nor Somalia has an illegal immigration problem. People vote with their feet for what works, and what works in terms of allowing people to make a living and stay reasonably safe and secure, is the Judeo-Christian based west.
The disturbing deceit inherent in the idea of multi-culturalism and its close cousins the communist dream of internationalism along with the left’s childlike faith in the impotent United Nations are all futile manifestations of the attempt to overturn this fourth Permanent Principle of the Bible.
Permanent Principle of the Bible # 5
Few more powerful motivators exist for human beings than a deep conviction in what their god wants from them. Part of America’s inability to deal effectively with Islamic terror stems from this fatal failing: Prior to 9-11, almost nobody in the American State Department had ever met a human being willing not only to die for his faith but also quite willing to kill for it.
Islam may not have a god that did much to help its devotees build attractive and successful societies but those devotees certainly are totally committed. Total commitment, even to something wrong, often trumps lukewarm commitment to truth.
Alcoholics anonymous works so well for so many people precisely because its founder, Bill Wilson recognized the need to include God when attempting major transformation. Not surprisingly, government anti-drug programs accomplish very little because they so meticulously banish God from the program.
Using these five Permanent Principles of the Bible, we can gain better insight into what is happening as countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and many others to follow, ignite into civic chaos.
Essentially, these cultures have enviously witnessed the wealth of the west since before the start of the twentieth century. They have lusted for the materialistic results of the Judeo-Christian system, but they have rejected the spiritual underpinnings that made it all possible.
Now, they mistakenly believe that all that stands between them and life as seen on American television are their corrupt governments and tyrannical leaders. When they discover that Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gadhafi’s successors are not able to deliver, we shall probably see even greater unrest.
The leaders that will emerge understand far better than their decadent western counterparts that people need a spiritual anchor as much as they need food on the table. They will encourage an ardent return to Islamic fundamentalism since the nature of Islam discourages dreams of democracy. They will continue constantly to deride the west and particularly America and Israel as the world’s sources for the appealing and attractive Judeo Christian Biblical model. By fostering in their populations frenzied fanatics and fierce fiends, they hope to retain power and protect their privileged lifestyles. Without American leadership that values our Judeo-Christian heritage and understands how its spiritual nourishment sustains our success, we face increasing travail.
With these permanent principles of the Bible, we can also understand the circuses in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Religious conservatives place principle above politics. This is why it was Republican legislators and officials who forced President Richard Nixon to resign and why it was Democrats who saved the presidency of Bill Clinton. If the Judeo-Christian vision fuels your life, then your politics must conform. Winning is not everything, God is. For the secular fundamentalists on the left, however, their political creed is their religion. Thus politics for them is a form of religious war—a crusade if you will. For this reason, legislators hiding away in remote corners are performing an act of brave and principled defiance. Winning is everything. That is their religious doctrine-they have no other.
The left has succeeded in dividing America into many separate groups or gangs. By annihilating our commonality and eroding love of our providential mission, it has set us all against one another. Those who do not want to throw more money at a failed educational system are child-haters. Those who want relief for American families groaning beneath the burden of confiscatory rates of taxation hate the poor. Those who want a spiritual cure for multi-generational family dysfunctionality are racists.
Today, American culture is cut by a canyon. It doesn’t separate whites from blacks; it doesn’t separate rich from poor; it doesn’t separate men from women. It divides those who regard Judeo Christian values as vital for our nation’s survival from those who consider the Biblical blueprint to be nothing more than a primitive obstruction to progress. And there are blacks and whites on both sides; there are rich and poor on both sides, and there are men and women on both sides.
There is hope for a brighter tomorrow but it utterly depends upon the twenty-percent of Americans (see my Thought Tools volume 2) who recognize how urgently we need a return to our founding principles. Only by a return to the Judeo-Christian values that have sustained Israel for three thousand years and that created the United States of America can we once again become one nation under God. We will become a nation capable of seeing the threats imperiling our survival and we will again be a nation capable of fearlessly facing our foes and defeating them. We will become a nation capable of recognizing the folly of living beyond our means and will have the fortitude to take the necessary steps to recover fiscal responsibility. In short, we will once again be the nation that successfully salvaged the world from the threat of a prolonged period of darkness and we will do so again.
© Rabbi Daniel Lapin