I got an e-mail today from National Review magazine (a promotional one, I'm sure) with a letter from John Bolton about the danger from ISIS. The subject line read, "Our role in the civilizational crisis."
But one of the ways we know we are in a civilizational crisis is that we don't know the civilizational crisis we're in—as evidenced by Bolton's letter.
ISIS is not the cause of our civilizational crisis. In fact our civilizational crisis is not external at all, but internal. The threat of ISIS is insignificant compared to the threat constituted by many of the people who point to ISIS as our problem.
The biggest threat to our civilization is that, while we bemoan the threats to it, we ourselves have abandoned it.
George Steiner called it "planned amnesia." It is the process we have been engaged in over the last 100 years of failing to pass on the ideals and values of our culture to the next generation. We have counted on our schools to do it, but not only has it become evident that they are not doing it, it has become very clear that they are undermining it altogether. And it is a testimony to how effectively they have done it that we don't even realize how effective they have been.
One would think conservatives would realize this, but they have submitted to the public school-administered cultural lobotomies as quietly as have the liberals they claim to oppose. They talk about how little our children know, but they don't know themselves exactly what it is our children should know.
The great cultural catastrophe of our time is almost entirely self-inflicted. It is our own disregard of the importance of the Western civilization and the Christianity that undergirds it and our neglect in teaching it to our own children. It is the greatest achievement of world history and it is dying (to use T. S. Eliot's words) with a whimper.
We'll enjoy the benefits of it for another generation or two if we're lucky. And then—like all civilizations that abandon the heritage from which they were formed and are sustained—we'll go the same way as the Babylonians, and Egyptians, and Greeks, and Romans.
Some day another civilization will be founded on the ashes of this one. They'll eventually sort through the debris and they'll marvel at the lack of insight we had about what our problem really was. They'll have to conclude that any people as short-sighted as we are to our own condition and as blind to the solution staring them in the face deserved what they got.
Have a nice day.