“Listen, are we helpless?” – An excerpt from “A Canticle for Leibowitz”

Published in 1959, A Canticle for Leibowitz is the story of post-apocalyptic society being reborn by the research and dedication of The Church.  In the third “act”, man has again built nuclear weapons and is on the brink of another apocalypse when the following passage takes place.

“Listen, are we helpless?  Are we doomed to do it again and again and again?  Have we no choice but to play the Phoenix, in an unending sequence of rise and fall?  Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Carthage, Rome, the Empire of Charlemagne and the Turk.  Ground to dust and plowed with it.  Spain, France, Britain, America-burned into the oblivion of the centuries.  And again and again and again.”

Are we helpless to stop repeating history?  I don’t think so. We may be apathetic enough to let history repeat itself, but we’re not helpless.  Certainly, when one looks at our society’s moral decline, our vanity and false pride, the sense of entitlement our youth now have, and the growing dependency on our government that’s run by disingenuous, hypocritical career politicians, it’s really more of a question of how long until America is “burned into the oblivion of the centuries.”  As an American, though, I have to have hope that we’ll somehow pull our collective head out of our ass and fix things.



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