“He who becomes wedded to the spirit of the times will find himself a widower in the next generation.”
One of my favorite professors at Baylor University was Dr. Robert Reid in the History Department. Dr. Reid made world history come alive through his incredible storytelling and pithy anecdotes. He was connected to the glitterati of the 1960s and 1970s through his nephew Van Cliburn, the famous pianist and winner of the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition held in Moscow in 1958 during the height of the Cold War. Dr. Reid’s courses were in high demand, and he always captivated his classes with historical tales which were always for a purpose. One of his sayings has always stuck with me: “He who becomes wedded to the spirit of the times will find himself a widower in the next generation.” World history is chocked full of examples.
Dr. Reid applied this “spirit of the times” statement to eternal truth from which there is no variance. I have been able to validate that saying many times since I first heard him say it 45 years ago. Most recently it has resonated with me in the context of ever-increasing demand to legalize marijuana for not only medical use but also for recreational use. The state of Illinois is one of the latest governments to jump on this bandwagon in an effort to shore up their dreadful finances and satisfy an ever-demanding base of voter support. The media coverage was nonstop for several days beginning on New Year’s Day. There in all the media was the Illinois Lieutenant Governor being first in line to purchase some edibles on January 1, 2020. Others were camped out all night for the opportunity to purchase weed at the state-licensed stores.
What are the long-term repercussions of governments endorsing this type of drug use, and is it an effective remedy for the financial woes that have been used to rationalize this change in policy? The short answer is we don’t know, but given the history of these types of issues, probably not good. There are some insights to be gained by looking at other states that have not only decriminalized marijuana but endorsed its use. Colorado is one such example.
My brother, Ron Bruce, is a retired sheriff in Hinsdale County, Colorado, stepping down a year ago after a tenure of 12 years, which was preceded by a career in the Arizona Highway Patrol. He has had a front-row seat on this casting off constraints. What was supposed to be a win-win for the government and society has turned to a lose-lose. Homelessness, the increased healthcare burden born by the public, the lawlessness, has far outweighed the revenue produced. And then there are the financial intangibles, the moral effect on the society. But is this a surprise? In his book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah, Robert Bork details the degradation of our culture by modern liberalism, the root of which is the swapping of the religious and moral fiber of a Judeo-Christian worldview for that of Nihilism and radical egalitarianism. The marijuana issue is just the issue du jour, “the current spirit of the times”. Bork notes that our society has been ‘lobotomized’ by TV, and I would add, social media, as well as the internet.
It seems that the entirety of Democratic President contenders are more than eager to not just join but are enthusiastic promoters of “spirit of the times” issues.
So, what happens when there is a realization of the emptiness of the marijuana promise? What do “widowers of the next generation” have once the emptiness and destructiveness of this policy become manifest? One would hope the response would be repentance and a return to the constraint of eternal truth and to moral (Judeo-Christian) renewal. However, as with many of the other “spirit of the times” issues, there seems likely to be a denial of the facts, a denial of the reality that joy in one’s existence is not the same as transient pleasure. Such issues that have created “widowers of the next generation” would include free sex (which led to wholesale abortion and STDs), welfare for anyone that wants it (which leads to dependency), free condoms (which actually increases both pregnancy and STDs), needle exchanges (which enables more and more drug usage, homelessness, and the emergence of third world diseases), having unrestricted and unregulated illegal immigration (which leads to real national security issues); on and on it goes…
What a dramatic difference in the current Democratic Presidential candidate field compared to the challenge that John F. Kennedy put to the nation in his Presidential inaugural speech: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” The Democratic Party’s mantra today is effectively, “Ask not what you can do for your country; ask or demand what your country can do for you.”
Instead of moral and spiritual renewal and a humble return to the Judeo-Christian cultural foundation of our country, we are witnessing a toxic mix of hatred toward President Trump and shameless pandering to a culture spinning toward “widowhood” in our lust for legalized vice. Freedom without constraints is actual bondage. Indeed, he who becomes wedded to the spirit of the times will find himself a widower in the next generation.
Dr. Mark Bruce is an emergency room physician and the Ambassador to Belize and Canada for the American College of Emergency Physicians. His most recent book is ‘Jackie, a Boy and a Dog: A Warm Cold War Story’, about how First Lady Jackie Kennedy gave him a puppy when his dog died.