John Stonestreet on The Best Analysis on the Trump-Biden Presidential Debate Was Given 42 Years Ago: God Help Us

President Donald Trump responds to Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

There are no highlights from Tuesday night’s presidential debate. There are, however, plenty of “lowlights”: name-calling, untruths, anger, vitriol, interruption. It was a debacle on every level.

During the debate, my friend Trevin Wax tweeted, “Neil. Postman. He saw this coming forty years ago,” referring to how the author of Amusing Ourselves to Death, who described what happens in societies when societies entertainment replaces truth and celebrity-ism replaces virtue.

In addition to Postman, a speech called “A World Split Apart,” given at the Harvard University commencement on June 8, 1978, by Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn has proven to be the best decoder of our cultural moment. Today, we live downstream from, in the wake of, what Solzhenitsyn attempted to describe to his booing audience.

For example, Solzhenitsyn described how the West had replaced the pursuit of happiness by virtue with a pursuit of happiness by stuff:

“Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness … however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to obtain them imprint many Western faces with worry and even depression … The majority of people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about; it has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals, leading them to physical splendor, happiness, possession of material goods, money and leisure, to an almost unlimited freedom of enjoyment. So who should now renounce all this, why and for what should one risk one’s precious life in defense of common values?”

When the pursuit of virtue is undone by materialism, words are redefined. Specifically, Solzhenitsyn suggested, freedom:

“Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the … misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept … Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil … [was] born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet