"The average age of the world 's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency;
From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage. "
The origin of this quotation is not known. It has been attributed to various sources, and may even be a combination of two separate quotations from difference sources. In spite of its dubious origin, it has been quoted by Ronald Reagan (3/5/64), Senator Strom Thurmond (1/9/65), P.J. O'Rourke in his 1991 book, Parliament of Whores, and many others. Whatever its source, the quotation now serves as a warning of the pitfalls that may befall any civilization.
The Founding Fathers had foreseen and warned of these dangers long ago:
"A lady asked Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin, 'Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy ' -- 'A republic, ' replied the Doctor, 'if you can keep it. ' " --from Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787
"Hold on my friends to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world. " --Daniel Webster
"But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever " -- John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1775
"Yes we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path to destruction. " --Thomas Jefferson
Now, two hundred and thirty years later, the Founding Father 's worst fears are coming true; and how have the American people responded? A character, Alan Shore, on the ABC television show, Boston Legal (3/14/06) described it perfectly:
"When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out to be not true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't.
Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.
Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorists suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.
And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't. In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial - or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.
...The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest. ...At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you are wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed.
...And what I'm most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled unAmerican. "