SYMPTOMS OF NATIONAL DECADENCE IN THIS HOUR OF DELIBERATIONS

The diliberations ended. The verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was multiple counts of guilty. Good. And there was no added destruction. Good. But there remains the lingering sense that we live now cowed by mob rule; that the mob will attenuated its grievances and its demands and play out its hand endlessly — in hapless Minneapolis and across the nation.

I feel the need, on this Florida morning of rumbling thunder, lightening and gray light, to speak of how these past months of violence and insipient Marxist-style terror and political rage and lies may well have signaled more than the beginning of the end of our nation — our lapse, by slow decades and degrees, into division and decadence, while a complicit media covers for the destroyers.

The simplest, most imprecise definition of decadence is “moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury.”

But that calls for a great deal more refinement and explication. Troubling symptoms of decline in our nation — like those that beset Rome in its final century — go well beyond “excessive indulgence in pleasure and luxury” — at least in my inexpert observation. I’m just one American, looking around me, and within me.

Decadence can touch individuals AND the masses and multiple institutions, be they of human or divine origin, slowly and simultaneously. Allow me to quote the Catholic historian James Hitchcock, writing circa 1980, about “The Problem of Decadence in the Catholic Church,” to name just one “institution”:

Decadence in a culture can be defined as the loss of self-generated energy and interiorized purpose, a condition which inevitably results in confusion , ennui, the rapid erosion or even reversal of established taboos, and bizarre relationships between the individual and the traditions which have nourished him.

Ponder that. Look about you in America and see if this shoe fits.

I myself shall spend this day pondering the matter, in distress — as we wait to see the flames inevitably rise up again in our nation, and the likes of Maxine Waters rear their heads once again, filled with a kind of perverse, anarchic energy now common among so many in power while others, their seemingly powerful counterparts, stand powerless — indeed seem to have lost that “self-generated energy” that could save us. I feel that loss within myself, and fight against it.

Representative Waters and her ilk will continue to have their media apologists. (Yeats comes to mind again, as he has so often for me during this past year: “the best lack all conviction, while the worse are full of passionate intensity.”)

Those jurors in Minneapolis may well have been the bravest, most self-sacrificing souls in our nation at this hour. But was their verdict in any way conditioned upon a desire to be spared the fate of one trial witness — to have pig blood spattered all over their doorway? They might not have known of that specific incident, but likely were aware of the turmoil and menace hanging in the Minneapolis air like a thin, poisonous miasma. They were not, prior to their deliberations, sequestered.

For now, I don’t need to know of their state of mind. I know only that I’m glad for that conviction, but fully expect, as the trial judge has already predicted, that the public blather of Representative Waters and others will provide a basis for appeal that likely would not have existed had she kept her mouth shut. And that means the George Floyd case will not be put to rest. This, I’m sure, is the desire of the activists. I can’t blame them for that. This seems the realpolitik reality of the present moment. It shall be exploited.

The trial judge warned us, indirectly. But the ultimate judge will be history. God help us.

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