Many years ago, I attended West Forsyth High School near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Though our sports teams then were generally mediocre, at basketball and football games our cheerleaders would inevitably break into a chant: “WEST IS BEST! WEST IS BEST!”
That cheer came back to me while reading “The Decline and Fall of the Descendants of the Roman Empire.”
In this article, Vince Coyner gives a quick overview of some of the world’s great civilizations, including Rome. He notes that “Culture and civilization are fragile; they’re hard to build and harder to maintain.” He succinctly but accurately points out that a dry rot has spread throughout Western Civilization, created largely by those who “see the sins of their fathers and the imperfections of their society and believe that their tunnel vision means the West is nothing but evil.” He writes of the insanity of opening borders “to tens of millions of people who don’t share their culture and, indeed, most of whom come from nations hostile to Western values.” He takes a shot at “citizens who became fat, dumb, and happy during prosperous times.”
Even with these tribulations facing the West, Coyner points to the achievements of Western Civilization with three paragraphs showing us why “West is best.” He introduces these paragraphs by writing, “From the moment most of the people on the planet today wake up until the moment they lay their heads down at night, almost everything they do or interact with is a result of Western civilization.”
In these paragraphs Coyner performs an invaluable service by listing just some of the inventions, innovations, and scientific advances of the West. Among the inventions, he includes the steam engine, the internal combustion engine, antibiotics, nuclear power, and much more. Just a few of the innovations are individual freedom, advanced farming, social media, and limited government. For science, he notes that since 1901, 800 Nobel prizes have been awarded in fields like physics, math, and medicine. Of these prizes, 750 went to Westerners, “including 350 for the United States alone.”
The radicals of our time, the socialists and extreme progressives, show little gratitude for these revolutionary accomplishments. Like spoiled children, they speak and behave as if all these inventions and innovations simply popped up out of nowhere. The Antifa vandal who uses his cell phone to gather others for a protest, drives his car to the rally, and shouts obscenities through a megaphone is decked out with Western inventions. Even that radical’s right to protest is a product of the West.
Even worse in a way are those who blindly fail to appreciate the countless Western gifts to the human race, who take for granted their laptops and their liberties, the abundance of grocery stores and the circus of entertainments at their fingertips. What was once regarded as miraculous has become mundane.
It was not always so.
In the late 1980s, I talked with a 90-something neighbor, Sue Willard Lindsley, about life in our town of Waynesville, North Carolina, in her youth. Sue Willard was a genteel lady, soft-spoken, who told me about her father’s bookshop, the dances and parties that the town’s hotels of that day had featured, and the people she’d known then who were now long dead.
Only once in our conversation did the normally placid Sue Willard show an abundance of emotion. When I asked her about the biggest changes she’d seen on Pigeon Street, where we both lived, she nearly leaped out of her chair. “Indoor plumbing!” she cried. “You can’t imagine what that meant to me!”
Sue Willard’s gratitude for the comforts of a toilet and a bath with running water was more than evident in her voice.
Vince Coyner believes, and I agree, that Europe and the United States will self-destruct if their leaders and citizens continue to downplay or revile the West. After all, who would defend that which they either ignore or condemn? As Jordan Peterson wrote in 12 Rules for Life, “It took untold generations to get where you are. A little gratitude might be in order.”
Western culture has brought enormous blessings to humankind. It’s a civilization deserving of high praise and celebration, not the constant denigration delivered these days by its enemies. Let’s start taking pride in our American and Western past, honor those ancestors whose creativity and sacrifices brought us these material and spiritual riches, and give thanks for the bounties they bestowed on us.
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