‘It Can’t Happen Here!’
You hear a lot of people in America say that when stories about the decline of Western Society in Europe are mentioned.
Believing that America is so unique is wrong and ultimately contributes to our own Society’s decline.
Yes, America the idea, it’s Constitution, it’s attitude are exceptional, but we must never forget that it is populated by Human Beings and we are like all Human Beings across the breath and depth of the Earth: we are fallen creatures. So, despite our unique attitude, our unique approach to Life, we are still
susceptible to the Human failings, which means we can end-up making the same mistakes as the Europeans.
It is true that our exceptionality will shield us longer from the rot that has metastasized to every corner of Europe, but, eventually, the shield will shatter into a thousand pieces under the strain, especially because we have not performed routine maintenance on it, so busy are we being Willfully Blind and losing ourselves in our decadent frivolities and Soul-deadening luxuries.
The United States Of America was exceptional, but it’s people were always just Human.
While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence.
But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion.
Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
—John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade
of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts,
11 October 1798