American Matters Education Matters

By James Middlebrook

In a speech last week delivered in Poland, President Donald Trump memorably remarked, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.” This really is the fundamental question of our time. Western Civilization increasingly comes under physical and intellectual attack from across the globe, and even internally. The West faces danger from Asia, to eastern Europe, to the Middle East, to Africa, and it truly must decide if it has the will to stand up for its values and territory.

First, we must define the West.

The West is characterized by great civilizations with roots in the schools of thought of ancient Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem. It blossomed in the Enlightenment, and is now characterized by liberal democracy, rule of law, and human rights.  Since the end of the Cold War, the West has maintained a world order that has seen the expansion of human rights and liberal democratic values across the globe. President Trump’s admiration for the West and its values should not be controversial, it should be celebrated.

As a millennial, I wonder, how did the West evolve to the point where we have to question if we have the will to survive? Three generations ago, men and women fought to preserve Western civilization against the authoritarian conquests of the Nazis, Fascist Italians, and Imperial Japanese. I believe it’s because the latest generations have forgotten the sacrifice and don’t understand the tragedy of what a world without Western leadership would be like. I don’t see a problem with proclaiming our values superior to oppressive regimes, like we see in many countries throughout the world. We should be proud of the  civilization we have built and the protections we give  citizens of our society. People use the freedoms granted to us by Western values to demonize the West. People use their freedom of speech, through a free and open forum online, to degrade the civilization protecting that ability. It doesn’t make sense.

The West is worth fighting for, our grandparents knew that, and we must hope we don’t need to be reminded of that by a third world war. We should appreciate the sacrifice of previous generations and take up the baton to preserve the West. President Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. ” As millennials, we must continue on this fight for Western values, Western leadership, and Western preservation.