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LEARNING: History & Education | Bastille Day, 1989




An Unpublished Letter to Los Angeles Times

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Though it was one of the most powerful nations on Earth, their proud country's standing among the fraternity of nations was sinking. Though they tried their best to ignore it, their years of having fought costly wars and arming themselves to the teeth were slowly but surely leading them into bankruptcy.

Inefficiency and corruption were increasingly the rule, not the exception. There were two systems of justice: Draconian for the powerless, moot for the powerful.

The extravagances of the few came at the expense of the stagnation and downright poverty of the many, for whom the necessities of life -- food, shelter, and health care of sufficient quantity and quality -- were becoming luxuries.

Insidiously, in spite of their hard work and entrepreneurial risks, many in the middle class found themselves losing ground: They feared, for good reason, that their children would not be as well off as they were.

Pleas for compassion -- not only from the desperate poor but also from the disillusioned middle class and even some of the wisest and most humane of the rich or powerful -- were met with indifference, platitudes, or downright contempt by all too many of the leaders of their country. Dissent was all too often considered unpatriotic at best, blasphemous at worst. Somehow the God most of them worshiped, who Himself had walked upon the Earth as but a humble peasant, was supposed to have ordained this sordid social order.

And what was the result of this intolerable situation? That remains to be seen. I pray we learn from the history of The French Revolution and are not doomed to repeat it.

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