June 21, 2009

Solidarity...

From a column by George Weigel that seems to fit today's events:

...What can we learn from the Nine Days, [The visit of Pope John Paul II to Poland, June 2-10, 1979] three decades later? Several important things, I'd suggest.

The first thing the Nine Days and the subsequent Solidarity revolution teach us is that history doesn't work through politics and economics alone. The power of the human spirit can ignite world-historical change.

The second lesson from the Nine Days is that tradition can be as powerful a force for dramatic social and political change as a revolutionary rupture with the past. "Revolution," in the Solidarity experience, meant the recovery of lost values and cultural truths and their creative re-application to new situations. Tradition, according to an old theological maxim, is the living faith of the dead—a lively faith that can move history forward rather than dragging it backwards.

The third thing we ought to learn from the Nine Days and what followed in Poland is that moral conviction can be the lever once sought by Archimedes—the lever with which to move the world. There is nothing more potent in history, for good or ill, than ideas. The history of the 20th century prior to 1979 had been unspeakably bloody because of the power of false ideas and lies. The Solidarity revolution proved that the opposite could also be true, with its insistence on truth-telling amidst the communist culture of prevarication (or, as one famous slogan of the day had it, "For Poland to be Poland, 2+2 must always = 4").

The fourth thing we learn from the Nine Days and the moral revolution they ignited is that "public life" and "politics," "civil society" and "politics" are not the same. Rather, the health of politics depends on the moral health of civil society.

And the fifth thing we learn about from the Nine Days of John Paul II is what the Pope later came to call "the subjectivity of society." Free associations of men and women who are citizens, not subjects, are where democrats are made, for it's in those free associations that we learn the habits of heart and mind that make it possible for us to be self-governing....
Posted by John Weidner at June 21, 2009 4:44 AM
Weblog by John Weidner