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The War In Defense of the Human Spirit

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis /
March 18, 2003

During the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, Communism was a more serious threat to our way of life than most Americans could have conceived of. Any evidence of Stalin's atrocities which managed at that time to become public was mostly ignored for political and ideological reasons. And what reached the international community about Mao Tse Tung's regime tended, conveniently, to gloss over the fact that Mao was in the process of systematically murdering and starving more than 60 million of his countrymen.

Even the expansion of Communist imperialism into Korea and Vietnam, while it was met with concerted U.S. military resistance, seems -- in light of what we can now confirm about the scope of the horror perpetrated by the Russian and Chinese Communist regimes and the deadly earnest with which they pursued their goal of bringing the world under Communist rule -- never to have been fully recognized by the American people for the danger it posed.

Looking back we can see that, in the political sense, it was not a done deal that the United States and its capitalist economic system and its championing of human rights and religious freedom would prevail. Yet there is another sense in which we should have known that we would prevail, and that is the spiritual sense. For Communism, no matter what its apologists might assert, is an economic and political system that denies and suppresses the human spirit in the most heinous ways.

There are striking parallels between the situation at the middle of the last century, when the Cold-War buildup of nuclear capabilities had brought us to the brink of global conflict, and the situation we face today in the war against terror. Back then, we could have understood that the United States, because it was the bastion of the freedom of the human spirit, would not go down to defeat at the hands of the murderous and godless forces of Communism, precisely because the human spirit is indomitable. In the same way, and for exactly the same reason, we can now understand that Islamic terrorists will not prevail.

It is now (as it was then) in the United States and other western democracies that the human spirit is given free reign to express itself. This means no less than that the United States is the refuge and the champion of the manifestation of the spirit of God through human activity. And it is the manifestation in our lives of the spirit of God that enables us to realize what it means to be truly human. Put another way, it is through the consciousness of the Divine that is the source of our impulses to creativity and love and mercy and caring that we realize our humanity.

The denial and suppression of the human spirit is the currency of the murderous dictatorial Communist and Fundamentalist Islamic regimes of the 20th and 21st centuries, including those of Stalinist Russia, China under Mao Tse Tung, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Cuba under Fidel Castro, Afghanistan under the Taliban, North Korea under Kim Il Song and Kim Jong Il, and Iran under the Ayatollah Khomenei and his successors. It is precisely this aspect of human existence, the realization through human enterprise of the Infinite that resides in all of us, which the United States represents. And it is because the extinction of the spiritual center of our beings, of the very thing that defines us as human, is unthinkable that we will triumph in the war against terror.

While the war against terror is in one important sense a political war to liberate people from the yoke of tyranny, I am nonetheless certain that our President and his advisors understand, as every American should, that it is much more than that. It is much more than simply a defense of the material benefits of being Americans and being able to pursue goals which enrich us and our families and which make our lives wonderful. It is much more even than the freeing of subjugated peoples to do the same.

More important than these is the defense of our spiritual foundation. The war against terror is a war in defense of the implicit understanding that the human spirit is indomitable, even if the forces of evil attempt — and sometimes appear to succeed in — the suppression of that spirit. The human spirit, the spark of the Creator on Earth, will not be extinguished. For that to happen is not only unthinkable, it is impossible.

Faith is an act of will, and our will must be underwritten by the knowledge that in us resides the responsibility for defending the human spirit in this time of crisis. We must go forward with the certainty that the extinction of the spirit of God which is embodied in each of us will never happen. Knowing this, we can face the forces which would eradicate that spirit and know that we will prevail.

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