When I took typing classes in high school on an old IBM selectric typewriter almost four and a half decades ago, there was a sentence we learned to type over and over again in typing drills. The sentence is “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” The origin of the sentence goes back to the early 20th Century:
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party” is a phrase first proposed as a typing drill by instructor Charles E. Weller (1840-1925); its use is recounted in his book “The Early History of the Typewriter,” p. 21 (1918) Frank E. McGurrin, an expert on the early Remington typewriter, used it in demonstrating his touch typing abilities in January 1889. It has appeared in a number of typing books, often in the form, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” (Quote source here.)
In a blog post titled “Now Is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of Their Country,” published on October 16, 2012, by Elizabeth Westhoff, Director, Marketing and Mission Awareness, she gives a more detailed background on the sentence drilled into every typing student’s head at the time I was in high school; however, given her age (she was a child of the 1980’s) she states she never used it on a typewriter:
Given my age, I will admit it is surprising I’m aware of the titular phrase I’ve used for this blog entry. You see, the phrase, “Now Is the Time…” was once a typing drill taught by a teacher named Charles E. Weller (I really have no idea why I know the teacher’s name, but those who know me will vouch for the fact that I have millions of generally useless tidbits careening around in my brain.) Mr. Weller used that particular phrase because it exactly fills out a 70-space line if you put a period at the end. My use of the phrase is surprising though, because—I’ve never used a typewriter. I have no idea of the relevance of a 70-space line. I could no more set the tabs on a manual typewriter than rebuild a car engine, and yet, as an English major and communications professional, my entire academic and professional careers have both necessitated my ability to type—and to type well. The thing is, my parents taught me the phrase, “Now Is the Time…” as a kid and today as a 38-year-old woman, it sticks with me still. (Quote source here.)
Ms. Westhoff is now 42, and I’m old enough to be her mother; and I do remember why the line had 70 spaces, and I can reset the tabs on a manual typewriter; however, I cannot rebuild a car engine. I very much appreciated the fact that while she doesn’t know why she remembers Mr. Weller’s name, she wrote, “those who know me will vouch for the fact that I have millions of generally useless tidbits careening around in my brain.” So do I. Often folks who are not like she or myself often find those of us who are to be, well, sometimes annoying (I only wish I could say that particular trait was more endearing, and I suppose it could be to some people). However, back to the topic at hand.
Now is the time . . .
The last presidential debate is over (and we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief), and the presidential election here in America is now 19 days away. If there was ever a time . . . “Now is the time for all good men (well, people) to come to the aid of their country.” However, the country is so divided many folks are considering sitting this one out (which is not a good solution). Whichever side of the fence you’re on, don’t just sit on it. Do something (like vote, and if you are so inclined, pray).
My last blog post titled, “We All Do It,” started out with the following quote:
Like Dr. Cloud, we “religious types” often get pigeonholed into the category of “religious types” among people who don’t really know what it means, or assume they do know but don’t, or worse yet, they often don’t care to know. And with the rise of the “Nones“ (religiously unaffiliated–see article titled, “‘Nones’ on the Rise,” by Pew Research Center published October 9, 2012), it’s gotten worse. However, let’s start by defining normal:
Normal: (1) conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural; (2) serving to establish a standard. (Quote source here.)
Much of the division that is going on in America today has to do with labels we place on others who just don’t see things the way “we” do whether our disagreements are religious, political, racial, lifestyle related, or whatever. And now we have to define “we.” By now you can see the issue at hand. We are fragmenting and dividing our society more and more with each passing decade and every new generation.
The plaque at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty (dedicated on October 28, 1886) reads:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” These lines are from the poem “The New Colossus,” written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. (Quote source here.)
There is nothing religious, political, racial or lifestyle related in those words. So how did we get from there to here in a scant 130 years? In an article titled, “The Life Cycles of Empires: Lessons for America Today?” by Eric Snow, published on July 6, 2011 in “Beyond Today,” he writes:
The German philosopher Hegel (1770-1831) knew that just because men and women learned about the past, that didn’t mean they’d make better decisions about the future. He once cynically commented, “What experience and history teach us is this—that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”
For years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, America seemingly towered over the world as a great giant—economically, culturally and militarily. But now for nearly a decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, its armed services have clashed with the forces of Islamic extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world.
If that weren’t bad enough, the worldwide economic crisis has laid the country low with high unemployment, an immense federal government deficit, rising inflation and depressed home values. Other challenges loom ahead, flowing from the European Union’s growing political and economic integration, Russia’s increased strength and assertiveness, and China’s rapid economic, industrial and military growth.
Clearly America’s present lone-superpower status is being increasingly challenged. Could it be lost completely? While it clings to a general preeminence right now, could America still decline and fall?
Didn’t that happen to other great empires in the past, such as those of Britain, Spain, Rome, Persia, Babylon and Egypt? Is America’s future more secure than theirs was? (Quote source here.)
We fight among ourselves and disparage those we don’t understand without thinking twice about our role as a nation in human history. Farther down in the article Snow discusses the seven steps in the life cycles of great powers:
Seven steps in the life cycles of great powers
Glubb Pasha [Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb,1897-1986, who was a British soldier, scholar and author] learned that different empires had similar cultural changes while experiencing a life cycle in a series of stages that could overlap. He generalized about empires having seven stages of development, identifying these successive ages as follows:
1. The age of outburst (or pioneers).
2. The age of conquests.
3. The age of commerce.
4. The age of affluence.
5. The age of intellect.
6. The age of decadence.
7. The age of decline and collapse.
Each stage helps progression to the next as the values of the people change over time. Military, political, economic and religious developments all influence an empire’s people to act and believe differently over time. (Quote source here.)
“Each stage helps progression to the next as the values of the people change over time.” Notice that is it the values of the people that are the primary cause of the change. The past several decades here in America have seen the rise of affluence, intellect, and decadence. In his article, Snow states the following regarding the last stage (Stage 7):
Sowing the seeds of decline
During the age of intellect, schools may produce skeptical intellectuals who oppose the values and religious beliefs of their empires’ early leaders. . . .
Scholars also might manage schools that teach the ruling class and/or some of the average people subjects that are either mainly oriented towards financial success or are simply impractical. For example, in the early Roman Republic, students received a basic education that stressed character development and virtue. But in the later Roman Empire, teachers taught rhetoric (the art of speaking) when emotionally persuading assemblies was no longer of political or practical value.
The corrosive effects of material success encourage the upper class and the common people to discard the self-confident, self-disciplined values that helped to create the empire. Then the empire eventually collapses. Perhaps an outside power, such as the so-called barbarians in Rome’s case, wipes it out [see the eight reasons why Rome fell at this link]. Or maybe an energetic internal force, such as the pro-capitalist reformers in the Soviet Union, finishes the job instead [see “The Fall of the Soviet Union” in 1991 at this link].
The growth of wealth and comfort clearly can undermine the values of character, such as self-sacrifice and discipline, that led to a given empire’s creation. Then the empire so affected by moral decline grows weaker and more vulnerable to destruction by forces arising inside or outside of it. (Quote source here.)
Snow further comments on four key signs of decline noted by Glubb:
What are some key signs of decline?
What are some common features of an empire’s culture in its declining period? Glubb describes developments like these:
1. Rampant sexual immorality, an aversion to marriage in favor of “living together” and an increased divorce rate all combine to undermine family stability. This happened among the upper class in the late Roman Republic and early Empire. The first-century writer Seneca once complained about Roman upper-class women: “They divorce in order to re-marry. They marry in order to divorce.”
The birthrate declines, and abortion and infanticide both increase as family size is deliberately limited. The historian W.H. McNeill has referred to the “biological suicide of the Roman upper classes” as one reason for Rome’s decline. Homosexuality becomes publicly acceptable and spreads, as was the case among the ancient Greeks before Rome conquered them.
2. Many foreign immigrants settle in the empire’s capital and major cities. The mixture of ethnic groups in close proximity in these cosmopolitan places inevitably produces conflicts.
Because of their prominent locations within the empire, their influence greatly exceeds their percentage of the population. Here diversity plainly leads to divisiveness.
We see this today in the growing conflict in European countries such as France and the Netherlands, where large numbers of immigrants are stoking violent cultural clashes. German chancellor Angela Merkel recently made headlines when she stated that attempts to create a multicultural society had “utterly failed” and immigrants must do more to integrate into society.
3. Both irresponsible pleasure-seeking and pessimism increase among the people and their leaders. The spirit described in 1 Corinthians 15:32 spreads throughout society: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
As people cynically give up looking for solutions to the problems of life and society, they drop out of the system. They then turn to mindless entertainment, to luxuries and sexual activity, and to drugs or alcohol.
The astonishingly corrupt and lavish parties of the Roman Empire’s elite are a case in point. The Emperor Nero, for instance, would spend the modern equivalent of $500,000 for just the flowers at some banquets.
4. The government provides extensive welfare for the poor. In the case of the city of Rome, which had perhaps 1.2 million people around A.D. 170, government-provided “bread and circuses” (food and entertainment) helped to keep the masses content. About one half of its non-slave population was on the dole at least part of the year.
True, helping the poor shows Christian compassion (Mark 14:7). But such help also can lead to laziness and dependency (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). Such problems are especially likely when the poor believe state-provided charity is a permanent right or entitlement. (Quote source here.)
Sound familiar? We need to be reminded that who we are as people is just as important as who we elect for president. How are we living our lives, and what is it that we value?
First Peter 3:8-12 sums up how we should live as Christians. Let’s take a look at those verses:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
Throughout history nations have come and gone, but as Isaiah 40:8 reminds us . . .
The grass withers and the flowers fall . . .
But the word of our God . . .
Stands forever . . . .
YouTube Video: “Revolution” (1968) by The Beatles: