"I'm Old Enough to Remember 1968..."
By Capt. David C. Iglesias - Director, Wheaton Center for Faith, Politics & Economics
I am old enough to remember 1968. I recall with clarity watching the evening news with my father as chaos unfolded across the world. On this side of the Atlantic, we saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, dozens of American cities burning in civil unrest and the brutality of the Chicago Police during the Democratic convention. In Europe and Asia, we witnessed the bloody Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the Soviet suppression of the Czechs during the “Prague Spring” and the Hong Kong Flu pandemic that killed up to four million people globally. 1968 was a terrifying year.
Which brings me to 2020. I want to encourage those who don’t remember 1968 — we will get through this year. This country has survived worse: a Civil War that killed more than 600,000 Americans, WW-I, the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and the global fight against German fascism and Japanese imperialism during WW-II.
Our markets remain strong and by the time this newsletter goes to print, a vaccine may be available for COVID-19. We Americans are descended from the most resilient of Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Some of our ancestors came voluntarily, others were forced to come in chains. Some fled religious persecution, some like my great-grandfather left Germany for economic reasons, others brutally conquered Indigenous Americans and enslaved Africans to build empires. Yet, out of that violent morass of “human unkind” to paraphrase poet e.e. cummins, we were able to hew out a living and breathing Constitution and a country that is truly, as Abraham Lincoln famously put it, “the last great hope of earth.”
2020 will be a seminal year in the history of America. We are caught between Scylla and Charybdis. In the face of this challenge, this newsletter explores difficult issues of the proper role of government. Former FPE Director Dr. Seth Norton writes of the benefit of limited government to human flourishing. Dr. Enoch Hill’s article, “Relief Packages and the Use of Knowledge in Society during COVID” explores two theories of why it might be net beneficial to implement a relief package at this juncture. See also our summary of my podcast interview with Wheaton Trustee and Northern Trust CEO Shundrawn Thomas, who discussed his experiences being racially profiled. On a much lighter note, FPE is announcing the re-inauguration of the International Study Program. God willing, I will be leading a group of Wheaton students to the four Nordic Countries next June to meet economic and political leaders. This will mark the 50th anniversary of Wheaton students studying political economy internationally and I am honored to lead it.
How does faith impact the current year? Our faith in a living Christ should be the very heart of our response to the current turmoil. The early church lived under the boot of the vicious Roman Empire and yet Scripture exhorted Christians to love one another and obey the government. One has only to look at Romans 13:1-7 and I Peter 2:13-14 to see we serve a God of order, not chaos. In this full contact national election season we must be mindful that we Christ followers serve the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and that if politics get in the way, they must yield to the Prince of Peace.