Lessons From History
In 1903 Henning Webb Prentis, Jr., A.B., Phi Beta Kappa and Trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was First Vice President of the Armstrong Cork Company, Lancaster. In a speech entitled "Industrial Management in a Republic" delivered in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria at New York during the 250th meeting of the National Conference Board on March 18, 1943, Prentis had this to say:
"Paradoxically enough, the release of initiative and enterprise made possible by popular self-government ultimately generates disintegrating forces from within. Again and again after freedom has brought opportunity and some degree of plenty, the competent become selfish, luxury-loving and complacent, the incompetent and the unfortunate grow envious and covetous, and all three groups turn aside from the hard road of freedom to worship the Golden Calf of economic security."
The Fatal Sequence Of Nations
Prentis goes on to say, "The historical cycle seems to be:
- From Bondage to spiritual faith
- From Spiritual Faith to courage
- From Courage to liberty
- From Liberty to abundance
- From Abundance to selfishness
- From Selfishness to apathy
- From Apathy to dependency
- From Dependency back to Bondage once more
At the stage between apathy and dependency, men always turn in fear to economic and political panaceas. New conditions, it is claimed, require new remedies. Under such circumstances, the competent citizen is certainly not a fool if he insists upon using the compass of history when forced to sail uncharted seas. Usually so-called new remedies are not new at all. Compulsory planned economy, for example, was tried by the Chinese some three millenniums ago, and by the Romans in the early centuries of the Christian era. It was applied in Germany, Italy and Russia long before the present war broke out. Yet it is being seriously advocated today as a solution of our economic problems in the United States. Its proponents confidently assert that government can successfully plan and control all major business activity in the nation, and still not interfere with our political freedom and our hard-won civil and religious liberties. The lessons of history all point in exactly the reverse direction."
Nothing New Under The Sun
In Ecclesiastes 1:9, King Solomon said "there is nothing new under the sun." As I look at Black America and consider the percentage of Black children growing up in fatherless homes, the number of Black men in jail or prison, the percentage of Black babies born to unwed mothers, the number of Black babies aborted annually, the percentage of new AIDS cases in the Black community and the number of Black men that are neither working nor in school, I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Prentis was prophetic and if we as a people have moved from bondage to spiritual faith to bondage all over again.
Brothers, we really need to talk.
1. Henning Webb Prentis, Jr., in a speech entitled "Industrial Management in a Republic," delivered on Thursday, March 18th, 1943, (http://bit.ly/1NlRmW7 or http://bit.ly/1HAE1sD).