Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fulbright

I don't care so much about the gist of this article from American Prospect - a call for McCain and Hagel to take up the Fulbright mantle - as I do this quote from Sen. J. William Fulbright. Take a look. Has it been better said in recent years?
Forty years ago this week, Senator J. William Fulbright delivered a speech at Johns Hopkins University on “the arrogance of power.” Talk about a time bomb.

“The question I find intriguing is whether a nation so extraordinarily endowed as the United States can overcome that arrogance of power which has afflicted, weakened, and, in some cases, destroyed great nations in the past,” Fulbright said. “Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations -- to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.”

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

We also have a debased religion now entering the public realm that believes that wealth is a sign of God's favor.

CKR

helmut said...

That's actually a pretty old idea in American culture. The first immigrants to North America believed the same - that material well-being in a difficult environment was a sign of God's blessing that they were doing good work. This idea has remained in American culture - in both materialism and the characterization of the human relationship with the supernatural.

Look at how much of American culture is based on the supernatural being connected to material wealth. We can even see the lottery in these terms. The odds of winning are ridiculous, but there's often a sense that the divine is somehow involved. Winning is not radical chance, but divine sanction.

Murky Thoughts said...

God doesn't play lotto.

helmut said...

But doesn't God at least assign the winners? I thought my flagellating was going to get me a lotto win one of these days....

Atlantiker said...

I forgot about the anniversary of this speech.
Unfortunately I can't find the entire speech on the net

helmut said...

Here it is:
http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst203/documents/fulbright.html