A FB "friend" has declared his disillusionment with America and is upset to realize he is not patriotic. One of his FB friends (not mine) suggested his patriotism would be rekindled by reading a biography of the rabble-rouser Sam Adams. Alas, probably not. I don't think any life of Sam Adams would change anyone's mind about what is happening here and now. He lived in a different world, and, I am sorry to say, he was eager to get the colonies into a war with a far more benign government than we have had since the election of Dishonest Abe.
I am hearing the voice of despair ever more frequently in increasingly plangent tones. An actual friend of mine has been filling Facebook with his complaints against everything that has gone wrong since 1965. I tell him and everyone else, "Nil desperandum" and "aequam memento rebus in arduis"--Latin comes naturally when you are seeking self-control and sweet reason--but to no avail.
As Christians, we know that Paul instructed us to respect and fear and obey constituted authority. It is often said that he would have changed his mind after the persecutions began. Nonsense. That is a terrible way of misreading Scripture and untrue to an Apostle who was well aware of Pilate's complicity in the execution of Christ. I say complicity because he was bullied into it by others. But Paul did say the ruler's sword--that is the Roman legal and military system--was a terror to the guilty and not to the innocent. That is certainly not true today, when the government not only protects criminals, abortionists, and self-made freaks but subsidizes them.
The country is lost and the civilization is dead, but Christians and moral non-believers still have to accept the obligation to do no harm and to uphold what decent order there is. I would discourage young men from signing up for a military that is engaged in anti-Christian genocide in many countries, but I should also discourage any movement in the direction of contempt for order and authority. Stay out of trouble, fly under the radar, do what good you can for yourself, your own, your friends. America is like Italy and France after the barbarian occupation. Our barbarians in the ruling class are more like Huns and Mongols than like Franks, Goths, and Lombards, but it is not as if this has been a free country at any point in my lifetime.
The reason so many people are falling into despair is that they have accepted the fatuous optimism of American exceptionalism. Once you get over the pernicious nonsense of "the city on a hill," you can get down to the practical business of muddling through a darkness that descended before WW I. The second conservative delusion is their myth of how the decent and stable society of the 1950's has been destroyed by 60's radicals.
The 1950's were, comparatively speaking, a good time, if we are limiting ourselves to the basics--higher public standards of civility, safety, and decency. If we look closer, Eisenhower's America was largely a Potemkin village constructed by the same sorts of people who are now busily tearing it down--Henry Luce, Walt Disney, the leaders of both parties. Even judged as a misconceived attempt at restoration, the 1950's was insubstantial. The movement for equal civil rights, which had been conducted with dignity and a respect for law and order, turned to open rebellion under the corrupt and violent leadership of a pro-Communist philanderer who was above all criticism.
The revolutionary episode of the 1920's had been put on hold by the Depression and the War, and after the War, people wanted to get back to living, but private morality was only somewhat higher. The divorce revolution had been in place for several generations, pop music was mostly sexy schmaltz, Playboy was launched in 1953, and there was an atmosphere of stifling conventionality that could only encourage the little rebellions symbolized by the Beats and Rock music. Elvis cut his first records in 1953 and "Heartbreak Hotel" hit number one in 1955. Mailer's The Naked and the Dead was a big seller in 1948; On the Road was published in 1957. Rebel Without a Cause came out in 1955.
I have no animus against James Dean or Elvis, and can find good things to say about Kerouac but it was culturally vastly inferior to the period what Auden had called a "low dishonest decade." Was Elvis really much worse than Perry Como or Vic Damone? Was Kerouac a less interesting writer than Frank Yerby or John Hersey? The 60's were forged in the 1950's, and the failure to understand that very simple fact explains as much as anything does, the unbelievable and inexcusable stupidity of American conservatism.