The Magazine

Athens and Jerusalem

On the need for courage.

Mar 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 26 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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By the end of the 1980s, it seemed Solzhenitsyn had been too pessimistic. In an impressive showing of moral courage and civic strength, the societies of the West confronted in that decade the threats of decadence at home and weakness abroad. Leaders like Reagan and Thatcher, John Paul II and Lech Walesa discovered reservoirs of moral virtue in their publics and rallied them to action.

The threats of 2010 are as great as those of 1980. They are intellectually different, of course—and perhaps even more complicated. But, like the threats of the Cold War, they cannot be overcome if we lack the simple and often prosaic virtue of courage. Can we, in our clever and sophisticated time, once again summon up this old-fashioned virtue? 

—William Kristol


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