Last month, the Wall Street Journal published a letter to the editor from a Mr. Anthony Crebbin to which we responded with a letter to the editor that they did not publish, shame on them. Evidently the editors of the venerable financial newspaper remain unaware of the gems of wisdom that we impart so freely are worthy of publication at all times. Hence our publication of the gist of the letter today on this blog.
Mr. Crebbin claimed that humanity has not advanced morally in the last two millennia (“Little Moral Progress in 2,000 Years,” WSJ, 09/09/14, A16). He based this on the fact that people continue to lie, cheat, steal, and so on, just as they have from the dawn of time.
The problem with Crebbin’s claim, however, was the standard he used. Are we, as he did, to measure the morality of society by the actions of criminals?
How, then, are we to view the billions who are not criminals?
The fact is, we have advanced remarkably in the last 2,000 years. The United States, as originally conceived, and excepting the horror of chattel slavery, is itself the best example of this. Francesco Cardinal Satolli (1839-1910), first Papal Legate to the United States, declared that the U.S. Constitution and the Gospels constitute “the Magna Chartas of humanity.”
Crebbin is, of course, entitled to his opinion, but he would have done better to advocate a return to the vision of America’s founders, and organize with others to restore a system that, as George Mason put it in the first draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, recognizes, protects, and maintains the fact that “all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”