Philosophy of the United States: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Philosophy of the United States: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Philosophy of the United States: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Philosophy of the United States: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Excerpt

The United States was shocked on September 11, 2001, when terrorists flew commercial airliners, filled with innocent passengers going about their business, into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. For most people it was an unexpected violation of the freedom and security they had grown to expect. It was an invasion of the world's sole superpower, aimed at the heart of its national symbols. How could this take place?

How could this take place? That was the question asked by Babylonians in 1158 B.C. when a massive invasion of Babylon by Elamite troops under the leadership of Shutruk-Nahhunte I destroyed the great Babylonian cities and plundered them, taking statues of the Babylonian gods and the stele with Hammurabi's Law Code. It was also the question asked by Romans when, in 410 A.D., Alaric, king of the Visigoths, marched into Rome with his Army and pillaged for three days, leaving behind a mass of corpses and ruins.

To many Romans, the otherworldliness of the Christian religion, which had become the official religion of the Empire, was to blame. When asked how he could still profess Christianity after the sack of Rome, Augustine, the influential Bishop of Hippo, replied unexpectedly that the pagan Romans had already preached the same virtues for which Christians were being blamed. It was not Christianity that brought ruin to the Empire, but vices within the Empire itself. Christianity, he argued, had two goals: to save human society and to build up a society that . . .

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