When C.S. Lewis was a boy, his mother died. “With my mother’s death,” he wrote, “all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of Joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.”
It may seem melodramatic, but that passage comes to mind when I think of the death of America’s relationship with Europe, and Donald Trump’s betrayal Monday of the democratic values that were the basis for that relationship.
Europe is America’s mother continent. Our foundational institutions were inherited from Europe. Our democracy is Greek and British. Our universities are German. The etiquette book George Washington read to improve himself was translated from French, and so were Thomas Jefferson’s ideals.
Europe represented a path to progress; America saw itself embracing that path and surpassing it. After the revolution, as the historian Joseph Ellis has written, Americans were sure a new generation of Shakespeares, Dantes and Ciceros would arise on North American soil.
David Brooks goes on to say the damage is irreparable. I find that unbelievable. David Brooks, get a grip. Most Americans want to stay in NATO, just like most Britains probably now want to stay in the European Union. Russia isn’t really a big enemy. Overpopulation and climate change are much bigger threats to our way of life, and democracy. As your fan, I wish you had written this despair piece after Trump is reelected. I plan to work hard to see that that doesn’t happen. And I loved your opening statement in your essay.