When Things Seem At Their Worst

by Robert Arvay

Picture yourself as an informed citizen in the year 1938.

Every day you read of some new success by the German and Japanese
imperialists, some new horror emanating out of Stalinist Russia, a new
conquest by fascist Italy, and the increasing powers of a Chinese dictator.

The future seems grim, almost hopeless. Making matters worse, a
complacent American public is either ill-informed or unrealistically secure
in the belief that it can stay out of “foreign entanglements.”

As the Japanese violate every international treaty by annexing Manchuria
through subterfuge and brutality, by walking out of the League of Nations,
the world stands by, wringing its hands, but unwilling to meet force with
force. Vainly, we hope that matters can be resolved peacefully.

As the Germans forcefully annex the Rhineland, and, as Britain and France
submissively sacrifice Czechoslovakia to a mad dictator, the prime minister
waves aloft a scrap of paper bearing Hitler’s signature and happily
proclaims that this means “peace in our time.”

Day after day, the march of boots crushes the hopes of yet another small group of valiant people, and each day those who remain, yet untrampled, hope the fool’s hope – that the tyrant will be satisfied, that he will kill no more.

The next day yet another band of people are crushed – either imprisoned or massacred, to satisfy the never-ending gluttony for power by the madmen who know no mercy, and recognize no limits of cruelty.

To such a citizen in 1938, there seems little hope. The memory of a recent
world war haunts him, with its millions of deaths; a generation of young men slaughtered in the trenches, and millions more deformed as amputees and as gasping victims of poison gas… and the machines of war have grown only more terrible than before.

Yet, however fearsome the thought of war, even more terrible is the prospect
of slavery beneath the whip of barbaric savages who regard other people as
less than human.

Finally war does erupt, first against the Germans as they invade Poland, and
then later against Japan when it bombs Pearl Harbor. Millions will die in
this war also – some twenty million in Russia alone. More than three hundred
US soldiers will die in combat – nearly a third of a million dead
men from the farms and cities of America.

In the end, the dictators are defeated, and democracy survives. It is not a clean victory. Josef Stalin continues as dictator, murdering thousands more, and threatening the world with nuclear holocaust. A new Chinese dictator emerges, similarly casting a pall of dread over a world that yearns for peace.

Today, we face a new threat, the specter of suicidal fanatics willing to kill any number of people, including their own, in order to achieve the mad dream of a world in which women are property, and in which no one dares utter a word of dissent against those in power.

Once again, the prospect of war seems distasteful. However, this time, America
responded, and is meeting force with force.

Despite all that, the enemy seems firmly entrenched, while other storm
clouds gather in the straits of Taiwan, in the oil fields of Venezuela, in
the sands of Israel, and even in our own streets.

The early going in World War II was a string of defeats for the allies. The fall of the Benelux countries, the defeat of France, the bombing of London, the death marches of Bataan and Corregidor, the loss of Wake Island, and the humiliation of the US army at Kasserine Pass, all seemed to presage a defeat of democracy, and the final descent of darkness upon a world that had fleetingly known freedom.

Today, we too find the going tough. Now, as then, we hear the forecasts of doom and gloom, and find ourselves confronted by those who snipe at our heels as we carry forward the struggle.

None of us can predict the final outcome. Nevertheless, we can be sure that God has a plan, and that if we give it our all, the world may continue to be illuminated by freedom.


So it is that in our war against the terrorists, we are likely to suffer many setbacks, and even some defeats along the way. But we have been down that road before, and triumphed.  Faith and perseverance, along with the grace of God, saw us through.


But our struggle for freedom is not only on the foreign battlefield. It is also here at home. You may not wield a rifle, nor sharpen a bayonet, on the domestic front line. But you do wield the vote. It is the instrument, not of destruction, but of building up where our misguided opponents would destroy.


The election of 2008 was a sort of Pearl Harbor for the cause of freedom. Since then, we have seen our share of disastrous policies, just as in 1942 when we suffered defeat after defeat overseas.


But 2010 can be the turnaround, the beginning of a great awakening, and the clear signal to those who value more government over more freedom, that in the end, free men and women will always prevail.

One thought on “When Things Seem At Their Worst

  1. Mr. Arvay, I wish that I had read this entry much sooner. Like many other conservatives, I have sometimes felt that all hope is lost. Thank you for reminding us that our ancestors of the last century must have often felt the same way, but they persevered. We shall too.

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