More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his Templeton Address.
As I consider the decline and failure of institutions with which I am associated, large and small, Solzhenitsyn's analysis of the Russian disaster applies to all of them.
For example, yesterday Juan and I attended a very important hearing together, and this morning we reviewed what happened. We noted that that the hearing proceeded well from the standpoint of the behavior of both the judge and the other lawyers, even though we did not get all we wanted. That discussion moved on to discussions of other cases, other judges, and other lawyers, where we were not able to say that the professionals acted with integrity. As to the lawyers whom we discussed in those other matters, the question, unfortunately, was simply truth telling. I believe that the issue of one telling the truth under stress depends in the main on a lively sense of a sovereign God. Truth telling, truth finding, is at the heart of the matter where justice is concerned. ("Ah," as Pilate said, acting in a supreme judicial capacity, "what is truth?" No wonder in that case we had the outcome that followed the Roman's rhetorical question.)