Later that day, standing before the Prime Minister’s house at 10 Downing Street in London, Neville Chamberlain read the agreement and made a short remark in a speech that would go down in history. Here is what Chamberlain said on that day:
(reading from the paper) We, the German Fuhrer and Chancellor and the British Prime Minister have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe. (looking up at the assembled crowd) My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.
The rest, as they say, is ruins and carnage.
Yesterday I read an interview of former president Jimmy Carter with a German magazine, and then I caught myself thinking about it again today during my daughter's soccer practice. Between reading a thick biography of Joseph Stalin, sitting on a lawn chair on the grass in the breezy shade, stretching out, moving in and out between sleep, and watching soccer drills, the whole problem with our former president fleshed itself out behind my eyelids. In this interview with Spiegel, the German magazine, President Carter took advantage of the low favorability ratings of President Bush to rip him to the foreign media. My memory of Mr. Carter is a high school one. But that prep school memory is not a good one. I never felt more unsafe than when he was president. I felt the most threatened in my entire lifetime. His presidency was one misstep and blunder after another. And yet he was the great negotiator, Mr. Camp David, and anyone can see what good it's done. Of course, his one term in office was marked especially by the hostage crisis in Iran, which went on and on until Ronald Reagan became president and the hostages were freed. President Carter could negotiate the shirt right off his own back. But this is what he said to Spiegel:
The fundamentalists believe they have a unique relationship with God, and that they and their ideas are God's ideas and God's premises on the particular issue. Therefore, by definition since they are speaking for God anyone who disagrees with them is inherently wrong. And the next step is: Those who disagree with them are inherently inferior, and in extreme cases -- as is the case with some fundamentalists around the world -- it makes your opponents sub-humans, so that their lives are not significant. Another thing is that a fundamentalist can't bring himself or herself to negotiate with people who disagree with them because the negotiating process itself is an indication of implied equality.
What is the problem that manifested itself on the practice soccer field? He doesn't recognize the sin nature in man. That was the downfall with Mr. Chamberlain and it is the ignorance of Mr. Carter. Jimmy Carter goes into every negotiation thinking his enemies are inherently good. On the other hand, these fundamentalists he talks about---he would probably categorize me as one and he means it, of course, in a derogatory fashion---do see the enemies, their foes as not able to tell the truth. They have some discernment Mr. Carter missed with his liberal theology about the nature of man. Men are sinners. They are depraved. Without regeneration, they can't get it done. Jimmy Carter thinks they can all pull themselves up by the bootstraps and get something talked out. They don't understand talk. They don't understand anything except the end of a rifle barrel or the under side of a bomber.
All men were created equal, but all cultures are not equal. The ones who have been blessed from reading and listening to the Word of God have something greater about them. They are superior. They are not really inherently better than other people, but they are better because of the impact that the Bible has had on their minds and hearts. You can negotiate and negotiate with other societies who do not respect God's Word and you can't count on them negotiating in good faith. They don't have the capacity. Until Mr. Carter and others of his ilk, like a Mr. Chamberlain, for instance, come to some kind realization of this truth, that all men are sinners by nature, they will keep blundering and bumbling along history's path, ruining many, many things for everyone else with their good intentions.
Now go home and get a nice quiet sleep.