Adapted from a speech given at the Missouri TeenPact class, March 2006.
A few days ago, when we were all in the Capitol rotunda for the class photograph, I noticed a unique inscription carved on the Capitol wall. It stated simply, "Ideas Control the World."
I ignored the photographer for a moment to focus on the implications of that statement. Do ideas really control the world?
I have come to the conclusion that they do.
Thousands of years ago, God had the first idea. He imagined creating something in His own image, something that He could fellowship and commune with. Someone that would bring Him glory and enrich His life. So He created the first man, and the world has never been the same since.
Then man had an idea. Wouldn't it be a thrill to taste the forbidden fruit? To revel in the delicacies that God had banned?
Mankind acted on that urge, and the world was changed forever on that tragic day.
Not very long afterwards, another human being had another idea, an evil one. His brother had offended him, so what could prevent him from taking revenge?
He acted on that idea, and the first murder was committed.
What followed was a long cycle of hate, tyranny, self-will, and oppression. Most people lived for themselves, rejecting God.
Then God had another idea. Mankind had become corrupt and full of evil ideas, so why not rescue them from the terrible path they were on? Why not send Christ to enrich mankind with beautiful ideas and wash away the punishment they deserved for all the dreadful consequences of their terrible actions, fueled by rebellious ideas?
So God sent His son, the Messiah, who washed away the sins of the world and gave mankind an eternal opportunity for redemption.
And so the battle of ideas began again. A rift was formed between those with naturally evil ideas and those whose ideas had been transformed by the love of Christ.
Eventually the world sunk into a period known as the Dark Ages, a time when fresh ideas were stifled by the tyrannical web of illiteracy, confusion, and lies.
Finally, people began to have new ideas again. A man named Martin Luther dreamed of spiritual freedom and independence. Gutenberg had an idea that evolved into the printing press, which in turn produced books, especially the Bible, that refreshed the continent's ideas with hope and creativity. The Protestant Reformation was born.
Individuals like Bunyan, Milton, Knox, Michelangelo, and many others were full of fresh ideas that inspired others. The citizenry wrote and read books, traveled, and made new scientific discoveries.
In France, however, the citizenry was dancing to a different drumbeat. The humanistic ideas of the so-called Enlightenment, led by men like Rousseau and Voltaire, rebelled against traditional moral values,replacing them with permissive policies that encouraged civil anarchy and the bloody revolution that ultimately followed. The world watched and wondered.
Meanwhile, the egalitarian ideas of a few pioneers produced America, a land of ideas and thoughts that would become a blessing to civilization in the years to come.
And now here we are, young and bursting with optimism in a land of nearly limitless possibilities and colossal potential. We are bombarded daily with ideas that have enormous potenial for both good and evil.
Here in our time, we have seen the effects of ideas with our own eyes. The ideas of individuals like Hitler and Stalin cost millions of people their lives and denied liberty to even more. Dangerous ideas are eroding personal responsibility and Biblical morality in our country today. The ideas of moral relativism are indoctrinating society with an apathy that will be its downfall if left unchecked.
Ideas can kill and paralyze. They have the potential to bring horrible destruction. Yet at the same time, ideas can invigorate and heal. They can bless many, freeing millions from oppression and despair.
Today we stand at a crossroads. We are future leaders in the culture war, and the ideas we endorse will change the course of society and shape our worldview. They will control the world.
The ideas and philosophies we choose to live by will shape our every moment, for better or for worse. Be careful how you utilize them, because ideas control the world!