by Tyler O’Neil
Even after the lights went out at the Super Bowl, a commercial stole the show. In a few short minutes, Ram took the hearts of spectators by featuring Paul Harvey’s “God made a farmer.” Soon, both #PaulHarvey and #GodMadeAFarmer were trending on twitter, with thousands of people taking their admiration to social media.
Praise for Harvey comes from unlikely places. It was my liberal grandfather, Tyler Kaus, who listened to Paul Harvey and told me I should look into Hillsdale College. Having grown there – in ways that I could never have grown anywhere else – I must admit my deep debt to the radio commentator who preceded Rush Limbaugh.
The Super Bowl Harvey clip remembered the farmers “willing to get up before dawn, milk the cows, work all day in the field, milk the cows again, eat supper then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” This work ethic made America great, and Paul Harvey had the voice to articulate it.
But let us not turn out the lights on “the rest of the story.” Another of Harvey’s great moments sheds light on the Newtown tragedy, which inspired deep soul-searching on both the Right and the Left.
Representative John Campbell (R., C.A.) joined the debate in his blog post entitled “Violence.” He asked why our culture has become more violent, and came to the conclusion that there isn’t “any one cause.”
“I think this behavioral shift is a result of an interconnected web of conditions in society that have changed, and are still changing, how we view the world around us and how we react to it,” he wrote. He pointed to six conditions: the focus on “me,” a decrease in taking responsibility, a growing secularism, the weakness of the family, a focus on success at all costs, and violence.
Before dismissing Campbell as a reactionary, trying to bring back the dark days of Throne and Altar, let us listen again to Paul Harvey – that muse of the American spirit – whose voice unites us in admiring the dirty hands of a farmer.
If I were the devil…If I were the Prince of Darkness, I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of its real estate, and four-fifths of its population, but I wouldn’t be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree – Thee.
I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’
And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d pedal narcotics to whom I could.
If I were the devil I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed.
I’d have judges promoting pornography – soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science.
If I were the devil I’d take from those who have, and give to those wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.
I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on TV is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure.”
In other words, if I were the devil I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing. Paul Harvey, good day.
Harvey shows the root of Campbell’s fears, and it’s not a pretty place.
If we listen to Harvey on farmers, we should also listen when he explains the reason behind tragedies like Newtown.
Cultural change begins with you. As Theodore Roosevelt was famous for saying, “the buck stops here.” Every person you snub, every car you cut off, every indulgence you take, just think of Paul Harvey. Think of the farmer. Think of the devil.
Which are you? Now you know “the rest of the story.”