Paul Harvey was an American radio personality for ABC Radio Networks. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush in 2005. His speech, titled “If I Were the Devil” illustrates so much of what is happening today in America. Listen, or read the transcript below, and reflect on today’s society.
If I were the prince of darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness.
I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — thee.
So, I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.
I’d subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers.
With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.”
To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square.
And the old, I would teach to pray after me, “Our Father, which are in Washington …”
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 peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
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.
And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.
If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I’d tell teachers to let those students run wil. And before you knew it, you’d have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
With a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing and judges promoting pornography. Soon, I would evict God from the courthouse and the schoolhouse and them from the houses of Congress.
In his own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I’d lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.
If I were the devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.
What’ll you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?
I’d convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun and that what you see on television is the way to be.
And thus, I could undress you in public and lure you into bed with diseases for which there are no cures.
In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.
It is hard to argue the devil’s fingerprints in society. The deception described in Harvey’s speech is similar to the targeted attacks of disillusion described in C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters.
The Screwtape Letters contain thought provoking statements written from the perspective of the “Tempters.” Consider these statements from the novel;
Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts
I do not expect old heads on young shoulders.
Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.
The political commentator and the respected theologian draw the same conclusions about how our being tempted and deceived would be played out and used for our demise. Personally, we each have to make the decision for ourselves what we believe. Societally, we have to get back to the fundamental beliefs that made us strong.
I believe that this is part of America’s Prodigal Journey. Shall we return from this journey, I believe that we will be stronger than ever. If we let the media “fan the flames,” as Paul Harvey suggested, we will continue down the gradual road to hell written about by C.S. Lewis.