Tired of ads?
Join today and never see them again.
Advertisement - Guide continues below
What's super interesting about Ronnie's discussion on the legacy of evil is it almost becomes a character in and of itself. He says that when evil doesn't succeed, it takes a time out and comes up with a new game plan to attack in a different way. Practice makes perfect, after all.
Let's be clear: our ancestors weren't always the good guys, but we learned from our mistakes and Ronnie believed America and her traditions were the future. It becomes our job to help other people learn from the past to create lasting peace. And Reagan says in "The Evil Empire" that the best way to do that was to pray for change, and then act on it.
By using this speech to label it as an "evil empire," President Reagan contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union and changed the world.
Reagan suggests that change always comes from within, which is ignoring large swathes of history in which change came from without.
Here's the thing about sin: everybody does it. In "The Evil Empire," President Reagan was super honest about America's sins—and about the lessons we learned from them.
Humans aren't perfect (except for Emma Watson, probably), but Ronnie's says that doesn't matter if we learn from our mistakes, and try to prevent similar injustices in the future. He believed, along with many other westerners, that communism was evil, a sin, and it was the responsibility of those in the know to try and fix it.
Ronald Reagan believed the most dangerous part of the Soviet Union was its atheistic ideologies.
The sins in America's history are absolved because the nation has taken time to acknowledge them, and make amends.
It sounds super cliché, but at a basic level, people totally viewed the issues between the U.S. and the Soviet Union as the age-old battle between good and evil. The Soviets didn't believe in freedom of the press, or freedom of speech, or freedom of religion—any of those things sound familiar?
Think about all we had to do to get those basic human rights, and it makes sense why Americans wanted to go all Avada Kedavra on the type of government that had the cojones to oppress their people. President Reagan, as a devout Catholic and the leader of the free world, felt he wouldn't be doing his job if he chose not to stand up and speak out against the evil happening in the Evil Empire—er, Soviet Union.
Reagan's Evil Empire speech was motivated not so much by his duty as president of the United States as by his personal and spiritual motivations.
One of the duties of the president of the United States is to model and encourage what is understood to be "good" behavior.
Bon Jovi said it best—at the end of the day, we're all just livin' on a prayer.
President Reagan definitely believed in the power of prayer. He talks about it a lot throughout "The Evil Empire," emphasizing that many American traditions and ideologies are rooted in religion, including the belief that all people should live and practice their chosen faith freely.
Religion has always been part of American tradition, and the principles of justice, love, acceptance, and goodness have roots in the religion. Reagan believes those things are key to solving problems with aggressive totalitarian governments, and the American spirit will overcome the bad guys who refuse to acknowledge the consequences of their actions.
Ronald Reagan believes a nation without religion cannot truly be good and just.
The power of prayer, and of American morals, is not enough to fix the problems with the Soviet Union if its people don't want to work for change.
What exactly is communism?
Think back to kindergarten, when you were required to share your toys with everybody—even that one girl, Alexis, who "borrowed" your red crayon and broke it. (We're still mad at Alexis.)
It all comes down to equality, which is essentially the foundation of communism: everything is shared equally, and the government owns and controls almost everything. Which, if you think about the American economic system (competition), you can see why there were some basic philosophical disagreements.
In "The Evil Empire," Ronnie's saying we need to put an end to the evil that is communism, to stop oppressive governments from breaking the red crayons of their people. What's important, though, is he didn't focus on how perfect America was—he opened the Burn Book and was really honest about our history to prove we could learn from our past and make things better for everyone.
The biggest ideological difference between communism and American democracy comes down to the interpretation of what it means to be equal.
Thomas Paine said, "We have it within our power to begin the world over again." In his speech, Reagan says the only way to change the world is to practice American ideologies everywhere.