A question more fundamental than whether the West has the will to survive is: What is the West?

In his rousing speech to a roaring crowd in Warsaw, scheduled – not accidentally – the day before a meeting with Vladimir Putin, President Trump exalted the values held by both America and Poland, including allegedly free speech, the rule of law, the empowerment of women, honoring family, faith in God and an affinity for weapons made by Raytheon.

“And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves,” said the president.

In the spirit of better knowing myself, I have to ask, first, how is it that an Eastern European country like Poland is the West?

And if the West is so good, why does Earth rotate eastward? The sun sets in the west. How is it we measure time when Earth rotates counterclockwise? As the world spins, Lord knows whether the West is getting ahead or falling behind.

Maybe “the West” is a synonym President Trump uses for the Christian God, but then again Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a city in the Middle East, albeit on the West Bank. Visiting the Messiah on Epiphany were three wise men from the East, from where the Dalai Lama also hails.

President Trump reminded us Thursday of the Poles’ struggle to keep their Christian faith despite communist pressure, their famous chant to mark the welcome of Pope John Paul II and his own skill at deal making.

“And when the day came on June 2, 1979, and 1 million Poles gathered around Victory Square for their very first Mass with their Polish pope, that day, every communist in Warsaw must have known that their oppressive system would soon come crashing down,” said Trump. “They must have known it at the exact moment during Pope John Paul II’s sermon when a million Polish men, women and children suddenly raised their voices in a single prayer. A million Polish people did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, 1 million Poles sang three simple words: ‘We want God.’ ”

God and weapons. To win its epic battle with the East, Poland West will be armed with weapons made by an American company from the East Coast. Is it a coincidence that an arms deal preceded Trump’s speech to crowds bussed in from the hinterlands?

“That is why we applaud Poland for its decision to move forward this week on acquiring from the United States the battle-tested Patriot air and missile defense system – the best anywhere in the world.”

Is the Islamic State the East? Or is it North Korea? When Sarah Palin sees Russia from her house in Alaska, she is looking west. It’s complicated!

Not to worry, says President Trump. “Our adversaries, however, are doomed because we will never forget who we are.”

OK, but how would we know if we forgot who we are? It’s enough to make your head spin.

Copernicus is from Poland. He’s the guy famous for discovering heliocentrism, the scientific principle that Earth revolves around the sun. Before that, people believed everything spun around Earth. First lady Melania Trump, in her introduction of the president in Warsaw, said, “I had the opportunity to visit the Copernicus Science Center today, and found it not only informative but thoughtful, its mission, which is to inspire people to observe, experiment, ask questions and seek answers.”

So here’s a couple more questions. Was it before or after the Polish people chanted, “We want God” that they got free college?

Was it God or the Solidarity labor movement that led to universal health care and state-funded disability, unemployment and retirement benefits in Poland?

Is it the shared embrace of God, family and country that binds the present-day U.S. with Poland, or is it the rise of anti-immigrant, populist right-wing rulers reining in the judiciary, weakening democratic institutions and cracking down on the media that makes us and them the West?

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and a former state senator. She can be contacted at:

dillesquire@gmail.com

Twitter: @dillesquire