As a conservative, it’s easy to see how our society has drifted away from its social and moral moorings.
The liberals respond to lure of the injustice du jour that must have a response. They fix their eye on the end results: how they want society to look and function. Then they invoke practicality: how to get there? In their morality, unanchored by accountability to anything other than the vision, the means used to achieve the ends are always justified.
Those means can be cruel, unjust, one-sided. By their nature, the means seek to disenfranchise those who stand in opposition to the vision they pursue. Identify, separate, divide, silence, conquer. These are the tools of those whose ends justify the means.
We are seeing these tools at work in our society. The damage is apparent.
Erick Erickson wrote:
The left in the United States increasingly refuses even to consider other arguments. Children must be taught only the left’s arguments. Scholars and pundits must only share the left’s views. Any other views must be marginalized, silenced, or punished. Those who hold unpopular views must be shunned, fired, or re-educated.
Evil in the world has always behaved thusly — it preaches tolerance until it is dominant. Then it seeks to silence good. The left should be wary that its behavior in civil society increasingly mirrors this historic pattern.
This begs the question: what to do? How do conservatives respond?
Several options present themselves, but I believe the answer is nothing short of a social revolution. Not a violent one, certainly not an overthrow of our institutions of power (government). Conservatives need to hearken back to the reality of who we are, and what we stand for. Ronald Reagan’s words echo:
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.
A social revolution based on a vision of a God-blessed shining city upon a hill must be built on devotion to God, country, and freedom.
We get so caught up in politics, numbers, news cycles, and elections that we lose sight of the vision. Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution said:
It’s like they say in the military: Amateurs talk strategy, the professionals talk logistics.
While it’s good to know the logistics are being worked, it’s very easy for conservatives to fall into the trap of justifying the means by the ends. Very easy.
I am reminded again and again by wise counsel not to let the caustic nature of politics get into my spirit. I’ve worked several political campaigns, and experienced both small wins and big losses. I can tell you it gets caustic. For every political logistical situation, there must be twice the time spent in devotional and prayer.
There is only one rule that will govern how conservatives reach the vision of the shining city upon a hill:
The means are everything.
In the words of French commentator Georges Bernanos:
The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means
There is in fact no way to achieve the conservative vision if the means are not everything. The liberal vision does not include “people of all kinds living in harmony and peace,” it envisions people they agree with living in one constant battle against those who don’t agree. Their vision fails because it requires an enemy to function. When one enemy is eliminated, another is found, until it’s brother against brother (think Orwell’s Big Brother).
What means do we use to bring about social revolution? Love and fortitude.
Love and fortitude: love for God, for family, for freedom, and the fortitude to stand without compromise for our beliefs. Oh yes, we will be accused, fired, persecuted, jailed, railroaded, denigrated, humiliated, and marginalized. But we will not be silenced if we stand in love and fortitude.
If you don’t get the point of this message, I suggest that you might not be a conservative.
This country is damaged but not beyond repair. The foundation is moved but not collapsed. Don’t leave all the work to the professionals. A revolution needs hands and minds engaged. Sitting back and reading a blog doesn’t cut it.
Do more. Pray. Contribute dollars to good candidates. Contribute time. Help with the logistics.
The liberals are out there using any means at their disposal to achieve their vision. Our means are so much more powerful because they are based on a God-blessed vision. But we have to work for them, stand for them, and, like our forefathers, pledge our sacred honor to them.
I know we don’t talk like that anymore. Maybe we should.