I have been astonished and saddened by the level of unadulterated vitriol and hate that is being spewed group against group in our country. As I have watched the decline of civil society over the past several decades, I have been increasingly concerned about a coming civil war.
No, I’m not referring to another North against South, nor do I believe it will necessarily end up as a conventional conflict. I am more concerned with clashes between races, religious groups and political ideologies. I am concerned that warfare might be gang and gorilla style, with riots, murders, rapes, theft and the like. More than physical bombs, I have been concerned about the destruction of personal economies, freedom of speech and the inviolability of our personal thoughts and moral convictions.
I am concerned that violent elements are seizing ownership of the debate and that the peace-loving are becoming increasingly silent. I am concerned that those who would subjugate those they disagree with are more skilled in the art of cultural warfare and more emboldened to win the day. I am concerned that when the losers do choose to fight, they often choose meaningless battles with little or nothing to be gained from victory. Those who would oppress are creative at launching emotionally-charged sociological salvos that fire-up the uninformed and distract from the far more destructive nuclear devices they are planting under our very noses.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said,
History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid
I believe that there are at least five types of people among those on the losing side of the culture war:
There are many who fear the repercussions of the violent. They do not speak up for fear of being misunderstood or worse. The violent have done a very effective job of making average people fear social pressure, disgrace, lawsuits, fines or even imprisonment. To those who fear such things, do you believe your silence will make things better? Do you believe this is all going to go away, or do you believe it will only get worse in your silence. It is better to make your choice now rather than have it made for you. Either capitulate and become a supporter of the violent, or take a stand. The days of hiding are near an end.
Avoiders will avoid conflict at all costs. They go along to get along. What everyone else wants is fine with them. To these I would remind them of Patrick Henry,
Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God.
Some see themselves as being discreet by not engaging the conversation. It is not that they are necessarily afraid, they just don’t want to make waves. They believe that peace can always be found if you are simply treat others the way you would have them treat you. While this is a wonderful principle in most of life, it should never be applied in the face of tyrannical oppressors. Bullies will always be bullies until they are confronted. Let us not be like Neville Chamberlain who thought peace with Hitler possible just before the bombs came raining down.
Ranters are those who are quick to defend their rights, but seldom take time to consider sound strategy. They rant and rave; they post inflammatory rhetoric; they re-post everything that catches their fancy. They are unfocused and undisciplined and rarely consider how their five-second action may affect the overall war. They are like the guy in the fox-hole who gets tired of being shot at, so he jumps up and runs screaming toward the enemy. Not only does he get cut-down in the process, he often encourages others to follow suit in some mistaken belief that it is heroic. Furthermore, he reduces the overall chances of success by removing himself and his followers from a consistent and focused strategy. Ranters have much needed energy. To these, I would encourage discipline.
Lifers are in it for the long-haul. They realize that a loss today does not mean the war is over. They are not looking for an easy or temporary win. Lifers realize that those who love liberty must always be vigilant and are eager to volunteer to be a watchman on the wall. Lifers understand that sound analysis and strategy are necessary for victory. They observe and learn the tactics of the enemy and devise effective counter-measures.
Of one thing I am certain. Our strategies, while often noble, have been ineffective in staving the rising tide of the violent. We must cultivate and develop leaders that are ready to make a life-long mission of regaining the liberties we have lost and retaking precious moral ground. The cost is too high if we lose. If not for us, then for our children. We can only do this together. In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin,
We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.