Friday, June 18, 2010

Victory

This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. --Winston Churchill
Yesterday a Facebook friend of mine was off on a really good rant against the government. He lives near New Orleans, so perhaps he can be forgiven his comparisons of politicians to prostitutes: it's pretty frustrating to watch your governor, Bobby Jindal, try to protect your state from incoming oil only to be thwarted at just about every turn by the Obama Administration and their bouquet of red tape. He wasn't ranting against Democrats specifically, however. It was an all-purpose, they're-all-worthless-I-want-them-out-of-my-life rant.

I sure know what that feels like. I cannot think of a single government interaction in my life in which I do not come out of it in worse shape than I was before the whole thing started. And the government, like an insatiable beast, wants more and more of my life and will soon, if something isn't done to stop it, insinuate itself into the relationship I have with my doctor, right up to and including the way my life comes to an end. We are seeing right now the competence of the federal behemoth when it comes to "helping" a governor save his state and we want MORE government in our lives? Are we insane???

Well...some of us are, I guess. Obama's approval ratings have been falling but they are still more than respectable. That fact alone simply blows my mind. Try as I might, I cannot wrap my mind around the idea that anyone can approve of what this man is doing.

When I was young, my grandmother (who lived with us) would listen to talk radio all day long. I hated it because the callers were almost always achingly stupid. It troubled me to know that I lived in a world surrounded by such stupid people. I knew that everyone wasn't like that but that there were enough stupid folks to call into these talk shows all day long every day. I was only a child, but I knew stupid when I heard it. And it depressed and frightened me. The election of Alvin Greene as the Democratic candidate for Senate in South Carolina shows that stupid is alive and well in the American electorate.

When it comes to politics, many people tend to be sports fans. This is not a good thing.

I am a rabid baseball fan. A Yankee fan, more specifically. When a call goes against the team, when a player makes a boneheaded play, I rant. I want people incarcerated, I want bones broken, I want rules changed. But this is only in the heat of the moment. By the next day, I'm rational again. Too many people approach politics with an attitude of "it's how I feel so it must be right." Lives are changed--radically--by the way we vote and way too many people vote based on their hearts and not their heads.

A couple of days ago I was asking about the position of a candidate on same-sex marriage. One of the responses to my question was, "Marriage should be a church thing and have nothing to do with government. It's just how I feel." Think about this. An institution that has existed in one form and one form only for thousands of years should be changed because, "It's just how I feel."

It's enough to give a conservative facial tics. One of the smartest things I've ever read was by G. K. Chesterton. He wrote this:

"In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away.' To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 'If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'"

Before we change an institution that is under assault but which has stood as the bedrock of civilization since the dawn of time, perhaps we should consider what unexpected consequences may result from that change.

But I'm getting off topic. My point, I guess, is that all of us get frustrated, some of us almost incapacitatingly so. I understand this because it happens to me, especially lately. I look at what Obama is doing, abetted by Pelosi and Reid, and I am horrified but see no way out. Where would I go? Moving to Australia seems the only even remotely possible alternative, but that's more than a little extreme. And so I rant and rave and fantasize about finding an island where I can hide and be safe from the Democrats who want to raise the cost of my health care, my gasoline, my electric bills, my taxes, everything. (Really everything, once cap-and-trade passes or the EPA gets down to business regulating CO2 emissions.)

Here's the thing, though. It's okay to rant and rave, but get up in the morning ready to fight. Learn things. You cannot be an expert on constitutional law AND foreign policy AND health care issues AND immigration policy AND nuclear policy AND energy policy AND all the rest, but you can learn a little bit about all of these things and more. And you can know where to go to find reliable information about each topic if you need it. And while you are at it, learn about God, too. Every day learn something. I tell my students to set weekly goals regarding learning and I am telling you to do that as well. Do it for your children and grandchildren, do it for yourself, do it as a way to honor God. Don't settle for being spoon fed. Don't settle for voting based on "how you feel." Using the intellect that God gave you is one way of honoring Him. Don't forget that.

And when you are very depressed do two things. Well, at least two things. First, read Psalm 73. In this psalm David is bemoaning the fact that the wicked are prospering--the bad guys are winning. He sees, though, that this--this temporal, broken world--is all that they have. His rewards are eternal. It helps to keep this perspective in mind when it seems like the wrong folks are in power in Washington.

And after you read Psalm 73, read Churchill, the greatest orator of the 20th century. For don't for a moment think that we are not at war, right now, and that this war is a civil war between those who want to change the very character of this country and those who understand American exceptionalism and want to keep this country great. We have no choice but to fight. We may want to recuse ourselves, we may come up with plausible sounding reasons for our ignorance, but do not be deluded: we are on one side or another and if you choose to sit out you are aiding those in power who seek every crisis as an opportunity to expand the role of government, to remove God from our national psyche, and to elevate alternative religions and lifestyles to the same position as those on which this country was founded. You can fight for what is right or you help the other side and if you don't like those alternatives I challenge you to tell me where I have erred.
I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many long months of toil and struggle.

You ask what is our policy. I will say, it is to wage war with all our might, with all the strength that God can give us, to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.

You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival. --Winston Churchill
More later...

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