Why Do I Needle You?

This is written with a view towards my interactions over at SC&A. I call them interactions, I have the feeling he would call them something else. But he gets links and and comments -so it’s not all bad for him:)

Anyway, when he waxes eloquent upon his soapbox over the superiority of Our Way, in which I am included by default, over that of the…ahem,[cough] “cultures that would deny or defy freedom and truth, and it’s place, instill hatred and mayhem”, something…something just does not strike me right.

Which I have found very odd, because I would be so bold to say that Christianity is the One True Way. I am a great believer in our democratic republican government, as well. And I would cry out freedom longer and louder than most. Really, I’ve lived that way.

But I have had times when I was personally under the boot of those who believe they know ‘what’s best’, and I have looked at enough history, so that riding the high winds of propagandistic fervor bothers me. And perhaps not a little of reading my Bible has convinced me that it is wrong to vilify other people, even when they are your avowed enemy.

So something doesn’t sit right and I discuss the points as they are handed out. And I press for the hard questions, and the work of thinking things out. Why is our way better, and to what degree is it better? And how did we get to this place, because a short look at history shows we weren’t always here.

It sure wasn’t secularism. One glance at the Reign of Terror to the Directoire of Revolutionary France will educate you on that point.

But it wasn’t an institution of temporal Christianity, either. That had its own list of atrocities. You can read Foxes Book of Martyrs for some of the gory details ( and this is after the Crusades).

So, ok, what was it that lead us to this place of freedom with form, with a literate citizenry who can take responsibility for its own governance?

The history is there to read, and it doesn’t involve killing off Puritans or Catholics or Muslims. Persecutions and prejudices worked against it… but there was a combination of the desire for freedom and opportunity to pursue ones happiness that is resident in all men, and an environment of giving first place to those beliefs and principles that best cultivated this for the most people. And it grew…. spread and blossomed into the culture which now gives the most freedom and rights to women and diverse races and creeds to be seen in history.

But you have to remember why, and in order to replicate it, you have to also instill the temperance and cultivate the thinking that produced it.

And we ought to remember that America is not completely free from straying at times. We did have Japanese internment camps, we did mistreat the native populations. We had lapses, but our basic conviction that all men have God-given rights brought us back to center.

Growing up, my mother always said “two wrongs don’t make a right”; and it’s true- I bet lots of your mothers said that to you “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. And that is why we don’t want to belittle the Muslims… or think that we can get away with making a private distinction of “what Islam has evolved into” is any excuse to volley diatribe against culture groups.

It is no excuse. It is wrong, and it won’t transform suddenly into something right.

I am not saying we shouldn’t point out the wrongs and inequities, but let’s do it on the correct base, the one of pitting ideology against ideology and of decrying atrocity wherever it’s found … in the way that addresses the causes.

North Western Winds: How many fingers am I holding up?

says the whole thing so well, he quotes two writers, one of whom, in part, says this:

“George Wiegel, from an address given at Gregorian University in December, 2004:

If democratic institutions and procedures are the expressions of a distinctive way of life based on specific moral commitments, then democratic citizenship must be more than a matter of following the procedures and abiding by the laws and regulations agreed upon by the institutions. A democratic citizen is someone who can give an account of his or her commitment to human rights, to the rule of law and equality before the law, to decision-making by the majority and protection of the rights of minorities. Democratic citizenship means being able to tell why one affirms “the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, democracy, equality, freedom and the rule of law,” to cite the preamble to the European constitution. Who can give such an account?…

and then says this

Absent convictions, there is no tolerance; there is only indifference. Absent some compelling notion of the truth that requires us to be tolerant of those who have a different understanding of the truth, there is only skepticism and relativism. And skepticism and relativism are very weak foundations on which to build and sustain a pluralistic democracy, for neither skepticism nor relativism, by their own logic, can “give an account” of why we should be tolerant and civil.

So I ask you, what is it that convinces us of the value of tolerance? Of the value of human rights?

I would submit it is an idea like this “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Are they your enemy? Do you have a policy of how you behave in the face of that? Do you hold to who you are and what you believe in the face of even its degradation?

Who are you? What do you believe?
Stand like a man and give your answer. Be ready to give your answer, it can win hearts and that is what you are after, after all, isn’t it?

It should be. Because war can’t last forever, and you want something left -something that can be worked with- when all is said and done. You are part of a heritage and leaving one behind you. It is worth being true to.

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