(This was originally posted 16 November 2011)
Both Sharon and Coyote have recently had some important words for the lot of us. Because I’m a loudmouth who abolutely has to have her opinion included, here’s my thoughts on matters.
I do agree with both of you.
Wait. Before I continue, I think it must stated, even if already understood, that the lot of us here, are here because we’re all trying to figure it out, whatever it is, and we’re throwing ideas back and forth in the search for clarity and understanding. We must do this because for at least the past century, and certainly since the Wilson Administration, growing percentages of Americans have been raised much like mushrooms—kept in the dark and fed sh*t. We’ve realized this, we’re all declaring that “We’re not mushrooms, we’re Americans!”—but we’re still working out what, precisely, that means.
And when I say “growing percentages,” I mean everyone born after 1970. I mean 100% of those with childhood memories of Sesame Street. And then decreasing numbers as we work back in time, though never even approaching zero, and maybe flattening out at the 30% mark back in the 17 or 18 hundreds.
What this means is that no matter how clear we are now, or how well and properly we were raised—simply living and working in the culture as we know it has had an effect, like it or not. The fact that you’re reading this means you have internet access, which means that you have been exposed to, and have therefore been influenced (positively or negatively) by this culture. By certain things that even we are sure are True, but maybe. . . aren’t.
Now, on to addressing Coyote and Sharon’s mutual concerns.
Do not think for a moment that Coyote and Sharon are in disagreement, or at odds. Both of them gaze upon the same Monster. Both agree that it is a Monster. And just like any two people in the universe, they have two different reactions. Likewise, I have a reaction all my own. And you have your own reaction. We all agree that it’s a Monster, and must be dealt with. It’s in the details that we differ—and this is a blessing, because the more reactions we come up have, more solutions will be found. This difference will be key to dealing with this beastie.
I think a big problem is that conservatives like us, and even more so the rest of “normal, non-socialist-rogue Americans”, have this thing about 1) Rule of Law (as we understand it) and therefore 2) Playing by the established rules (as commonly understood by reasonable folk) and 3) Not being the guy who fires the first shot.
All of us here know, in our heads, that Number 1, Rule of Law, is moot at this point. There is no Rule of Law anymore. But I don’t think it’s truly set in to our hearts. It’s not denial—it shock, in every sense of the word. We’re working our way through it. Hopefully, we’ll be finished working through it in time—there is no guarantee that we will.
Because of this, we’re still on Number 2, Playing by the Rules. But the Rules were shattered long before the Law was shredded. We keep wanting to play by the Rules and Law because we still see value in them, not realizing that it’s very possible we’re performing CPR on a week-dead corpse.
As for Number 3. . . We’re between 1+2 and 3 right now. Like. . . 2.93. . . We haven’t realized that we’re past 2, but 3 hasn’t quite hit yet. But, when 3 does hit, we need to know that 1 and 2 are gone. At least, our old relationship with them is gone. Our goal is to resurrect them, of course, but if we wait for the strictly legal-as-we-understand-it and always peaceable ways. . . That’s a long wait for a train won’t come. We’re all here trying our dangdest to be faithful to the law, and trusting in the law, not realizing that the Law-as-we-understood-it is dead. [Understand that Gandhi and MLK were aberrations that worked because their opponents were, for the most part, basically decent folk who were wrong on some things. Gandhi would not be remembered if his foe was Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc. . . Likewise, MLK would be a bare footnote if our leaders had been among those just named.]
But, we also won’t be the ones to fire the first literal shot. We can’t be, for such a thing is against our live and let live nature. What is between what we have done, what we continue to do, and civil war? The only hope we’re clinging to, right now (aside from God working some long-term, Deep Miracles), is that we can hold out just long enough, that we can stretch what little is left until our efforts to take back our culture and our government start reversing the damage that has been inflicted.
This is not about the next election. This is about every single election we have left in this country, whether it’s this next one, or the one after that, or the one after that. . . Not a single person reading this comment will ever have the luxury of not having a life-or-death election ever again. It has taken generations to reach this point– it will take even more generations to get to where we need to be. Ladies, we know that it takes at least twice as long to lose ten pounds as it does to gain. Likewise, getting America back in shape will take longer than it took to get this far gone.
Whether our future holds bloodshed our not, and no matter who the victors in such a conflict might me, there is not a one of us who will live to see the day when America is where she ought to be (barring of course the End of Days up and happening, which naturally changes everything). Why did the Israelites have to wander 40 years in the desert before reaching the Promised Land? Because the generation of slaves had to die off first. Even though they’d been freed, their minds and culture had been warped by their upbringing, and therefore they had to pass on before Israel could be found. This is why even Moses could not enter the Promised Land—the best he got was seeing it from a distance.
So, yes, we fight. Every hour of everyday. We fight because our children, or their children, will be the ones to live in America-As-She-Ought-to-Be. But we need to stop thinking that we’re going to fix this, or get this fixed, anytime soon. We won’t. (Again, unless God totally upsets everything, which we cannot depend on, much though we hope and pray for it). This is going to be the longest, hardest slog in American history. We’re trying to pull an entire nation out of a deep, bubbling tar pit with only one hand.
It may be that this Administration finally gets the violence it’s been aiming for. It may be that America shatters into vicious, horrific civil war. It may be that America topples from the top of the world, and the Light of Liberty is, for a time, swallowed from sight. But you’ve pointed out– there’s nowhere to run. There’s no retreat left.
So we will fight, singing psalms the whole way, and so will countless others, simply because there is no other option. I firmly believe that the vast majority of humans in this nation are good, decent people who just want to be left alone to live their lives. I believe that fact is what will rule the day in the end. Will it suck super bad for a long time? Most likely. Will it be difficult to see the light in the distance? Most assuredly.
But an important thing to learn, and to teach our children, is that our enemy’s weapons are Fear and Despair. Fear is the Mind Killer, yes? Despair is the Soul Killer. Despair drives all the biggest mistakes we can make. If fear kills the mind, despair utterly annihilates it.
Many of us here are warriors—but many of us are not. Those of us who have lived our lives as civilians need to realize that the distinction is a luxury we are running out of. Leaving the title of warrior to our professional warfighters was good while it lasted, but we cannot lean on them anymore. They have fought, valiantly and with such honor that the mere thought makes my eyes prick with tears, even as I cast them down, ashamed of my own lack of courage. But I cannot afford cowardice anymore, and we as Americans can no longer shove the fighting away, to be dealt with only by the rough men who stand guard. Stop thinking of yourself as a civilian, if you have been. If you see what’s happening, then you are now part of the Militia. Start thinking like it.
I mentioned earlier “Law as we know it,” and “things we are sure are True but maybe. . . aren’t”. Let me share something with you that my father shared with me as he was preparing a talk for a local gun club. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the Supreme Court Case District of Columbia V. Heller (this is a PDF, btw), a case revolving around the 2nd Amendment. The whole thing is, of course, fascinating reading, but for now, scroll down to pages 22-24, wherein Justice Scalia writes about the phrase “A Well-regulated Militia”.
“Well-Regulated Militia.” In United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, 179 (1939), we explained that “the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. . . Letter to Destutt de Tracy (Jan. 26, 1811), in The Portable Thomas Jefferson 520, 524 (M. Peterson ed. 1975) (“[T]he militia of the State, that is to say, of every man in it able to bear arms”). [My emphasis]
On the next page, when discussing the phrase “the Security of a Free State”, he concludes with this:
“There are many reasons why the militia was thought to be “necessary to the security of a free state.” See 3 Story§1890. First, of course, it is useful in repelling invasions and suppressing insurrections. Second, it renders large standing armies unnecessary—an argument that Alexander Hamilton made in favor of federal control over the militia. The Federalist No. 29, pp. 226, 227 (B. Wright ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton). Third, when the able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized, they are better able to resist tyranny.”
Seriously, though, at least read through pages 22-24. I don’t wish to copy every word, but for contextual meaning, you really ought to read it all. That said, consider the words quoted, and then consider the state of the pioneers who went west. The Militia, as such, is held by the court to be every able bodied male of legal age, who act in concert with each other and who are well-regulated (meaning not that they were federalized or gov’t controlled, but that they were disciplined and not prone to looting and abusing those around them). In the old west, the Militia was the men of the area who banded together to keep their settlements safe. Every male of legal age, able-bodied, was of the Militia. They kept the law themselves. They might choose a sheriff to be a full-time law-keeper, and the Sheriff was trusted to Deputize those he needed. But beyond that, there was no division between civilian and LEO. Everyone was a LEO. Which means that there really wasn’t such a thing as a vigilante, unless for some reason, the sheriff explicitly forbade you from taking the measures you deemed necessary to keep you family safe. (In which case, the sheriff was in league with the bandits and you got rid of him for a proper sheriff). If you came back from the range to find a man raping your wife, you were by right and duty, Judge, Jury, and Executioner.
Do you see what I’m saying? As long as there is Rule of Law, there can be distinctions between full time Law Officers, Professional Warriors, and Civilians. But when Rule of Law has failed, or gotten tenuous, then the rights and responsibilities and Law and Freedom fall back to Everyman.
Take this concept and fast forward. These days, we wouldn’t limit it to only able bodied men, simply because we no longer can. Now, I’d say the Militia is Every Able Bodied Person over 18 years of age. And the situation?
Well, consider the movie The Boondock Saints. It’s a bit violent, but the soundtrack is fantastic. In this movie, we are presented a city (south Boston, to be exact) where despite the good and noble efforts of cops and FBI, the rule of law is utterly broken. The movie opens with a priest giving a sermon involving Kitty Genovese. As the story progresses, we see how even though the cops know who all the bad guys are, and do everything they can to bring them in, the bad guys are always let free, because the legal system is so corrupt it is not only not working anymore, but it’s working against the very people it is supposed to protect. Enter Conner and Murphy MacManus, twin brothers who start by kinda-accidentally killing some Russian Mobsters in self-defense. This leads to them deliberately taking out the local heads of the Russian Mob, and they go from there. Their friend Rocco is a package boy for the local Italian Mob, and he knows everyone, and how to get to them. Rocco is set up as an interesting contrast to the MacManus twins in that they are disciplined and very much in control of themselves, while Rocco is a loose cannon, very much lacking in the discipline area.
This movie was intended to be a consideration on the pros and cons of vigilantism, as shown in the closing credits. However, if we take the understanding of Militia as formulated above, the MacManus twins are the Militia, but Rocco, being undisciplined and not really in concert with the other two, is not the militia. Indeed, it’s not that far a stretch to say that, given the circumstance in the movie, and the constitutional understanding of keeping and bearing arms as expounded by Justice Scalia, the actions of the MacManus brothers, while perhaps distasteful to some, were actually constitutionally justified. As the government law-officers were no longer able to keep the law, it reverted back to “every able bodied male/ person above 18.”
Stew on that a bit, please. The law keepers, as we know them, are an artificial construct. When they fail, the responsibility to keep and enforce the law reverts to those who have always held the right, but rarely exercised it—all of us.
This is one of those things that I think we’ve always thought we knew, but maybe got just a little bit wrong. Yes, the police are supposed to be our friends, and the soldier keeps us safe. But these distinctions are distinctions of luxury. People can specialize to be a cop, or a fighter, because others prefer to specialize as a farmer or businessman. Vigilantism has been looked down upon with “Who are you to take the law into your own hands?!” Well, actually, it is our Right and Duty to Keep the Law in Our Hands. We may delegate to cops, but the right and duty is still ours. Only slaves are free of that duty. To be free, means to keep the law, and insist upon it.
In closing, I’d like to say that some of this thought comes to me from the past few weeks of considering my reactions to certain stimuli. See, I ran across a, er, Chronicles of Narnia fanfic the other day. I confess that fanfiction is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me—a nice way to let off steam while seeing different interpretations of characters I know and love. While reading the story, I realized how that my reactions to Aslan coming on the scene are always very emotional—I can’t watch Prince Caspian without tearing up, every dang time. Same with Dawn Treader. Aslan has a profound, emotional impact on me, something I think I’ve mentioned before. Much more profound, I’m sad to say, than most representations of Jesus. Even though Aslan is a storybook lion version of Jesus. And I think that the problem is that Jesus has gotten so . . . watered down, so nice-ified. . . the popular image of Jesus is so. . . nice! And that’s wrong! Love is not nice, and Niceness isn’t Love! But it’s all tangled up in my brain with Jesus, even though my brain knows it’s wrong.
Aslan, however, has not been nice-ified. He’s very much a Lion: Great, Powerful, Strong, Fearsome, Wild—and Good. Everyone wants to rest between His Paws, because they’re so great and strong.
Ann Barnhardt has been trying to explain this to people for some time now, but so many have such a resistance to it, because there’s not a Church out there that hasn’t Nice-ified Jesus and made him sweet, cuddly, and clawless. What makes Jesus’ sacrifice so profound (among other things), was precisely that He is so Great, and Powerful, and Mighty, and Bad*ss, but He deliberately set it aside for our puny, weak, pathetic species as a willing sacrifice. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has a good explanation of how that works.
If we want to reclaim our strength – which we must do as part of saving this nation—then the Jesus considered must be more Aslan, less hippy. Go read some C.S. Lewis. And after Narnia, The Screwtape Letters are quite enlightening. We must not give in to Fear or Despair. We must stand ready and waiting. We will pray as we fight, and fight as we pray.