Saturday, November 10, 2012

Do Not Be So Open-minded That You Brains Fall Out:

Reflecting with Chesterton on a conversation with a friend.

" I am European and I am more comfortable with change"  was a good friends well-intentioned attempt to reassure me about the latest election.  It was a conversation I did not want to have, because I know that beneath our friendly exterior there are deep, deep differences about what makes life meaningful, about transcendence, and about what it means to be human.  Consequently, in this particular discussion, those differences came down to politics.  She was not comfortable with the passion of my resistance to her meaningless phrase.  In the end she learned that one of those changes this election has presented us with is the diminishing of our 1st Amendment Right to prevent the government from establishing laws to prevent the free expression of religion.  Her assertion that birth control is simply health care for women (ridiculous) is not an excuse to un-tether ourselves from our constitutional rights that protect us from tyrannical intrusions of the government into our lives, first and foremost our religion.   Her openness to hear me out is a credit to her, (which is why we are such good friends in spite of these deep differences).

“When men have come to the edge of a precipice, it is the lover of life who has the spirit to leap backwards, and only the pessimist who continues to believe in progress.”
― G.K. Chesterton

It was her claim to be more comfortable - open-minded - if you will, with change, that stirred up my ire.  Mind you, she was completely unaware of the constitutional problems of the HHS Mandate. And her comment was a subtly chastisement of those of us who are resistant to a particular change. It really is not entirely her fault that she was ignorant of some extremely important facts, there was little concern about the details of this mandate in the mainstream media,  yet I have to think that this open-minded acceptance of change is very foolish with out a population that is actively and aggressively seeking all the appropriate information. We are becoming sitting ducks for tyranny.

“Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”
― G.K. Chesterton

Truly, how on earth are our rights secure with this kind of mind-set?  In fact, though I tried to pass it off as a harmless statement, anyway I turned it around in my mind it was an offensive statement.  Because, though I am innately conservative, I do not view progress or liberalism (in the classical sense) or change as necessarily bad, but neither do I view those things as necessarily good.  I think progress is only authentically good when it is rooted in immutable truth, grounded in objected morality. It is our job in a democracy to be well grounded in truth and virtue in order for us to be open-minded and discerning all in one.  And for the United States of America, any change that seeks to redefine a constitutional right is incredibly dangerous and stupid. Blithely and un-reflectively accepting this change, in ignorance or because of a deep pessimism about humanity is to walk off the proverbial cliff.

Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.” 
― G.K. Chesterton

Indeed her statement was filled with pessimism. A pessimism tied to fear of man's failures to be responsible for our neighbor, for our own community ect., and the intense desire to rid ourselves of the ideals, and virtues that reveal our failures.  And any religion that will not let go of immutable truths (because they are IMMUTABLE) becomes something to fear, and silence.

And the solution to freeing yourself from responsibilities, to your neighbor, to your country, to your God, is to to hand over that responsibility to someone else.  We are doing that by our "open-minded' readiness to diminish truth, redefine morality and replace it with a million little regulations and techniques that protect you from ever having to take responsible for your neighbor's misery or folly.    If the little laws and regulations do not prevent it, there will be an agency to provide the technique or pill to fix it.  In this instance,   Contraception and abortion replaces chastity.  If (as in the discussion my friend and I were having) a constitutional right to free expression of religion gets in the way of universally eliminating the necessity of having to deal with unplanned children, redefine that constitutional right, make the right malleable.  This is reasonable in the un-reflective mind, because even in the most chaste worlds, there will still be failures, isn't life better when you don't have to worry about that?

“Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”
― G.K. Chesterton

But remember, if whoever is in power can redefine a right, than you don't have any.  They are merely privileges granted to you by the powers-that-be, and you better hope they remain friendly to you, and you never are an inconvenience to them.

There is a tradition that jumping off a precipice is prejudicial to the health; and therefore nobody does it. Then appears a progressive prophet and reformer, who points out that we really know nothing about it, because nobody does it. And the tradition is thereby mocked - to the peril of us all.”
G.K. Chesterton

In the end, my dear friend had not even realized what was at stake (again, thank you mainstream media), and even though I did my best to inform her of the serious objection I and those who value religious freedom have against the implementation of the HHS mandate, It does not even touch on the deeper problem for her, and for our western society as a whole:  The lack of  minds, hearts and principles that are tethered to unchanging truths and to God given rights.  This produces an ignorant, gullible population with shallow values and lazy charity.  They surely do not consider themselves gullible, because they consider themselves principled and open minded and not afraid of change (you know, progressive)! When you endeavor to change founding principles you had darn well better consider whether or not you are undermining you own refuge in times of trouble.  Whether or not you are freely giving away your own God-given rights.  And then you had better seriously reflect upon the ambitions of leaders who pursue such agendas.  In the end these types of changes will be a form of suicide, and it will not be merciful or painless.

Also, I really like this Mumford and Son's song.
Consider the following lyrics:

I'll be bold as well as strong.
and use my head alongside my heart,
so tame my flesh and fix my eyes,
a tethered mind freed from the lies.
 So, in conclusion,it is the death of democracy to just complacently accept unacceptable changes.  If that is the European way, than so be it.  But I hope to high heaven it never becomes the American way, because in my view whether or not one is comfortable with change should depend entirely on what that change is, and if it is wrong then fight it with all you have!

“A dead thing goes with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Authentic progress, good laws, real charity and solid principles are always tethered to the unchanging truth.  If they are not, they will be blown straight to hell, and we will go with them.

Now, just for fun:

Update:  A couple good related links:

On Religious Liberty
On the Five Stages of Religious Persecution
USCCB's response to Joe Biden
A Reflection on the French Reveloution and the Struggle for Religious Liberty by, Donald Prudlo Phd

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