Monday, April 25, 2016

Being of the Right Side of a Revolution

I noticed today a television show dramatizing the American Revolution is about to return.  It planted this thought. 

In a revolution there must be two sides.  Those in favor, and those opposed.  At the time of the revolution neither side knows which is the right side.  This was true in 1776, and it remains true today.  It is only when the issue is settled and the winners write the history do the following generations fall in line with the righteousness of the victors, at least until history repeats itself and there is a subsequent revolution with a potentially different outcome.

In the case of the American Revolution the revolutionaries sought to overthrow British rule characterized by what the Parliament and the King viewed as legitimate taxation to pay for the defense of the colonies, and what the revolutionaries viewed as an outrageous imposition without a voice in the government.

Today we have a government with three self-serving branches that are divided and increasingly ineffective.  We have at least three or four insurgent groups all opposed to this government for different reasons.  Of course this allows the central government to divide them and maintain their authority.  Then we have those who defend the government just as those who prospered under British rule defended the status quo in 1776.

I wonder, is there a right side to be on?


W.B. Picklesworth said...

I've become increasingly opposed to the government, but I'm not looking towards some kind of savior (Trump, Sanders et al.) Revolution itself is an enemy though it promises hope. My solution is a kind of radical freedom. I'm opting out of "democracy." I won't vote. I won't agitate. I will seek to be free in my personal dealings and in my community involvement.

I suspect that our whole governmental and civilizational edifice is crumbling, but it's not something a patch can handle. We are simultaneously supremely capable and absolutely divided and inept. We are incoherent. Our national myths have ceased to function. Religious faith, instead of unifying, divides us further. We don't have a strong and obvious enemy to unite us either. The Soviet Union was a blessing in a way. No, we've got Islam. And to oppose it is to refute our self-identity.

John said...

W.B. Thank you for your comment, I am posting this in the hope you will return to read.

You cannot opt out of Democracy, you may choose not to participate in the Republic at anything other than a community level, but that alone is enough. As you, perhaps better than most, should understand civilizations rise, grow, and fail. This has been true since the time before Abraham.

What ultimately leads to the failure of a civilization is not the fact we don't have a unifying enemy (although time and again failing rulers have used that tool to continue the rule), it is the loss of a common moral foundation upon which unity is built and understood. Take for example Rome, where the empire expanded to support the commerce and wealth of the state, but as in all things human corruption grew along side the wealth. When Paul introduced the moral imperatives of the church and the empire no longer had its original foundation I believe the empire began its inevitable decline. For them, like us, the separation of man from ruler, and ruler from morality lead to the rise of the alternative choices.

With the rise of sectarian philosophy, the support of the vocal minority, and subjective moralities that justify what has been unacceptable since our founding I think we are in much the same position as Rome when Paul first planted the idea of a righteous God who offered salvation through belief.

May you find comfort in the support of your community, good luck and I miss your blog. ~ John

W.B. Picklesworth said...

I absolutely buy in to your idea of "common moral foundation." And it is exceedingly clear, at this point, that we don't have one. And I really don't see a path to one either, though an enemy can paper over differences for awhile. 9/11 brought us together for a few weeks or maybe months.

That said, I'm still hopeful. Not so much for society, but for people within society. We can still live lives of dignity and purpose and joy.

Life has been very busy with a move to a new church this past year and another baby (Now we've got four!) The blog slid past the back burner and behind the stove. So did blog browsing, for that matter. But I miss it! That's why I came to back to say Hi.

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