EXTREMES & EXTREMISTS
Left and right-wing extremism have both been demonstrated over recent decades, the mosque attacks in New Zealand being the latest atrocity up to the point of writing this article. I am on the conservative right of the debate, but that does not mean that I hold to, or approve of, Neo-Nazi white supremacist movements. Nor to the blind reactive hatred that underpins the vile ideology of the extreme right, or the cold indifference to the views of others. To disagree with or disapprove of a thing or person does not alter anything when it comes down to the respect due to any individual person of whatever colour, creed, race, ethnicity or view on life. That respect only disappears when a person acts or speaks in a way that breaks the barrier most of us understand. The one that exists between what we call civilised and uncivilised. Society works at all levels of engagement, but it breaks down at the level of malignant savagery and insane zealotry.
So, this is my point of view. I am a Christian who holds right-wing, conservative views. That viewpoint has at first base this primary and unalterable directive . I am to love my neighbour as myself. And my neighbour must include those who oppose everything I believe in and value: even my enemy. An ISIS zealot, holding a sword above me with the intention of removing my head from my shoulders is included in this commandment. One given by my God and Saviour Jesus Christ to everyone of his followers. I have no mandate to hate anyone, in fact it is the reverse, to love everyone.
That is my position, and everything that follows has that conviction underpinning everything that is going to be said about the world as I understand it. However that does not mean I cannot hate ideologies that oppose everything I understand to be good and holy. The consequence of that is that I will and do criticise state institutions and popular movements and the people who support them. It is I believe normative for right-wingers to believe conspiracy stories have validity. You can make your own mind up as to whether I believe in conspiracy theories. The Bible accepts that there is a ceaseless battle going on between the kingdoms of heaven and hell, light and darkness, and that much of it is played out on the earth.
Jesus had this to say to the cynics and of his day.
“When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:2-3).
The signs of the times are scarcely hidden, one of the most obvious is that if you hold right wing, conservative or traditional views on society and morality then you are almost by definition falling into the hate crime categories, and plastered all over with the ready made stigma of phobic infestation. Open your mouth and prepare to be attacked for attitudes which are assumed in advance by groups which have put aside much of our ancient faith and culture. The question is, does it matter? If it is all as trivial as a game of cards, then so long as we have not invested too much in the result, winning or losing is not going to be life changing. Jesus however indicates that how we live our life does matter and that the rule of cause and effects kicks in with very painful and life changing results. We reap what we sow!
An example from Deuteronomy. “If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments, … all these blessings shall come upon you”
The effects of disobedience are: “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”
Reading through the list of curses is an eye opening, heart stopping crash course on reasons why it is important to understand the signs of the times. Does the bible give us a clue? The answer is yes, Jesus said the end will follow a time when humanity was acting as they had in the days of Noah. What was life like then? It is described in the following terms.
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
It would be untrue to say that is where we are now, but we are I believe heading fast in that direction. Modern life is taking on the appearance of a game, one in which we can self identify as whatever we think we are. It is becoming a hedonistic, violent, uncaring, dark and self absorbed existence in which we partake either as active competitors or onlookers. A kind of osmosis, soaking it in through the media, thinking perhaps this detachment absolves us of responsibility and leaves us innocent and untainted. We are deconstructing society in ways that have never been seen before. We have become like the proverbial frog in the pot that didn’t notice the increasing temperature until it was too late, the madness and corruption begins to boil and overflow all around us.
Paul when writing to Timothy gives an idea of what to expect.
“But understand this: In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful,arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good…”
Jesus tells us to “take heed to yourselves in case your hearts become weighed down with partying, drunkenness, and cares of this life…” He says: “Watch and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass….”
So we are to watch not only the signs of the times in world events, but the signs of our own spiritual state. We must not be blinded by our daily cares. We need the vision to see ourselves as God sees us, to see the urgent need to repent, change and prepare.
“Brutal, and without love of good” are characteristics of a totalitarian state. The following is worth watching because we are travelling and gaining momentum on a road we have not seen for a while. If you begin by using hate laws to moderate speech rather than generally accepted social conventions, then we may be moving towards totalitarianism, and that has never worked out well, not when done by the Church or the State. Hate laws could at a push be likened to the tanks that moved into Tiananmen Square in Beijing. When a regime like this is faced by up to a million protesters it will take action. The lone figure represents a person who will not be persuaded that the state has the right to remove his freedom to have an opinion contrary to that of the prevailing power structure. This standoff between power and individual freedom concluded with the suppression of freedom of thought and conduct. I do not think we can have any assurance that in our time, through the use of very different methods of control, we are not watching, like dumb beasts staring over a barbed wire fence at the last rites of any true freedom of expression.
The next short video is also worth watching. Freedom is a precious commodity worth standing up for. Even if it is eventually crushed.