The Ever-Present Tyranny or, Why Liberty is so Hard to Obtain

IMG_1006A few months ago, President Obama said the following:

“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works; they’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

The President simply touched on a sentiment that has always existed in the United States, primarily that, “Oh, that could never happen here.” We see tyranny in far off lands, we see the dictators oppressing the people, the stormtroopers busting down their doors, the people assaulted by the police for protesting the unjust actions of a government, and we gasp and say, “Thank God we live in America, that could never happen here.”

These same voices, however, seemingly ignore that America has in one way or another been tyrannical since its founding. While it has experimented with liberty and attempted to extend that liberty to all, once cannot ignore the tyranny of slavery, of genocide against the Native Americans, of segregation, and so on. Americans turned (and continue to turn) their heads to the police brutality against our minority brothers and sisters. Tyranny is a cancer, a disease that simply spreads across a populace, something that if left uncured and unchecked in one segment of a population will eventually spread to the country entire.

The idea of tyranny spreading from one segment of the population to the other segments is seen best in Martin Niemöller’s famous poem “First they came…” As many already know, he states that “they” came for the Communists and he said nothing, then the socialists and still he said nothing, and so on. Eventually when they came for him, there was no one left. That is because tyranny has voracious appetite, it must always feed off people. It has an unquenchable thirst for oppression. That is because tyranny is sin on a mass scale.

We live in a fallen world, one where we humans have rebelled against God. In rebelling against God we have forgone liberty – true liberty is when one is allowed to pursue one’s nature – and made ourselves slaves to sin. It is not a coincidence or a play on words that in John 8:34 Jesus states that sin is a tyranny, but the Son has come to set us free. The results of sin is always slavery. Thus, in a fallen world tyranny is our natural desire.

Tyranny exists for two reasons: First, the narcissism of those in power cares nothing for the masses (and only feigns concern; they entrench themselves and justify their tyranny by saying the masses need it). Secondly, the narcissism of the masses cares more about personal peace and affluence than anything else. That is, the tyrants throw the bread in order to stay in power and the masses accept the bread so they don’t have to make it themselves; all the while liberty is taken away, which eventually destabilizes a society. Every tyranny that has existed has collapsed in a violent fashion, not to mention the lives taken during its tenure. Yet, the masses allow it for their own selfish reasons and the rulers cause it for their own selfish reasons.

If tyranny is the natural state of humanity in a fallen world, then the contrary is that liberty is something that requires work. Contrary to what the President said, tyranny is always lurking around the corner. It comes ever closer whenever a society becomes more immoral, more lazy, more unloving. It knocks at the door when we not only have no problem with oppressing those who disagree with us, but find a sort of joy in it. Tyranny is always present and if we stop for one second in our pursuit of liberty, we only allow tyranny to catch up.

In a fallen world, history has shown us that the natural tendency of humanity is to allow themselves to be ruled by a tyrant. Only a strong and moral people have ever fought to find liberty. In other words, liberty is not the natural state of man in this unnatural world, rather tyranny is. We must always work for liberty, for tyranny is found in rest.


7 thoughts on “The Ever-Present Tyranny or, Why Liberty is so Hard to Obtain

  1. Excellent piece. Truth by any point of observation. Sociology. Philosophy. Psychology. Anthropology. History. And most importantly, theologically dead on.. I suppose there is one point of observation that would not consider it truth or, would say it is not today’s truth. Or they may claim it to be “your” truth because there is no “The Truth” and so their truth works just fine.

    We hear these words from the Politically Correct and when they are challenged, they simply resort to name calling so as to multiply the inherent guilt naturally felt by a society filled with greed, self loathing and a vacuous sense of purpose or contributing to something greater than themselves. Highly susceptable to the guilt message, they applaud and vote “yea” to the Tyrant’s bakery. (Is “bakery” and bread” a reference to Roosevelt’s “br

    “narcissism of the masses” – Dead on. Both from generational arrogance and, as stated, comfort. Television has become the “nectar of the gods” and “the opium of the masses”, “57 channels and nothing on” according to Springstine but, none the less, something on some channel will entertain enough that one happily gelatinizes both body and brain. In the process, they feed on gourmet platters of the Tryrant’s message.

    Niemöller’s poem made no sense to me in my early years. “Why would I be concerned with those heathen Commies?” Understanding of true “Liberty” and “Freedom” was limited to only what I was taught (With the exception of about ten years of heavy hippiedom in the late 60’s and early 70s.) When I God brought me back to Himself, I partially went back to adapting to the evangelical thought of “God bless the USA” where we have freedom to worship as we choose. Translated, this meant; Christians can worship as they choose.

    “find a sort of joy in it”. Indeed. We are all far more sadistic than we would dare to admit, and most have not admitted to their own conscious.

    Here is my question….? Maybe you have an idea. This IS the state of the Nation. I do fear that our elected officials are more puppets than policy makers. I do fear that there are decision makers whose names we haven’t heard but whose power is awful. Be that as it may, what is the Christian’s responsiblity in fighting this evil? Are we to prepare ourselves for armed conflict? After all, the signs of the government preparing for massive civil unrest is undeniable. Are we to resist at all and become part of the obedient masses even if it means worshipping in secret? Accepting punishment and death as martyrs in the Mennonite tradition? Is our obligation to fight that our childdren may know peace and freedom? This is really a question I am baffled by intellectually and spiritually.

    I have good friends on the extremes of this debate and some in the middle. Bible believing Christians all. All can point to a chapter and verse. All can point to broad concepts in scripture.

    Maybe your age will allow you to see a perspective I can’t! Not a setup. Not a trap.
    I’m done with my “rant”.

    1. I do think that Christians always find themselves in a very awkward position when a society decays. I can think of two strong examples, once ancient and the other modern.

      Christians were around during the decay and collapse of Roman society. During the tyrannical years (the years before the collapse – tyranny always leads to societal collapse), Christians did everything they could to hide, escape, and resist, but they never took up arms. While I think humans have every right to violently rebel against a corrupt government (in very rare cases), I do not think such an action is ideal and I believe that every Christian must answer to his own conscience on that matter. Certainly there is a right and wrong answer to that – I will say that no Christians took up arms against the tyranny of Rome.

      The recent example is that of the Christians in Russia during 1917. Reading some of the Christian critics prior to the Revolution is very eye-opening, as they describe the moral decay that led to tyranny. When the Marxists took over, these Christians did all they could to submit to the government without giving into the government. This, of course, led to some being banished (Lossky) and others being murdered (Florensky). In this case, few Christians took up arms against the government.

      So what is our role in the coming tyranny? I think we do what the early Christians did – present Christ to the world in the hopes they’ll discover the freedom of Christ. You can’t shoot freedom into people, they have to want it and desire it. They have to be responsible to handle it. That foundation is only found in Christ. American Christians are in a unique position because we’re told to follow the laws of the government, but technically we are the government and our representatives are not following the laws that were set forth. Thus, if we take up arms against the representatives, are we rebelling against the government or being the sword of the government who punishes the wrong-doers? Ultimately, the problem isn’t solved with revolution, so why kill when it won’t solve anything? The problem is moral, and until people realize that they’ll simply slide closer and closer to tyranny.

  2. Good day Joel, I have read one of your blogs that talks about the universals and particulars, and i derived my definition of the two from yours. I just wanted to know your complete name in order for me to cite you properly so as I will not be committing plagiarism. I’m looking forward to your reply. Regards from the Philippines.

      1. Borofsky?? Wouldn’t have bet that one in a million years! It’s a name you can capitalize on though.

        I agree 100% with your reply. I also agree with Deitrich Bonhoeffer and assassination. I also agree with Gandhi and Martin Luther King in non violence. I also agree with the Founder’s decision to keep the knee standing and let the blood flow. I agree that a dead Christian, or one imprisoned from society can’t share much truth. I agree that in not protecting my family, I surely would be commiting a horrible sin. I agree that martyrs have advanced the cause of Christ.

        Ultimately, a chapter and verse solution may not be found. It may be completely situational and not the time for Lone Rangers. I believe God will speak the same with many brothers and sisters. Some would go off “half cocked” because they carry an underyling hatred. Some would never go off due to cowardice. The local body of believer’s should be able to discern the clarion voice I would think.

        I think that we are subject to “all or nothing” thinking when considering the soon coming tyranny of the State.
        There are bloodless, yet courageous things that could be tried. For example.
        1. Starve the Government. Cease paying taxes. Claim 16 dependants. Send in no quarterlies. Everyone get an extension on April 15th. Imprison their ability to rape and plunder.
        2. Starve the banking system. Withdraw all funds. Pay no credit card payments. Pay no bank loans. Buy precious metals and commodities. “Stuff your mattress” so to speak. Grind the wheels of money lending to a halt.
        3. Blocade the Capitol. Thousands upon thousands to block any access by Senate or Congress. Just don’t let the criminals have access to their Mafia meetings.

        But….. let’s face it. In order to do these things you have to have;
        A citizenry that is capable and willing to gather actual information. Many know they are not getting it with major media. But “See no evil, hear no ……..” Along with the “normalcy bias” which is generational arrogance writ large, many will have the shame of looking into their grandchildrens eyes as they speak of “walking uphill both ways” with IPods and rose colored glasses and so much food to eat that everybody was fat. “Gee Grandpa! What did YOU do to try and stop them from hurting us?”

        How many do you think have any idea that there is essentially no such thing as a dollar with real substinative value?
        The Federal Reserve,(which is neither Federal nor reserve) digitizes a batch of “quantitative easing” . These digits (they don’t even have to print money anymore) are then “loaned” to huge banks, ala J.P. Morgan, and international bank cartels.

        Then they go about the business of “fractional banking.” In the US, a bank can loan 90% more than it actually has in deposits. They then collect interest on money they loaned but never owned. Good money if you can find the work!

        How many know that the “Petro Dollar” is the only reason we are not totally bankrupt now. China, Russia, Europe, Africa and friends like Japan and Australia are organizing and arranging to leave the US dollar as the sole means of purchasing oil. When this happens, the tourist will be shocked at the exchange rate at the Mexican border. We will be crushed.

        A willingness to stand up first. One must announce openly he will not pay his taxes in order to ask others to follow.

        A willingness to plan, strategize and organize this Capital blockade openly.

        But.. let’s face it, the foresight and courage to boldy challenge authoritarian rule while peace is still at hand rarely happens. Our nature is to wait until the “shock and awe” although we know it is coming. It would be nice to believe that all will be rosy till rapture. I too believe the Tribulation is not an experience that believers will see. But I also believe that there is no promise that great and terrible times may precede that day.

        I guess I should apologize for many words. Sorry

      2. Your second paragraph summarizes what I think about the issue of Christians and violence. It’s a complex issue.

        I guess the one issue I’m pretty absolute about is that if someone attempts to kill you for your faith, then we have no cause to fight back. But what if that dictator comes for your neighbor because of his political beliefs, or religious beliefs, or color of his skin? Shall we stand by and let it happen? Should we hide him knowing that we’ll only join him in his fate, which doesn’t solve anything (after all, people forget there have been successful genocides)?

        For me, if someone threatens the freedom of my neighbors and their human dignity, if all other methods have been approached and attempted and exhausted, then we are left with force. Vladimir Solovyov has some interesting writings on the subject and it’s something I’ll probably want to do a bit more study on before attempting to formulate a stronger opinion.

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