Primed for Tyranny, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 14, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I have continued to see posts and articles among "Christians" that mirror what I see in the U.S. culture right now. I see some people blasting evangelicals about hypocrisy and losing their way, alongside fearful articles about Trump laying up a power grab to become our first Tyrant by diminishing the powers of the UN. I see others writing a blank check for anything Republican, Trumpian, or aimed at preserving an America that once was. Every one of them feels they have the most valid argument and some solution for the ills of our culture. And all of them are participating in building a foundation for tyranny. 

How is it that tyranny takes root in a society? Is it because some leader is just so powerful that he/she simply overwhelms the will of the people? Rarely, and I would venture to say never, has it happened that way.

The infancy of tyranny is when people begin to isolate around emotionally charged arguments. It takes hold because of the polarization. As people become tribal and fragmented, the unity of agreement around what is good is destroyed. Facts and evidence take a back seat to feelings, experiences, and anecdotes. Our ability to sort out what is factually true for all people becomes skewed by what is experientially true for whatever tribal affiliation we are closest to. Our ability to know when specific actions are necessary to address an isolated wrong is clouded by our perspective within our tribe. The specific wrong gets overlaid on every circumstance. In short, the whole world becomes a nail, and we just need a hammer to drive it home.

The net effect of this tribalization is that the power of the people is diminished into tribes who are fighting with one another. This is the adolescence of tyranny. In this phase, the tribes feel more passionate rage around emotionally charged issues close to their tribal identity, and at the same time they recognize they don't have the power to convince everyone else or protect their position. In this phase, the tribes are consumed with progressive ideas that jettison the moral and societal framework of their society, or they are consumed with enshrining moral and societal principles to try and help their way of life survive. Both perspectives come from deeply FELT ideologies, and yet BOTH are out of touch with reality. The progressives tear down good fences because the peace and prosperity those fences brought have prevented them from experiencing the original horrors that lead to those fences being built. The preservationists know the fences are important, but they can no longer remember or effectively relate the reasons why the fences are needed in the current context - so their arguments sound like, "just because." (Meanwhile, if anyone happens to notice anything suspicious in regard to a tyrant, it only takes a mild "stirring of the pot" with the tribal conflicts to get them distracted again.)

The amnesia of time and the chaos of tribalism set the stage for a tyrant to rise. They present some great threat, vilifying some notion, person, or ideology. They offer a bright future, change for the better, and protection from the "villain" they present. Often times, the idea or person being vilified represents some of the remaining fence posts of moral standards that could unravel their plans. (This is why it's always important to examine the one(s) calling someone else 'Hitler.') 

By getting the people to hate and reject the "villain" themselves, the tyrant is able to have power handed to them instead of seizing it. They also get the added bonus of wielding guilt over those who tore down the fences and handed them power. They are given broad authority for decisions and legislation that ultimately influences who lives and who dies. That is the maturity of tyranny.

We are not there, but we are on our way. And we are helping the adolescence of tyranny every time we pick up our tribal issues and equate them to Jesus' mission.

Look at Luke 19:28-44. It’s lamb selection day for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people cheer, shout "Hosanna!" and lay down their cloaks on the road to pave the way and express allegiance. But allegiance to what? Why are the Pharisees so nervous? And why did Jesus weep outside the city, as if the city was already lost?

Next week's post will answer those questions and help us avoid being pawns in political plots for power.

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