This is no small thing, to restore a republic after it has fallen into corruption. I have studied history for years and I cannot recall it ever happening. It may be that our task is impossible. Yet, if we do not try then how will we know it can't be done? And if we do not try, it most certainly won't be done. The Founders' Republic, and the larger war for western civilization, will be lost.But I tell you this: We will not go gently into that bloody collectivist good night. Indeed, we will make with our defiance such a sound as ALL history from that day forward will be forced to note, even if they despise us in the writing of it.And when we are gone, the scattered, free survivors hiding in the ruins of our once-great republic will sing of our deeds in forbidden songs, tending the flickering flame of individual liberty until it bursts forth again, as it must, generations later. We will live forever, like the Spartans at Thermopylae, in sacred memory.And it could well be that no matter how long the odds, if we but have the will, we can and shall win.Forgive me these somber thoughts during what should be a time of unsullied joy at our many blessings. I am compelled to say what I believe and not what you want to hear.
"Mike," one of my friends said years ago, "you're the guy who's always pointing out to the preacher that there's a skunk livin' under the front pew. You may be providing a valuable service but nobody is gonna love you for it."
You know, my friend was right, but then I don't do what I do because I want to be loved, but rather out of love -- for my family, my friends, my country and my God, although not necessarily in that order.
When I was finished with my speech in Hartford, I moved around to the side of the building where a film crew wanted to interview me. Sitting on the cold steps, a rally participant came up to me and asked in a somewhat challenging voice if I believed in God. I was somewhat puzzled, since I had introduced myself as a Christian libertarian, but replied that yes, I did. He pressed me as to the particulars, and I allowed that I was a Baptist if that meant anything to him. (Although I have never been one for sectarian arguments.) He left unsatisfied, it seemed to me, and I was in equal portions mystified, not sure what test of religious purity I had just failed.
My faith in God is important to me, more important than I think it is to most for I was once a godless communist. Only when you have embraced the lie of hate and the darkness and then been unexpectedly saved from it do you truly appreciate the light -- and love.
In Steven Pressfield's novel of Thermopylae, Gates of Fire, Dienekes asks: “All my life . . . one question has haunted me. What is the opposite of fear? . . . To call it aphobia, fearlessness, is without meaning. This is just a name, thesis expressed as antithesis. To call the opposite of fear fearlessness is to say nothing. I want to know its true obverse, as day of night and heaven of earth.”
This question runs through the book like a mysterious main thread, sometimes unspoken but always there:
“When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life’s preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart has truly achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime. This is why the true warrior cannot speak of a battle save to his brothers who have been there with him. This truth too holy, too sacred, for words. I myself would not presume to give it speech, save here now, with you.”
And this passage:
“A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men's loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them...A king does not expend his substance to enslave men, but by his conduct and example makes them free.”
Substitute "leader" for "king" and you have as fine an expression of modern leadership as expressed anywhere. In Passion of Command: The Moral Imperative of Leadership, Marine Colonel B. P. McCoy elaborates this concept:
"A commander must genuinely love his men and win their affections in return, and when the time comes, he must use that love to cause his men to willingly risk and even sacrifice their lives to accomplish the mission. Here lies the moral imperative of leadership."
Toward the end of Gates of Fire, as the inevitable slaughter draws close, Dienekes concludes “I have the answer to my question. . . The opposite of fear is love.”
This is not something readily shared in a social setting. It is intensely personal, this love, and not easily explained. For love comes in many forms -- love of God, love of family, of friends, of country. To say that I do what I do out of love sounds corny to the modern ear yet it is certainly true -- in all its forms and expressions.
I have seen this, too, in the works and actions of others, who do courageous things despite their fear out of love, with the love of God and the duty to keep His commandments not the least of these.
Yet John Adams warned us over two centuries ago:
But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. -- Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798.
I refer you back to the quote at the top of this essay. No one knows if it is possible to restore a republic after it has fallen into such corruption as we have today. I do know that with God, all things are possible and thus, if it is His will, we will find a miracle and it will be done. I do know, however, that I am commanded to stand for those moral principles enunciated in the Ten Commandments, and I do so out of love -- for God, for my family and my country.
And if that sounds corny, well, so be it. I will continue to stand and do those things out of love that my conscience tells me are required, regardless of cost, for I am commanded by God to do so. After what I've been through these past few years, it is obvious to me that He's not done with me yet. Whatever the outcome, I know for certain that our side wins in the end. But our country? Our Republic? That is up to us and to God's will. George Mason warned the Founders that "As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes & effects, providence punishes national sins, by national calamities."
Or, as Milton warned, do not become the monster you claim to fight:
The fidelity of enemies and allies is frail and perishing, unless it be cemented by the principles of justice; that wealth and those honours, which most covet, readily change masters; they forsake the idle and repair where virtue, where industry, where patience flourish most. Thus nation precipitates the downfall of nation; thus the more sound part of one people subverts the more corrupt; thus you obtained the ascendant over the royalists. If you plunge into the same depravity, if you imitate their excesses, and hanker after the same vanities, you will become royalists as well as they, and liable to be subdued by the same enemies, or by others in your turn; who, placing their reliance on the same religious principles, the same patience, the same integrity and discretion which made you strong, will deservedly triumph over you, who are immersed in debauchery, in the luxury and the sloth of kings. Then, as if God was weary of protecting you, you will be seen to have passed through the fire that you might perish in the smoke; the contempt which you will then experience will be great as the admiration which you now enjoy. -- John Milton, The Second Defence of the People of England, August, 1552.