Activist logic does not even qualify as decent Aristotelian logic.
In order to reject the primacy of Aristotelian epistemology, I first had to understand it to some degree. This didn’t come as some dreamy longing for swords and sorcery. It came from genuine scholarship, though I’ll be the first to admit it’s not my scholarship, but that of others who have been ignored and marginalized. Somehow I managed to get what they were saying and the truth of it consumed me.
Activism assumes a certain power of the people which cannot be proved. Yes, there are apparent victories, but no lasting change. Instead, it’s the oppression that endures and finds another way, while liberty dies from a thousand cuts. What most people foolishly ignore is the hollow core of human decency. It’s there, but it always highly limited to certain contexts.
Glaring and dramatic illustration: Okies are generally nice people. Most folks out here in the semi-rural Eastern Oklahoma County will be decent when things are okay. Some are wild and crazy all the time, but generally decent. Put them under the least bit of pressure and decency fades quickly. Because our area was subject to tornado threats, our household decided to head south out of its path. That meant two-lane rural roads, laid out mostly in a square grid pattern here in Oklahoma. There are enough people and enough cars to pack these quiet rural roads if they all decide to do the obvious at the same time. So we found ourselves in slow moving traffic as we rolled over hill and dale toward some landmark we all knew. While the majority did stay within the common rules of courtesy, you would scarcely believe the huge minority that didn’t. So while we sat in an open parking area that was generally safe for awhile, we were treated to the spectacle of heavy traffic taking both lanes in the same direction and the most incredible panicky impatience that was willing to risk the lives of others to escape.
Prolong the panic past a single night and there would have soon been massive loss of life from crazies, compounded by those who were intent on teaching them a lesson. This is an anecdote to illustrate, not prove, my point. Our Western Civilization is exceedingly fragile. So long as we can expend our emotional energy on virtual threats in games and movies, or in wars in other places, things will be okay here at home. But the underlying brutality is not tamed, only diverted. This reflects the vast layer of Germanic social mythology lying over our Greco-Roman heritage — this is the fundamental nature of the Enlightenment, and the West will never progress any farther than that. We are not exactly Aristotelian. We still have this massive element of brutality and call it something else as justification for not examining it. The willingness to harm others as the means to changing things we don’t like is the core of activism. That we somehow convince ourselves our activist goals reflect the will of some god or another changes nothing. It’s still doing bad things in pursuit of what we imagine is good. It’s the same instinct for oppression but from the opposition parties.
Meanwhile, the pacifist veneer peels off quickly when it comes to things people really want. Doctrinaire pacifists are rare because they are killed off when things get genuinely hairy. Wise pacifists aren’t involved in the first place. They realize peace cannot be gained by activism, because humanity cannot ever be at peace. Only in the wildest frothy imaginations of idiots could we find the notion mankind is inherently peaceful. Violence is fundamental to the nature of the Fall. Humans evolve physically, and our intellectual wiring changes with both short and long term environmental influences, but intellect cannot possibly rise above a certain point. It cannot discern ultimate reality. And without a very solid background in mysticism, it cannot even discern the facts, never mind fundamental reality.
Activism is a manifestation a particular cultural mythology. You cannot sustain the energy level necessary to keep evil in a box. Static constraints are a waste of time; you cannot outsmart the genius of evil by designing barriers. There is no foolproof plan. The potential is there for containing evil, but it requires an opposing watchful force at least equal to the threat. The moral passion is not strong enough to keep it up. Logic and human longing are not sufficient. Oppression is fundamental to our human nature; it requires no particular effort. Activism against oppression is contrary to our nature. All the changes you think you can gain are illusory. We are still left with that damned meanness that pervades the human race and guarantees the same flood of sewage will go somewhere regardless of your levies to contain it. Talk the Army Corps of Engineers about the futility of flood mitigation; we’ve seen it right here in my county. No matter how far out you plan your cycle (“100 year flood levels”), that time eventually comes around and the levies are topped or breached. Activism is limited to tactical measures and temporary shifts.
Do you worry what your children will live with? Too bad; you can’t do much more than help them learn what you learned. Constrain them too tightly and your social edifice will crumble for being too ambitious. Constrain them not at all and they will turn on you for lack of interest. As for some vague notion of building a society in which they can prosper: You cannot possibly make that much difference. Peace, love and understanding cannot be imposed or it ceases being peace, love and understanding. It requires a voluntary embrace, a conscious choice which cannot be sold to more than a tiny minority at any given time. You can have it in yourself and demonstrate it. It’s a weak contagion against a strong immunization.
The logic of Paul’s admonition to be submissive to human government does not demand loving the evil that governments inevitably do, nor does it require imbuing those governments with a false holiness. Nothing in Scripture makes human government sacred; you have to misread it on purpose to get that idea. Ordained by God is one thing; sacred is another. Government is a part of the punishment of the Fall. Besides which, not a single government in the world today obeys God’s ordinance about structure and conduct. Thus, He works with them as they are, as slaves who never understand and require constant force just to stay in place. It requires a peculiarly damned foolishness to leap from “God requires we obey” to “God says it’s a good and holy thing.”
Paul’s logic is based on the assumption you can’t accomplish much by resisting, because the rest of the Bible makes it painfully obvious God is in control of human politics. His plans are indicated in parabolic language, but never actually explained because they are above human intellect. We are told to trust Him and play along, giving our time and attention to the things He has placed in our hands. Human politics is not in our hands. Such affairs run according to His dictates and He is not accountable to us; we are accountable to Him. We should expect no lasting or significant influence on human affairs. Rather, we focus on glorifying God, even at the cost of seeing our children taken from us and enslaved to unconscionable evil. Trust God for their lives and obey the mandate to stay focused on His glory. In other words, flee when you can, resist when you know His Spirit demands it of you, but don’t actually expect anything to change. Trust Him for the outcome.
It is a peculiarly damned Western myth that fires our hyper-protective instinct regarding our progeny; we go way too far in demanding control and prescribing outcomes. His Word admonishes us to raise them with a grip much more limited than the evil mythology of our times implies. We pull parenting epigrams out of context, completely missing the cultural and intellectual atmosphere behind them. We bring to the Bible a broad collection of false dichotomies and completely miss the point. We end up striving against God by not trusting Him to take care of our kids for us, particularly in those things He says are His concerns, not ours.
Teach your kids the moral laws of God first by living them. Those moral laws include a requirement we be otherworldly, not activist. Then, having demonstrated them, we teach them orally. Against the vast ocean of falsehood we face today, that’s a pretty big job. Still, at some point your spirit recognizes you can’t steer the outcome, neither for your children nor the rest of society. Just because you built your homes in Tornado Alley during the quiet part of the cycle is no reason to blame God when the storms come around and rip your house and children to shreds. It’s your fault.
Do you blame God for slaughtering the Egyptian children during the Passover, the final grand affliction of the Ten Plagues? No, we blame the Egyptian parents for rejecting God’s message. That mess was not necessary. It was human intransigence against the patient and merciful hand of God. Don’t be like them, demanding God conform to your expectations when He has offered plenty of warning it will not be that way. Nor should you be like the Pharisees, clinging to a false God of your intellectual reasoning. God is hardly constrained by Aristotle’s delusions.
Activism is the ultimate expression of human folly.