“I’m not right-wing or left-wing, I consider myself more of a centrist.” so said one of my acquaintances during a recent conversation. That’s not the first time I’ve heard such a statement or similar expression. The truth is that it is far more common for people to say they are a moderate this or that than it is for them to pick a definitive side. We’ve seen this play out for decades as people publicly declare themselves to be “undecided”, “centrist” or “neutral”.
It’s not all that big of a surprise that when pressed to take sides most folks will squirm around and try to stay in the middle or remain neutral. During the last several years I’ve penned articles that discussed the “reasonableness disease”. People want to be seen as reasonable by their peers so they deliberately avoid choosing sides or they will temper their beliefs with blanket statements such as “well, I can see both sides” or “I’m not saying you’re right or wrong” and the famous “…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
It’s easy to fall into the moderate or centrist trap. No one wants to be disliked, not even by strangers. People by their very nature crave acceptance and seek to be well-liked. When you pick a side you automatically set yourself up for scorn or ridicule from the opposing faction.
Consider the birth of our nation. In 1775, statistically only about one-third of the American population favored complete separation from Mother England. A full third were Tories that vehemently opposed independence. The last group consisted of centrists who simply held out to see what would happen and then go with the flow. Even after April 19th 1775, with the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, there were still members of the Continental Congress who wished to make peace with King George and come to some kind of power-sharing agreement.
An Artificial Life
When it comes to important matters, such as the future of one’s nation, I would never suggest that a thinking man rush to take sides without careful consideration. Mob rule and emotionally-driven decisions more often than not end very badly. Decisions about where to place one’s allegiance should be based upon knowledge of the past and present, experience, and the moral principles upon which a person was raised.
Unfortunately, far too many citizens in the 21st Century have precious little knowledge or education about the past or history. Many of these same people live an artificial life void of principle where their only stimuli comes electronically or from some synthesized opiate. Consequences for poor or bad decisions have been nullified by the nanny state.
Up until this recent juncture in history, if a man made bad choices he was left to suffer the results of those choices. The drunkard or drug-addict was not rewarded with subsidized housing, food, and medical care. The thief was not allowed to apologize and then be released back into society with little more than a scolding. The rapist and murderer were not allowed to excuse their heinous acts with pretexts about a tough childhood, emotional distress or mental confusion.
When a nation’s citizens feel no real attachment or responsibility for their decisions and choices it is no wonder that they feel no true allegiance. Or, more properly, they only feel allegiance to the entity that continues to offer them shelter from responsibility.
The Times have Changed
When your family’s future is secure and there is no demonstrable threat to your community or nation, choosing sides isn’t all that big of a deal. When the opposing parties have the same end goal but differing opinions about how to reach that goal, again declaring allegiance doesn’t seem all that pressing.
In my youth I recall my parents and grandparents debating over supporting Republican or Democrat candidates. However, there was never really a doubt in their minds that both parties, regardless of their outward differences, supported the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which this nation was founded.
Today the situation has changed. Mothers and fathers have serious doubts about their family’s future and security. Our nation is being threatened from without and within. There are those within the government bureaucracy who see the U.S. Constitution not as a framework and foundation but as an impediment to their desires. To these people, the rule of law is something that needs to be gotten around or ignored. At one time the rights and security of the individual were paramount. Now the selfish and short-sighted desires of the collective take precedence over the outnumbered individual.
The lazy, self-centered, and devious seek to align themselves with a bureaucracy ever bent on greater and more expansive power. Like the elementary school child who seeks popularity and acceptance at all costs, citizens seek to align themselves with whomever promises the most cookies.
Free cookies and popularity don’t build and secure nations. Only hard work, sacrifice, and risk-taking can build and secure a community and a nation. The men who founded the greatest nation this world has ever known risked everything, up to and including their lives, to secure individual liberty for future generations.
Time to Choose
While the centrist or moderate stance is genuinely seductive it is only a viable option during times of genuine peace and security. That description in no way applies to our current situation. Refusing to believe in the devil doesn’t negate his existence. Evil exists whether you decide to face it or not. When the wolf has your leg in his mouth you cannot save yourself by willing him away. Distracting yourself with electronic stimuli or naïve disbelief changes nothing.
Throughout history the reasonable moderate has met the wolf with a look of genuine surprise and disbelief. The wolf sees the moderate man simply as food and has no regard for his neutrality. When faced with the cold reality of their impending doom moderate men flee toward those they once scorned as “closed-minded” or “extremist”.
Why should either side receive the neutral man? The moderate is like tepid water, neither hot nor cold. When a person drinks tepid water he spits it out. As the time for taking sides arrives, the neutral or moderate will be trusted by neither. The centrist will both be enslaved and subjugated or they will be despised and forever viewed as suspect.
A man should be thoughtful and make his decisions with an understanding of history, experience, and his own moral principles. Refusing to make a choice or attempting to remain neutral is a childish illusion. Adults have to make hard choices and, like it or not, you will eventually have to pick a side. Make your choice wisely for the time for neutrality has come to an end.