From the Spanish Inquisition, and before, to today, True Believers have been attacking people, cancelling people is the new term. Cancelled physically by killing, or psychologically and financially by insults, false accusations and specious accusations of, well, simply not being pure enough, of not having always shown 100% consistency with current hard and fast true beliefs. No matter how often current orthodoxy may change, those who are True Believers in the orthodoxy preached by their chosen group are all in to the point where nothing else is at all acceptable.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
The entire “You are with me or you are against me.” thought process is invading virtually every part of our lives. And dividing our country and our friends and families.
Here’s how to fix all of that. Start with a search for common goals. Do not start with a statement of how right you are.
Let’s take a look at some of our history and see if there are any lessons for today. WWI was a horrific affair, with tens of millions of dead, maimed and ruined lives. Often people ask how any war started, and sometimes there is a clear–if unsatisfactory–answer. WWII started in Europe when Germany attacked Poland, and later attacked Russia. Attacks led by True Believer Adolph Hitler and his Believer followers. It started in the Pacific when Japan attacked the US. Japan was led by True Believer General Hideki Tojo, Prime Minister during the war, and his Believer followers. The Allies, mainly the US, Russia, France and Britain, had clear and well justified reasons to fight the Axis; Germany, Italy and Japan. The Korean War started when the North attacked the South. The justification, to save South Korea and to contain communism, was less universally acclaimed, but still justified. The Korean and Chinese True Believers lit this fire.
Vietnam, also justified as necessary to contain communism, was simply an exercise in futility, and a monument to ambition and ignorance. But the “think tank” in Washington, to me exemplified by the lead “numbers man” Robert McNamara, a senior American business executive and Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. McNamara was dead (pun intended) wrong about the war, and 58,000 Anericans paid the ultimate price for his beliefs. Ah, but he was a True Believer. He Truly Believed in supporting a corrupt Catholic government in Buddhist South Vietnam. He Truly Believed that by observing the greater numbers of the enemy killed vs the number of Americans killed, that we were willing. He seems to have forgotten that you win wars by taking–and holding–ground. But he was a numbers man. And a True Believer.
Now to WWI. Most of us learned that it started when Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. A young Serbia Muslim, Gavrilo Princip, participated, along with 4 other Serbs and a Bosniak, in assassinating the heir-apparent to the Austrio-Hungarian empire. A series of threats, demands and insults created a clash of egos that exploded into WWI. It is not unlike a bar fight, where no one really knows how it started, but there is blood and bodies everywhere. Princip was a True Believer. Kaiser Wilhem, II of Germany, a major player, was a True Believer. As were many of the young men from both sides who were taught that God was on their side. Despite the death and destruction, despite new weapons of war; airplanes, gas and machine guns, virtually nothing was decided. But enough True Believers were left from both sides to help trigger WWII. (In a telling twist, Muslim Serbia sees Princip as a hero, Christian Bosnia sees him as a traitor.)
Communism, a far greater killer than Nazism, is fueled and expanded by True Believers. How else could any political/economic system, that has never worked anywhere, get away with killing 40 million people in Stalin’s Russia and 80 million in Mao’s China, still be popular in many areas of the world?
The Spanish Inquisition started in the mid-1400s, and lasted for centuries. This group of True Believers tortured tens of thousands to keep their view of Christianity pure. Before that, the fighters on both sides of the centuries-long Crusades were led by True Believers.
Okay, Will, tie this to today.
Antifa, turturning the language by labeling themselves as anti-fascst, are True Believers. As are the more ardent proponents of political correctness. Anytime that you see one person or group wanting to silence another’s opinions, you are dealing with True Believers. Anytime you hear someone say that simple words can deserve to be met with violence, you are dealing with True Believers.
But is that where it ends? We scoff at the thought of the Spanish Inquisition, but are there any similarities? Edgar Allen Poe’s story Pit and the Pendulum, depicts a scene from the Inquisition, led by True Believer Tomás de Torquemada, a Christian friar. His goal was to save souls from hell by eliciting conversions through torture. Or simply to kill off non-believers with suitably ugly deaths. Are we any different today if we tell people they need to believe what we believe or they will live for eternity in the ever-painful fires of Hell?
Or how about how we treat family and friends? Do we act like True Believers when it comes to our support for or disgust with Donald Trump? How many rational conversations have we had recently with those who have strongly held beliefs that are different from ours?
Don’t get me wrong, we can hold deeply cherished beliefs without acting like all or nothing True Believers. We can rigorously argue and otherwise promote our positions without giving others the stark choice to either believe or be banished. Passionate conviction is much to be admired; angry, perhaps violent, dismissal of others is not.
The solution comes in significant part by seeking common goals. They are out there. Seek and ye shall find. For more, go to the link.
And, yes, I am a believer in everything that Revolution 2.0™ stands for. Everything. May I never become a True Believer.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.