In our time together today, our “Take Ten” with Will Luden, we will separate the causes people are protesting or supporting from the tactics used; they are most often incorrectly blurred to favor the person or group making the comments. Let’s go over some foundational principles first:
1. The ends do not justify the means; means are ends in and of themselves. As soon as you say that your ends justify your means, you are saying that might is right.
2. “Whatever it takes,” might be an acceptable strategy if: A. Your cause is fundamental to the survival of mankind and B. You’re dead, no pun intended, certain that you cannot be wrong.
3. Follow Revolution 2.0™’s Golden Rule of Political Tactics: Use only the tactics that you are okay with being used against you.
This 10 minute episode will help us in our lives, and help us to think through the issues surrounding us.
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It is the height of arrogance to claim that tactics that you approve of using in support of causes you favor are unacceptable to the point of being criminal when unemployed to support causes you do not believe in.
The trucker protest in Ottawa crippled the capital city of Canada for over two weeks, and shut down the Ambassador Bridge that carries 30% of the annual trade between the US and Canada. A 2004 Border Transportation Partnership study showed that 150,000 jobs in the Detroit–Windsor region and $13 billion in annual production depend on the Detroit–Windsor international border crossing.
Ambassador Bridge map and discussion.
Trucker protest photo
Latvia protest photo.
Many of the same people and groups who enthusiastically support the trucker protest get self-righteously irate and want to shut down other protests when they block an intersection for an hour or two. And these people and groups want to export the trucker protest to other cities and other countries.
Now for more about separating the causes from the tactics:
- Truckers and others have every right to protest, but they have no right to cripple cities and major thoroughfares. We can either approve of or criticize the anti-mandate cause for the protests, but we cannot approve of the tactics.
- Civil Rights protesters, including those supporting BLM and wanting change post the George Floyd murder, have every right to protest, but they have no right to block streets, burn and loot businesses, and invade police stations. Once again, we can debate the worthiness of the causes, but we cannot approve of the tactics.
3. Supporters of a failed presidential candidate have every right to protest, but they have no right to invade our nation’s capitol. Debate their stolen election promise if you will, but do not support the tactic of invading the capitol.
The intentional mistake that I see in all three areas, truckers, civil rights, Jan 6th, is that people who are in support of the cause focus on the cause, and gloss over the tactics. Phrases like, “Mostly peaceful,” and “Peaceful protest supporting democracy,” come to mind. People who are against the cause, focus on the worst of the tactics, and gloss over the cause. Phrases like, “Another night of violence, burning and looting,” and, “January 6th was the worst and most dangerous event in America since the Civil War,” come to mind.
Separate the causes from the tactics, the fly poop from the pepper. Stop making people and events either all good or all bad. Either all black, or all white. Literally and figuratively.
Now back to my might is right claim. If you take the ends justify the means position, I can guarantee you that at least some of those who disagree with you will do the same–but from the opposite side. At that point, the stronger side, the side with the stronger means will win. Not logic, not morality, not what is best for the country. Might will win. Might will decide what is right. Might is right is the logical extension of the ends justify the means argument.
Let’s take a seat in our favorite theater and watch a particularly powerful scene from “A Man For All Seasons,” a 1966 historical drama that won six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. This scene shows a conversation between Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII, and Will Roper, the young hothead who wants to fix all perceived injustices immediately and by any means necessary. Roper believed that the ends justify the means; Sir Thomas More did not.
Will Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”
Will Roper: “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”
Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of the law, for my own safety’s sake!”
Sir Thomas More would give the Devil the benefit of law for his–his–safety. Unlike Will Roper, the young hothead, More does not believe that the ends justify the means. All sides, regardless of the validity or invalidity of their causes, must use legal means to promote their causes.
Think back with me to the debate about waterboarding. Many people were defending waterboarding by saying that information gathered that way saved American lives. The late Senator John McCain, famously a long-term, tortured prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison in North Vietnam, was against it. I am not taking a position for or against “enhanced interrogation” here; I am taking the position that if we do it, we should expect others to do it to us. If we use enhanced interrogation on prisoners we take, we should expect others to use it on the American prisoners they take.
We all have the personal responsibility to follow the Golden Rule of Political Tactics: Use only the tactics that you are okay with being used against you. Speaking of personal responsibility, this principle does not stand alone; the two main and interdependent principles at Revolution 2.0 are:
1. Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
As we conclude our time together today, police in Canada’s capital are telling protesters to “leave the area now” as the demonstration against Covid restrictions continues. Hundreds remain in Ottawa in defiance of the newly deployed Emergencies Act.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything. You can start by subscribing to these episodes, and encouraging others to subscribe with you.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:1.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
This is Will Luden. We’ll talk again soon.