“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis
In two recent posts under this same title, I summarized the message of Roy H. Williams’ and Michael Drew’s book Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future. As I explained in Part I, the thrust of the book is that history unfolds in cycles — like a pendulum — through forty-year arcs from what the authors refer to as a “Peak Me” phase to a “Peak We” phase. The period from a peak We to the next peak We — one round trip — is roughly eighty years, and the authors claim we are heading for the next peak We in or around 2023 — less than six years from now.
The apex of a We cycle brings an over-the-top emphasis on conformity for the common good, stifling individuality, and suppressing individual liberty. Unfortunately, according to the authors, it always goes to extremes, bringing witch hunts and bloodbaths.
In Part I, I laid out the reasons why I think the current conditions in the US support the authors’ hypothesis. In Part II, I discussed how I think the unpleasantness might show up. Today, I want to offer some thoughts and encouragement on how we ought to live through difficult and dangerous times.
Tough times aren’t anything new
First, it’s important to remember that this generation will not be the first to live through a peak We, or even the first to endure hard times. A family member with whom I was discussing this series pointed out that although World War II was a time of excessive violence and conformity, there was also a great deal of wholesome unity as Americans banded together to endure hardship and support the war effort. This observation is correct, and it neither rebuts nor excuses the internment of Japanese Americans in camps.
The potential for overreach notwithstanding, I believe it is possible for faithful men to live honorable, courageous, and fulfilling lives even in the midst of trouble. Consider the persecution of the first-century church at the hands of the Roman Empire. Christians rejected the empire’s demands that they confess Caesar as lord, and they suffered condemnation and martyrdom as a result. Even so, the apostles Peter and Paul each wrote that Christians were to submit to the authorities, and more – they were to pray for the emperor. If you are unclear how hostile the relationship was between the empire and the church, take a look at the emperor Nero and the persecution he visited on followers of Jesus.
Options = strength. Strength = options
Making it happen
Your mindset matters
My not-so-exhaustive list
Love your neighbor (yes, that one) — If you’re on board with sowing good seed to help your community hold together, let’s go back to the Good Book. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” goes back 3,000 years — and that’s still the best advice. To love your neighbor when things get dicey, you have to get to know him now, before things get difficult.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” – Jeremiah 29:4-7 (ESV)
Bridge the divide — Find ways to establish common denominators with your opposite numbers. No, you can’t make people love you but you can model godliness. Previously, I referred to Charles Murray’s book, Coming Apart, and the trends he cited that signified a growing separation between college-educated and non-college-educated Americans.
Emphasize and live in the theology of the body — Recognize that we need each other and we need to be able to cooperate with people who are different from us.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Give space — Don’t be the moral busybody Lewis mentions above. Even if — especially if — you disagree with someone, let him be free to have his opinion without fear of reprisals. The gravest provocation is the one that hounds a man for his private thoughts. Speech codes and political correctness, along with employment practices that result in firings for saying or believing the “wrong” thing, .
We don’t get to choose the time or place…
Theoden: I will not risk open war.
Aragorn: Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.”