I got an email from a reader a few days ago, asking about something we’ve all faced. Here’s a snip:
It gets a little lonely sometimes. At times I feel a little resentful, sometimes just plain angry that so few people know or care to know about economics and/or philosophy when they are so important.
I’m sympathetic, of course, having felt similarly more than once. But, as I often say, perspective is key. We’ve all complained about people who “just don’t get it,” but the real problem is that we just haven’t gotten it.
We have grossly underestimated the kind of fight we’re in. We thought it was about economics and politics, but it’s much more than that. What we’re really fighting is idolatry. If that doesn’t make sense to you initially, I can’t blame you, but allow me to explain.
All Idolatry Shares a Single Root
We’ve all heard slogans like this one:
Why shouldn’t we take money from a billionaire who doesn’t need it, to feed a starving child?
After that, it’s almost impossible to make any argument without appearing heartless. And there’s a good reason for that: The slogan conveys a “first position” that is deceptive and manipulative… idolatrous, really.
This argument starts with an unspoken assumption that the state is beyond question and that any failures must be attributed to someone else. If there are starving kids, it could never be that the state was hurting them. Such a thought wouldn’t register.
Embedded in these questions (and in the minds that form them) is a complete certainty that the state always functions as the agent of good.
This is idolatry, the same as ancient people worshipping their city gods or medieval people holding their Holy Church above all question. In the same way, states are idols to modern people. The lines of thought are identical; the only changes involve the names of the idols – the entities that are given every benefit of the doubt at all times.
The state, our modern idol, steals half of what every working person makes. That means that people are stripped bare for trying to do the right thing. But there is no compassion for them.
And why is there no compassion for these people? Because it’s the state that is stripping them bare, and the state may never be accused; it may only be the agent of good!
It really comes down to this:
Whatever you esteem more highly than reality is your god.
In our time, the thing that is held above reality is the state. One may critique its parts, but the state as a whole is only questioned by crazy, dangerous people. In other words, by heretics.
What we are fighting is a different flavor of the dogma that kept medieval minds in chains. It may even be worse now.
Our Enemies Have Understood Better Than We Have
We’ve all seen people who are embedded in the state system fly into a rage upon hearing our ideas. We thought we were just talking about economics, but they acted as if we were trying to destroy everything they loved.
In other words, our enemies thought our ideas were more powerful than we did. And they were right; we haven’t appreciated what we have.
Governments are necessarily against human will. If they can’t make us feel that our desires and judgments are shameful, their entire operation stands in danger of collapse. Their game requires Joe Average to feel insecure and flawed. Our message rips that game wide open.
Our enemies were right to freak out, and we should start accepting the fact that our ideas are huge.
Big Battles Are Slow
We’ve been looking for a “revolution,” which means that we’ve been hoping for fast change, and have been disappointed when we didn’t get it. But those hopes were wrong – we’re not going to get fast change; we’re going to get slow change. If we don’t adjust our minds to that fact, we’ll remain miserable.
Our ideas are big, and our enemies have deep positions in the minds of our friends and neighbors. That means that most of them won’t change their minds overnight. I don’t like that any better than you do, but that’s the way it is. This is going to be slow.
But in this slow battle, we hold the winning hand, and our winning strategy is to work and to persevere. Forget about a fast win; that was a false dream. We must build, and keep building.
What to Do
Here are a few specific suggestions for dealing with people:
- Rather than arguing words, show them what you’ve built.
- Give people time to work through their issues. Plant a seed, walk away, and reengage later.
- Don’t get into fights. If they ambush you, simply tell them that you won’t accept their tactics. Then walk away.
- People close to you may be there for good reason. Give them time.
- Remember that most people are confused and insecure most of the time. Offer them things that help, not hurt.
- Find others who share at least some of your perspective, and work with them. If there’s no one nearby, join an online group.
Keep planting seeds and watering them whenever you can. For us, perseverance is the path to victory.