Good Fathers Never Die. They Love Beyond the Grave.

Father’s Day might be behind us for this year, but the impact of fatherhood is always huge, and it runs very deep.  In my latest Federalist essay, I examine the power of the father-child relationship:   “You are Twelve Men:” A Story of Fatherhood.  It’s an account of Francis Bok’s Escape from Slavery.

Imagine — if you can — what it must be like to be a seven-year-old boy who witnesses a massacre, and then is captured by one of the killers to serve as a slave:  In addition to enduring beatings, hunger, and degradation, you are completely isolated from anyone with whom you can talk.  The loneliness enshrouds you.  It goes on this way, with beatings and degradation, for ten solid years.  You are finally able to making a harrowing escape.

In Sudan, from 1986 until 1996, Francis Bok survived this unfathomable assault on his dignity and his childhood. How?  What sustained him and essentially saved him?  Answer: Calling on the memory of his loving parents, especially his father who instilled Francis with strength and trust in God.  Francis’ father would tell him: “You are twelve men!”  In the words of Francis:

“I told myself that I must stay strong. My father would want me to be strong. . . they could not touch my thoughts and dreams. In my mind I was free, and it was there in that freedom that I planned my escape.

‘God is always with you,’ my parents had told me. ‘Even when you are alone, He is with you. . . . When you ask God for what you need, He will help you . . .’ Alone at night sitting in my hut, I remembered that. My father once said to me, ‘Even when you are one, you are two. If you are two, you are three.’

I was really muycharko . . . I began to believe that my father had been right: I was really ‘twelve men.’”

The question we must ask is this:  If a father can have such an impact from the grave on a child so alone and oppressed, how dare anyone devalue fatherhood? 

In fact, this question is not rhetorical, because the answer is real.  It’s in Francis’s own words above:  His father’s love empowered him.   It made him free.  Unfortunately, those who seek to control us see this as a problem, and a threat to their sense of power. So these forces are always trying to separate us from those who truly love us.  How dare they?  We need to stay aware of — and fight —  these constant and insane assaults on our relationships.

 

 

 

A Fascinating Read: “Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism”

Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism” is an amazing article by Brendan O’Neill in the British online magazine Spiked.  It was published over a year ago, but its content is timeless.  I haven’t yet figured out what to make of O’Neill since he seems to have connected himself with the label of Marxism. Perhaps its a “brand” that would draw some unlikely folks in to consider and accept what he writes. Provides some cognitive dissonance, perhaps. I don’t know.  But Marxism is a philosophy so conducive to terror and conformity that I personally don’t think O’Neill should mess with it if he believes what he writes.  “Broadly libertarian” is a more suitable description.  In any event,  “Gay Marriage:  A Case Study in Conformism” is truly worth reading.  It’s passionate and compelling and contains so much truth about the squashing of independent thought. The subtitle reads as follows:

“Anyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying.”

Indeed, whenever there is a “seismic shift” in public opinion, particularly about a deeply embedded tradition such as marriage, our antennae should go up.   This is even truer when an agenda is pushed and engineered primarily by an elite that has a virtual monopoly on most outlets of communication — the media, Hollywood, academia.  The clincher in identifying a fake, manufactured opinion cascade is to look at the treatment of those who are opposed to the agenda.  To what extent are they allowed to speak freely?  During the period of “debate” have they been allowed to speak without being ostracized or fear losing their livelihood?  Are dissenters allowed to express an opinion without being routinely and summarily smeared and cast out of society?  If the answer to these questions is no, then you certainly have a mass scale push for tyranny on your hands.  All along, the agenda was just a front for a power grab.

Below are two excerpts from O’Neill’s essay, which you can read in full by clicking the link above:

In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one’s mind or sticking with one’s beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them. This is a campaign that is elitist in nature, in the sense that, in direct contrast to those civil-rights agitators of old, it came from the top of society down; and it is a campaign which is extremely unforgiving of dissent or disagreement, implicitly, softly demanding acquiescence to its agenda.

With gay marriage turned into ‘a kind of common sense’, opposing it became more difficult, potentially even threatening one’s social and moral standing. The ‘common sense’ of gay marriage has been turned into something like a dogma of gay marriage, in a very subtle way. So the very act of debating gay marriage has been implicitly demonised, since in the words of one observer, ‘The fact that there is a debate over whether to deny a group of people their civil rights is unacceptable’. Here, through further linking gay marriage to the old civil-rights movement, even discussion itself can be branded ‘unacceptable’.

My Presentation on Political Correctness

Below in SlideShare  format, you’ll find the first section of a multimedia Power Point that I’ve presented in various forms to different groups of people.  I’ve been trying to raise awareness about what exactly happens inside each of us when we succumb to political correctness.  How are we manipulated?  Why? By whom?  And what can we do about it?

As you go through the slides, you won’t have my running commentary.  But the basic idea is that political correctness is not just the hard sell of an agenda.  It’s a deceptive and highly manipulative method of coercive persuasion. It forces compliance by exploiting the universal human fear of being cast out of society.   But this compliance — usually through self-censorship — actually isolates us even more.  It’s important for us to recognize that we only dig ourselves in deeper when we cave in to it, because we cut ourselves off from like-minded people and only build an illusion that we are all alone in our beliefs. That, of course, is the main purpose of political correctness: to get us to paint ourselves into a corner and isolate ourselves from others. So the big question is how best to speak out and reach out.

Also, here’s the Steve Martin clip from Slide 9 (which doesn’t seem to run in the slideshare):


We often hear the words “group think” and “peer pressure”tossed about.  But it’s really important to go deeper into the meaning of those terms.  We begin by taking a hard, clinical look at what exactly happens to us as human beings when we are subjected to this method of coercive persuasion.  The term “emotional blackmail” sums it up well.

 

Disney’s New Maleficent Still Works to Separate Men and Women

If you don’t mind spoilers, read my review of the recently released movie Maleficent here in The Federalist, “Maleficent: Once Upon a Screed.”

The movie is supposed to be a reinvention of the 1959 Disney classic Sleeping Beauty — from the witch Maleficent’s point of view. But something essential to the original allegory is completely missing from this hash-up.  That would be the determination of Prince Phillip to unite with Princess Aurora despite the forces of evil — personified by the fearsome witch Maleficent — that tried so hard to separate them.  That struggle is what made the original story so enchanting and captivating.  The new spin portrays Maleficent as a sympathetic and good-hearted fairy gone bad and preaches the tagline:  “Evil is Complicated.” (See the trailer above.)  But, in the end, this “new” propagandized Maleficent  ultimately has the same old agenda: the separation of men and women.  Only this time, you’re not supposed to notice.

 

Was Enforced Silence the ACLU’s Agenda all along?

After reading Charlotte Allen’s blog on “The Left’s War on Free Speech,” it’s difficult to conclude that the so-called progressives at the American Civil Liberties Union were ever much dedicated to free speech.   More likely, they’ve been committed to squashing it.   And now it seems the time is ripe for them to do so.  Allen quotes several advocates for curbing the right to think out loud.  In part, she writes:

The watchword was that of one of the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), who wrote: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is…enforced silence.-  

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is …enforced silence. Here is author William D. Cohan, writing in the Huffington Post to wonder “if there should be limits to saying or writing whatever you please in online forums that can sully someone’s reputation with impunity and impair his or her ability to make a living.”

This sort of thing should make us all shudder.  Allen continues:

Cohan’s Huffington Post piece is titled “How Much Free Speech Is Too Much?” His answer:

 “What’s clear is that we’re are at a crucial moment where the ability of technology to permit instant, unvetted and unfiltered commentary is running head-first into the justified concerns of those whose reputations can be torn asunder unfairly by it. It’s a conundrum for sure and one that needs some serious sorting out.”

He’s not the only liberal to complain that America’s 1st Amendment allows just plain too much free speech.

Cohan echoes the voice of tyranny  quoted in The Singing Revolution: “Whenever you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.”

In fact, free speech is a use it or lose it proposition. Keep talking!

 

 

 

Follow up on Maya Angelou’s “Why I kept my Baby”

My last post on the recently deceased Maya Angelou produced some interesting feedback, and I’d like to address it.  Despite Angelou’s personal pro-life story, a lot of the eulogizing over her can seem unsettling because she lent her voice to fundraising for Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion promoter out there.  Even though I was aware of Angelou’s political leanings, I was not tuned into her support for Planned Parenthood, and certainly not the extent of it.

But Angelou’s personal story of a crisis pregnancy and the nurturing of her child still captures my imagination.  And I think it ought to be better known publicly, especially in light of this irony.

I was also drawn to Angelou’s story because it connects two underlying themes of my blog:  Relationships and Influence.

Angelou’s joyful relationship with the son she may never have known had an enormous and positive impact on the trajectory of her life – and therefore also on the lives and relationships of all those around her.  It’s a shame that she didn’t preach more about what she practiced then – about her openness to the humanity of the unborn and our innate relationship with them. Given her influence, doing so could have spared the lives of many children and prevented the brokenness of many would-be mothers. As a supporter for Planned Parenthood, she, sadly encouraged the opposite.

Influence has many facets.  Whether we have influence ourselves, or whether we cede influence to someone, what we do with influence is a huge responsibility.  It’s a shame that Maya Angelou chose to lend her influence and her name to an organization that stood against all of her best instincts.  After all, she told Family Circle Magazine that she kept her baby because “I knew there was somebody inside me.”  Somebody.

The fact is that support for abortion was de rigueur in Angelou’s political sphere.  The tragedy is if there was room for different views there, she very well may have kept to her instincts and promoted life instead. 

So, one can only wonder:  Why?  Why did she go on to support an organization that certainly would not have recognized her unborn son as “somebody?”  And if she had been a pregnant teen under the circumstances today, would she have kept her baby?

I don’t know the answers, but I think it lies somewhere in the intersection of relationships and power.  Was she pressured?  Was she simply asked to headline PP fundraisers?   Would she have ever initiated such a thing on her own? Or, is it possible that in the end, she simply lent her influence in order to preserve her influence and to avoid alienating those around her?  I can’t help but suspect it’s the latter.  The effects of influence coupled with the innate human fear of isolation — being cast out — cause people to morph all the time.

I think paying close attention to these dynamics in ourselves and others is the key to helping turn things around for a more open and life-affirming society.

Maya Angelou: “Why I Kept My Baby”

What a beautiful story, which was retrieved and posted by Feminists for Life in memory of Maya Angelou who died this past Wednesday, May 28.  It is reprinted from a Family Circle Magazine piece that ran on October 8, 2001.  Please click on this link: “Why I Kept My Baby” and you’ll also find an extraordinarily joyful picture of Maya Angelou with her adult son, Guy.  This is a story more people should hear.

In short, she said:

I’m telling you that the best decision I ever made was keeping that baby! Yes, absolutely. Guy was a delight from the start — so good, so bright, and I can’t imagine my life without him. . . Years later, when I was married, I wanted to have more children, but I couldn’t conceive. Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16? Praise God!”

It’s no wonder that when mothers are encouraged to develop deep bonds with their children — particularly when the children come as surprises — that societies function better.  When mothers are discouraged from doing so through abortion, societies get sick. This causes sorrow and bitterness and loneliness to grow and envelop the culture, as we see happening in around us today. But a love that welcomes every child is contagious and healing to all.  That’s the real wealth we need to “spread around.”

Social Media, Loneliness, and Isolation

Two recent articles in the Federalist are related to this blog’s theme of “relationships, power, and freedom.”  Both articles are packed with insights and I highly recommend you click on the links below and read them.

The Loneliness of Not Knowing Ourselves by D.C. McAllister and What Abortion Selfies Tell us about American Community, by Ben Domenech explore how social media seem to have made people more isolated, not less.  Ironically, social media can provide only a faint illusion of connection with others.  For too many, it’s become little more than veil for loneliness, making it even worse.  One danger is that as  people become more alienated and isolated, they become more susceptible to manipulation and control.

Without the real connection of being in the physical presence of others, McAllister, notes, we cannot really be known either to ourselves or someone else.   We can’t really share.  She adds:  “And that is what we want. That is what human connection is all about. It’s being known. This is one of the great themes (and great comforts) of Scripture. We are known by God. Before we were born, he knew us (Jer. 1:5), he knows us better than we know ourselves (Rom. 8:27), the Shepherd knows his sheep (John 10:14), our Creator has searched us and knows us—and still loves us (Psalm 139).

Earlier this month, Ben Domenech reflected upon the decision of an abortion counselor to film her own surgical abortion and try to put a positive spin on it by posting the video to the internet:

“The concept of the abortion selfie is in some ways an inevitable consequence of an increasingly atomized culture. Consider instead the lure that would motivate one to seek to share this moment, and then to share in the reaction to this moment from social media, and then to share again in the reaction to that reaction in the pages of Cosmo. This is an individual seeking out the affirmation and attention of others – for good or ill, it is an attempt to find a community, a grasping for a sense of belonging.”

And I believe he is exactly right.  Her act was not only destructive of life and so much else, but it was also an act motivated by an urge for attention and validation, a craving for community. My hope is that as we better understand this motivation in human beings, we might learn how to breach the walls and overcome the forces that separate us.

 

“The Singing Revolution:” Freedom Through Song, Part V

The trailer below will give you hope. It’s all about how the Truth will out:  through the ripple effect of people speaking freely to one another.  When people develop trust in one another, when they have common bonds and can express that in real friendships, no oppressor can hold them back.

The documentary, The Singing Revolution tells an amazing story of the people of Estonia, a small Baltic nation that suffered under both Hitler and Stalin  and survived the yoke of communism.  The film tells how the Estonian people came together in a show of mass defiance against their Soviet overlords before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  They spontaneously met at an outdoor concert hall to sing forbidden hymns and national songs.  Over 300,000 showed up and there was no shutting them up.  Here’s a telling line:  “Once you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.  The ghost gets out of the bottle.”

The Singing Revolution testifies that real freedom is beyond words. It’s music.  It’s felt as a song in our hearts.  Once out, it’s irrepressible.  But it can only happen in civil society that allows for ideas to be cross pollinated, a society in which there is common respect for the rights of others to live and let live.  Fake freedom is the “unfreedom” that comes from being sold a bill of goods that basically says:  “You don’t need to worry about food, housing, etc., just sign your soul over to the authorities.  They’ll tell you what you may say and may think.”

It’s easier to preserve and press on for freedom when you are emboldened by knowing who your friends are.  The enemies of freedom know this.  That’s why they employ political correctness as a silencing technique: to make it more difficult for us to get to know people or to reach out to them.  It separates people from one another so that they can’t easily unite in freedom, but instead build walls that isolate them.  This allows our relationships and knowledge to be suppressed and controlled.   We should take note of the Estonian people’s response to this:  to reach out anyway and share the song in our hearts.

For more on “The Singing Revolution,” go to their site by clicking here.  Also, please click here to visit The Global Museum on Communism.