As political parties across the world and movements struggle for legitimacy, perhaps they should consider a strategy of building on truth? Objective truth. Put another way, truth that is evident, eternal and stands the test of repeated challenges over time, even to the point of violent conflict or war.
This post is not an attempt to justify violence or war in any way but in examining times in history where nations, movements and/or groups of people made a stand, violence was unfortunately involved. Violence is all too often the response of those threatened by truth and in some cases those promoting or building on truth needed to stand their ground in the same way. Rather than dissecting the need for violence, lets dig deeper into the foundation of the roots of the battle in the first place. This may give some insight into struggles we see playing out in various places in the world today.
While there may be many foundational truths that could be selected for this analysis, there are a few that seem to be at the root of many conflicts in history. In fact, it could be argued that most wars and conflicts have been fought over one or more of these principles. Familiar to many, they are described in the Bible by Paul, the apostle this way:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Don’t be offended by the “you are all one in Christ Jesus” portion of this statement. While not the purpose of this post, it is actually an argument that the true Jesus-following Christian faith is the root of all true freedom movements in history. We’ll leave that argument to another day but focus instead on the three statements of objective and natural truth that have been the root issue of many political parties, movements and conflicts in recent centuries. Modern political parties (Conservatives in Canada, Democrats in USA and Labour in UK) would do well to reflect on these fundamental truths as they revisit their foundations and future strategy.
“Jew or Gentile”
In Paul’s day, this phrase summarized the primary ethnic structure of his known world. The Jews were the descendants and followers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the faith as handed down by Moses. The Gentiles were essentially everyone else (Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Persians, etc.). In essence, Paul was saying “in reality, there are no ethnicities or nations that are better or greater than others”. This is a profound statement for a man raised on the superiority of the Jewish faith and nation. He had long since abandoned this worldview after his encounter with Jesus (the Way, the Truth and the Life).
Many examples could be referenced to battles and wars fought over this foundational truth but none more significant than World War II and the mentality of the German nation as expressed by their leader at that time, Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf:
“The sacred mission of the German people…to assemble and preserve the most valuable racial elements…and raise them to the dominant position.”
“All who are not of a good race are chaff,”
While Hitler and the Nazis primary target was the Jews, the “truth” that needed to be built to justify the Holocaust and eventually war was the supposed superiority of the Aryan race, which was his descriptor of the “perfect German”. This needed to be opposed aggressively and unfortunately with much bloodshed, which resulted in World War II.
This type of thinking can be found in the foundations of racism that still exist today. Whether toward blacks, indigenous peoples or other races, any person or group that seeks to elevate their own race or lower another is not building on truth as it plainly exists for all to see. There truly is no Jew, Gentile, Nordic, Asian, Black, White, Yellow or any other race. We are all equally human, made in the image of God, regardless of our ethnicity.
“Slave nor free”
This self-evident or natural truth has often been spoken in history and too often not practiced. How a nation such as the USA, founded on this principle found in their constitution, could allow slavery to prosper is astonishing:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Yet, that is exactly what had transpired up until the US Civil War in the 1860’s. While slavery was not the entire root cause of this conflict, it was a key component in the South’s insistence on the rights of states to self-determination. It was also the primary enemy of one of our heroes, Harriet Tubman, who physically and aggressively opposed slavery in her own life and others by leading many to freedom through the Underground Railroad. This was a network of connections and safe houses that slaves traveled through toward freedom in the northern states and eventually Canada.
In both of these examples, the evil of slavery of one human to another needed to be opposed and in some cases, violently. Truly building on truth often comes at a great cost. Unfortunately, despite the US Civil War and the efforts of others such as Martin Luther King, the battle against slavery is not yet complete. While there has been much progress, the struggle continues.
“Male nor female”
Perhaps no quote from the Bible and especially from Paul generates more controversy than this one. At Back to Eden Group, we have written about this issue in the past and we invite you to familiarize yourself with our perspective on this. In summary, Jesus and Paul were not anti-woman at all and in fact, during a time when women were considered little more than property of men, they were downright radical.
In the context of building on truth, especially as it relates to current issues in society and political parties, it is important to see how movements and groups have stood on the principle of equality of the sexes. An example of this would be women’s suffrage movement in the 1800’s and 1900’s, which eventually resulted in women receiving the right to vote. This occurred in many countries in this time period, however the example cited here is the USA.
This fight continues into our time in areas such as corporate management, political leadership, sports and in other key areas. Again, this truth is foundational and should be obvious but unfortunately has not been throughout history.
What does building on truth look like today?
At this point, it is fair to ask what does this have to do with challenges we face today and especially that of movements and political parties currently in periods of reflection? We would suggest that if this process does not involve building on truth and policy in relationship to these foundational truths then the process is flawed and will not succeed. No matter how much a person, movement or party tells themselves that their position is built on truth, history will be the final judge. Here are some specific questions that should be examined today:
- If all nations and peoples are equal with none greater than the other, does that include Canada, the USA, Israel, Palestine, Russia, the UK, Taiwan, China, etc.? What is a nation and once people recognize themselves as such, do they have the right to self-determination?
- Is slavery, including economic exploitation of one class of people over another, ever acceptable? If not, what should be done about it? Does freedom from slavery include the right to earn a living, make a profit and keep enough of it to support yourself and your family?
- Does the “neither male nor female” statement extend to LGBTQIA+ people and any who self-identify within or outside those classifications? What is the foundational truth in this area?
- Is the issue of climate change actually settled as a foundational truth such that actions associated with it that impact nations, ethnicity, slavery/economic rights and gender are secondary?
At Back to Eden Group, our view is that recent electoral failures or potential failures in Western democracies such as Canada, the UK and USA can be traced to parties or movements moving too far away from foundational and self-evident truth. More importantly, attempts to force their views on key issues such as climate change, gender re-assignment, Israel/Palestine, Brexit, immigration, etc. that violate this principle have failed and will continue to fail. Examples of some statements that will likely offend but need to be faced head on are:
– Israel has the right to exist as a nation. So does Palestine. Full stop. Let’s get on with defining what that looks like.
– Gender reassignment is a very high-risk procedure for all people, especially pre-adults and the associated science supporting it is not yet conclusive.
– The EU may not be the best option for those living in the UK.
– Immigration into all countries must have some process and protections to prioritize law abiding and peaceful people.
– Aggressive action to threaten the economy and ability of people to earn a living based on future oriented climate models is not justified. Responsible stewardship of the earth is.
Most importantly, should those movements or parties insist their views are truly building on truth, rather than dictating it they should choose the strategy of continuing to proclaim it with the conviction that their view will eventually prevail. This was expressed so well by Abraham Lincoln, during his presidency in this way:
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
This is the true battle of our generation. Building on truth is dependent on leaders that will “bring them the real facts” based on foundational truth. May we have leaders, movements and political parties who are committed to this process.