Lets start with this excerpt from a 1791 letter written by John Wesley to William Wilberforce:
Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as Athanasius contra mundum, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God is with you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.
This sheathes my life going forward.
— Some evils are worth fighting, ones so injurious that entire societies crumble under their weight.
— Some people are called by God to fight evils which are as diabolical today as was slavery in the 19th century.
God leads incrementally. Doors open and shut, mostly shut. Circumstances push in a particular direction. The nudges of God arrive in the form of His still small voice … a compulsion within … an acute awareness of need, persecution and desperation without. The attuned Christian more closely sympathizes with society’s easy marks: those who are truly oppressed, not the trendy victim-classes. These are today’s slaves. They merit a dignified liberation.
Mr. Wilberforce spent most of his life ending slavery in England. He offered his first anti-slavery bill in 1791 which was soundly defeated with a 163 to 88 vote. A year later, he tried again. That, too, failed. For the next sixteen years, in fact, he continued to offer legislation as an MP in Parliament. Every one of his proposals was defeated.
Eighteen years after his first proposal, he underhandedly wrote legislation that banned the “foreign” slave trade. This passed by a huge margin. His plan was to work from the outside-in, that is, from a foreign to domestic abolition.
But even this didn’t work. The ban on foreign slavery wasn’t enforced.
In fact, by the 1830s, slavery was still in practice in the English colonies. Undeterred by this circumstance, Mr. Wilberforce continually pressed forward with his passionate (and God-directed) desire to end slavery. He offered his final legislation in 1834 which resulted in the liberation of nearly a million slaves — their owners were fairly compensated as well.
Mr. Wilberforce died three days before the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was passed, never seeing the fruit of his labour.
“O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God in the power of His might ...“
From Yahoo News: “On 9 November, Putin signed a decree, ‘On approving the foundations of the state policy for preserving and strengthening traditional Russian spiritual and moral values’“. (He needs a speech writer …)
The main points of the decree were:
- The Russian Federation considers traditional values to be the basis of Russian society;
- Russia regards the actions of the United States and other unfriendly states as a threat to traditional values;
- The destructive ideological influence on Russians is a threat to the demographic situation in the country;
- The traditional values of the Russian Federation include life, human rights and freedoms, patriotism, high moral ideals, humanism, etc.;
- Internationally, the Russian Federation will form the image of a country that preserves and protects universal spiritual and moral values;
- The provisions of the foundations of the Russian Federation’s state policy on traditional values will be reviewed at least once every six years;
- The relationship between the authorities and the media should become a tool for preserving and strengthening traditional values in the Russian Federation…
The impetus behind Mr. Putin’s decree is unknown. Why he chose to give this speech yesterday is a mystery to me — I have no inside information.
I do know, however, that Mr. Putin is on to something important — even if it’s not true — the idea that a country is composed of people who share values. This is not a mind-boggling insight. I don’t know why it’s so repulsive to elitists.
Since these values reach backward in time and include ideas passed down generationally, they’re called “traditional.” Traditional values are time-tested as well as customary, unrecorded, and universally understood (though not always shared or often upheld). They percolate up from folk culture — they are not downwardly-imposed by the nation’s elitists. They’re populist values, that is, both in a prescriptive and descriptive sense.
Putin claims to have his finger on the pulse of the people’s values. He’s a populist leader in this regard, if his claim is true. When a leader re-presents the values of the people, his/her leadership is legitimate in the people’s eyes and hearts. When a leader preaches an alien religion/morality to the people, lecturing and hectoring them, his leadership is intuitively illegitimate. That’s what’s happening in the West today. In the U.S., Europe and the West in toto, the chasm between the values and worldview of elitists and the people is too wide and dark to be bridged, thus the people view their leaders as illegitimate.
By definition, traditional values are the people’s values. In contrast, progressive values are coerced which necessarily debases and demeans a nation’s people.
Mr. Wilberforce was an upper-class populist. He appealed to the latent, forgotten or buried Christian values of the English people. His anti-slavery ethic, though done through elitist channels, was profoundly populist because it tapped into the traditional values or ways of looking at life that were tightly woven in the English heritage. Slavery was not deeply rooted in English society. It was imposed on ordinary English citizens by elitists in industry, shipping, big ag and government.
Most countries have heritages. They have pasts. Traditions. Their pasts can be appealed to, even if latent or mostly forgotten. Traditions live on in silence and though they’re rarely screamingly obvious, ordinary people eventually intuit their own ur-values when spoken and upheld by elitists. Although the people can be fooled by smooth-talking elitists or the censoring of information, eventually, people intuit who is “with them.” A politician who honestly taps into these traditional values, as Mr. Putin may be doing, has punctured the pulsing, buried soul of society. That’s where power eventually asserts itself — legitimate social and political power necessarily parallels the people values. These are populist values, the ideals of the people. These are the only legitimate values on which leaders can rule.
The power of elitists is tenuous if they’re not tapping into the flow of the people’s values. Elitists, today, sense their own precariousness. Censorship, regulations and the repression of the church and other organizations of civil society are a consequence of not being in synch with the people’s values. There’s no need to censor if what is spoken is aligned with how the people think. Thus, censorship is an admission of weakness. It’s an arrogant sort of weakness that assumes ordinary people cannot handle information that runs contrary to their deepest values … or, worse yet, assumes that the traditional values of a country are evil or wrong and therefore deserve to be repressed, subjugated and silenced.
You can tell which elitists are illegitimate by who they want to gag. If their values were those of the people, none of this would happen.
Religion is the base of all values; it’s both the spring from which values emerge as well as the shores that channel their flow. Secularism is religion — true — but it’s also a derivative religion, a perversion of a former faith. In Europe, that former religion is Christianity. Without it’s Christian roots, Secularism has no soul. Without God, the faith of Secularism has been reduced to a pathetic, narcissistic worship of the self.
The religion of European elitists is Secularism. Deep within each one of these elitists is a little Jew or Christian crying to be noticed. It’s such a sad state of affairs. And, an insecure one. Knowing, as they do, that their Secularism is superficial, that in a foxhole there are no atheists … and knowing, as they do, that their values repress and demean the people in the countries they’re supposedly leading … and knowing, as they do, that their values must annihilate the traditional values that threaten their legitimacy, they quickly censor, imprison, intimidate, beat and even kill Christians.
A Christian pogrom.
In the midst of this, and perhaps due to such persecution, there’s a silent revival going on in Europe. As in China, Christians meet surreptitiously in homes or as far away as possible from the prying eyes of Secularist authorities. In France, for example, the superficial veneer of faith was ripped off more than a century ago — this morphed into the extreme censorship, bigotry and repression of today.
To dismiss traditional values by replacing them with those of a foreign faith, or even the Secular perversion of Christianity, is to tyrannize the people whose faith is unfathomably deep. That’s the soul of the country. It’s tradition.
Revival precedes whatever follows it — restoration, reform or revolution. What follows revival is determined by the response of the state and, in the case of France, by Secular elitists who openly despise their Christian citizens.
To be “unfree” is to be a slave. To be coerced into beliefs and behaviours that run contrary to the deepest values of a nation is to be enslaved by that’s nation’s rulers.
A contemporary Wilberforce is needed in France. I pray for such a person.