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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Being Thankful for the Left

When we celebrate Thanksgiving, after being thankful for family and friends, for health and comfort, for food and shelter; we shouldn't forget to be thankful for the left.

There is no light without darkness and without evil, the good often fails to find their own voice. It is in the presence of slavery that we remember the worth of freedom. Men and nations are forged in war; not only the war of shell and shot, but the war of ideas. War teaches us to fight for what we have. Wars of ideas teach us to stand up for what we believe.

It is because conservatives are basically hopeful and confident that we are also prone to extremes of despair. Too many us were shocked at the decline of our society because of our great confidence in it. The faith that conservatives have in America makes them vulnerable to being crushed by the latest victory of the left.

I have seen far too much despair and defeatism, too many comments that suggest there is no hope for America and the only thing left to do is pour a glass of wine and watch the sun go down. But those comments testify to how sheltered Americans are from the struggles against tyranny around the world.

Eight years of Obama is bad, but try sixty-nine years of Communism on for size. That's what generations of Russians had to live through. Ask some of the conservative activists in Europe who have never had any of the freedoms that we still take for granted whether they've given up hope. Ask people from countries where criticism of Islam can mean death, whether they've given up hope.

There are countless tales of courage over the last century of men and women who did not stop fighting, who did not stop teaching their children so that they would not stop resisting. And those stories have not ended. They continue today in Europe, Asia and South America. And those people would envy the conditions under which we fight, where we can protest without being shot or sent to prison, where we can have a shot at winning elections if we try hard enough.

Where we are, compared to 100 percent of the rest of the world, still free.

We face a hard fight, not only for our freedom, but the freedom of the world. The international left has made America its special project. It knows that if it can extinguish the hope of liberty in this land then it will drive the rest of those who hope for freedom across the ocean deeper into despair. And it wants your despair. It wants you to give up so that the rest of the world gives up too and bows under its chains.

And yet this fight is a glorious one. This fight is our birthright. And we should be thankful for the fight.

It would be more pleasant if there were no Obama or Hillary. If Alinsky had never been born and Marx had never been whelped. It would be nice if we lived in a world where red was just a color and the Democratic Party was a rural movement suspicious of the Federal government and dreaming of an agrarian utopia. But then so would never having to work for a living or getting up out of bed.

Life is challenge and we face all kinds of different challenges. We get up early out of bed in the morning and drive to work. We rise in the middle of the night when the baby cries and we go to the hospital when our loved ones need us there. We do dreary things and terrible things that seem so different from the life we imagined as children. And we do them not only because they are duty, but because these challenges, the daily ones and the once in a lifetime ones, make us who we are.

Besides these prosaic challenges, the daily routines and the occasional tragedies, there are uncommon challenges that we face when the foe comes to our gate and demands that we bow and become slaves. This is the challenge that we face as a society, a nation and a people. It demands more of us and it ennobles us. It makes us a great people and a great nation, rather than only another people who seek to live in comfort with no thought for anything else.

Good emerges in response to evil. We need our enemies to remind us of who we are and what we can do when our backs are against the wall. We need evil to remind us of the good that we are capable of. As a whetstone sharpens a sword, so evil sharpens us into a weapon against it. It makes us morally stronger and teaches us the stark truths that we cannot take refuge from evil; we must confront it.

If there were no left, would there be nearly as much patriotism among true Americans as there is now? And if there were no left, how many of us would really contemplate the core principles of freedom and free enterprise? If there were no left, how many of us would ponder what we truly believe and what compromises we are willing and unwilling to make? If there were no left, would we be the same people that we are today?

For those of us who believe in the Bible, the Lord created both darkness and light. And if it were not for the darkness, would the light be nearly as precious to us? Imagine a world without sunrise or sunset, where the sight of rays of light clearing away the darkness would have no meaning? And then remember that things are treasured to the extent that they can be taken away from us.

Would we value freedom as much if we did not have to defend it? Would we hold it as dear if we did not fear that it would be taken away? Would we even be aware of what freedom is and what a free people must be if not for the dark hand of those who wish to strip us of those freedoms?

It is the left's opposition that has added urgency to a hundred issues, from the national debt to the War on Terror to freedom of speech and of religion. It has made us think about those issues, to take them out of the back of our minds and hold them up to the light as a reminder of how important they are and what must be done about them.

The left's corruptions remind us of the need for purification. As it gathers the worst of all around it, we find ourselves called to be better than we are. As the left works to doom our country, and as we suffer defeat after defeat, these defeats only serve to remind us that we must be better, that we must do more, learn more and become more in order to save our country.

War is the great teacher and this is a political war, short on bodies and heavy on minds, it is a war in which casualties are not taken in the chest or the arm, but in the mind, in reason and emotion, and against these weaknesses, we can and will prevail.

As we fight the left, we become stronger, more dedicated and more purposeful. We become the men and women that we were meant to be.

As you sit around your tables, thinking of all that you have gained and lost this year, remember and be thankful for the left, for though the winter ice gives way to the summer sun and bitter defeat gives way to sweet victory, it is defeat and hardship that teaches better than comfort and ease. We can learn more from our defeats than we ever could from our victories. Our defeats teach us endurance and fortitude, they teach us that defeat can be borne and that its sting can be turned into the weapon that unseats the foe. And our foes make us who we are.

Their evil teaches us to find the good within ourselves. Their strength teaches us to find our own strength. And their plots against what we have teach us how many treasures we have, not least of these being the full value of our freedom and our happiness that they wish to take from us.

Their war on America is teaching us to be better Americans. It may not feel that way right now, but we are privileged to have this opportunity and this fight. 

We should be thankful for the left, its assaults on us are teaching us how to fight and its plots against our freedom are teaching us how to be free.

27 comments:

Dave said...

Who....in their right mind..... can argue with that very classical stoicism essay ?
You Sir are the modern Epictetus explaining the viciousness of moral corruption.
The battle we are confounded by is nothing less than the ages old brawl between darkness and light, good versus evil, God vs the fallen one. Something inherent in nearly all good literature. May your words enlighten many, nae, millions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder that even in the darkest of times this evil can be confronted and pushed back. For fifty years I have watched the left push our society in a downward spiral further and further into cultural degradation that has destroyed entire segments of it. Implicit in your words is the truth that evil always overreaches and in that act of overreaching creates the opposing forces that will defeat it. Perhaps, just perhaps, we have finally reached the point where the bare, malevolent face of evil, not just in America but throughout the world, has become so apparent that the forces necessary to defeat it will arise. Hopefully in the future "The Obama Years" will become a cautionary tale that will guide America back to the place where she will again become the "Shining City" that Ronald Reagan described so eloquently in his farewell address to the nation.

Naresh Krishnamoorti said...

St. Augustine wrote that "God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this essay. I am reminded of what Saint Exupery says at the end of "Flight to Arras" that the defeated have no more right to speak than has the seed.
The left thinks it has triumphed but we must be as seeds.
Dave S

meema said...

Guilty as charged. I am indeed resolved to the reality that this civilization has reached the tipping point that most great societies have succumbed to, historically speaking. It seems that prosperity becomes toxic as it ages and causes blindness. Not unlike any good thing that eventually spoils unless great care to preserve it has been applied.

So, while it is encouraging to speak about what could be... if only... what actually is falls well within the patterns of what has been. At the point of no return, the only hope is not hope in restoration but hope in the Divine Will that good has already won the war. It’s in the battles that have yet to be fought where mettle is rises to the challenge. The small battles and skirmishes with evil are often lost in the great ongoing war of good and evil But faith cannot be destroyed in those who understand that it is often in the losses where we find our peace and resolve.

To say that resolve is a form of acceptance of defeat does not address the strength of those who have seen the enemy and recognized that the enemy is us and have determined that the only way to find peace is in allowing peace to find us in the truth of what is happening in real time. Relief in the middle of adversity is within the silent comfort of faith. Faith does not change our circumstances but rather our attitude and how we operate within those circumstances. Are we paralyzed by fear or mobilized by bravery? Are we solution-oriented or defeatist? Are we victims without recourse? Or do we stand up for something higher and determine that it is better striving for right than living tyrannized by evil? Even if sometimes we die in the standing?

Ultimately, faith is the antidote to fear. But faith is not myopic; it is founded in knowing the difficult truth first.

Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great things, and difficult, which thou knowest not. -Jeremiah 33:3

Happy Thanksgiving - there is much to be thankful for in spite of what is plainly true.

Stephen Rittenberg said...

Great and stirring essay. ChurchillIan magnificence. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving

careyrowland said...

Well this is refreshing pause for perspective. Thank you, Daniel. Although my assessments of left/right are not generally as dualistic as yours, I always greatly appreciate your insights.
Since I am centrist, please allow these two thoughts about "left":
~ The left is, after all analysis is done, still a vast collection of individuals, not a monolithic entity. Within their ranks are varying shades of the libertarian-to-totalitarian spectrum.
~ Your confrontational style of engagement is a necessary part of what it will take to defeat their agenda. Nevertheless, my personal style revolves more around converting them to conservative appreciations, rather than opposing "them" at every turn.
We are stuck, after all, in a left-leaning America, where the NewDealers/GreatSocietyers have produced over several generations impressive victories, some of which we will never dismantle completely.
So the game has to move, at certain strategic points, toward compromise in some matters of love and war. And I believe this battle can be waged from our right flank without sacrificing truth.
Thank you, Daniel.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

I appreciate what you are saying to a point but what is your feelings about an actual shooting war? Do you really believe it is a blessing to have the Left if it comes to great violence? I do believe the violence itself would be a blessing. America was born after a war with Britain. The difference between those two antagonists was far less than between Left and Right. Yet neither American nor English would disagree that a great country was born from it.

The question is not whether to have a foe in the war of ideas is good but whether to fight the foe period. With Jihad in the mix what other choice will there be?

Anonymous said...

I love you baby. You are my favorite political writer, BUT I cannot see how we are going to vote our way out of this mess. The people gaming the system now out number the folks paying the bills. Not sure why we allow people to vote for the leader of the free world who have failed in their personal life and require government assistance to survive. HP, Exxon and Apple do not let welfare recipients for their CEO and I suggest that if they did they would also FAIL.
clint@gvtc.com

Douglas J. Bender said...

Yesterday (Wednesday, November 26th -- the day this article was posted and perhaps written), around 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon, I took part in the battle between good and evil. I was at a checkout lane at the "Lowe's" home-improvement store on US 33 in the Goshen, Indiana area, when I saw a black man carrying two framing nail-guns in their plastic cases towards the exit in front of me. I then saw the Manager following him quickly, and yelling at him to stop. It was then that I realized that I was witnessing a robbery in progress, and I yelled at the black man (a very generic, "Hey!! HEY!!", but at least it was something). He began running for the exit, and I began pursuing him. (He had an advantage over me, as he had a head-start; and he had on tennis-shoes, while I was wearing work-boots.) He ran almost the full length of the (large) parking lot, to a white 4-door newer-model pickup truck, and jumped into the passenger side, while a black woman sat behind the wheel, waiting for him to enter. I just managed to get there in time to memorize the license-plate number, before they squealed out of the parking lot, and off they went down the road.

I like to think I was like "Batman", before he worked himself into super-athletic shape, and without the cool superhero outfit.

Y. Ben-David said...

I wish I could be as optimistic as you are, but, unfortunately, I can't. Churchill was a great leader, Britain through a supreme effort won two World Wars but where are they today, in spite of this. Their twice defeated enemy, Germany is way ahead of them today, although they are also in long term decline.
The problem is not political, it is cultural and social, and, in the end, a question of values. In Charles Murray's highly recommended book, "Coming Apart" he points out that the Founding Fathers made it very clear that it was not enough to have a good Constitutional system, which they created. The people had to be self controlled, outside of the legal sphere, or the whole thing would collapse in the end. The great American values of self-reliance, innovation, community welfare and, very importantly, religious belief in the sense of character and interpersonal relationship, and not merely personal spiritual exaltation, are VITAL for the continued prosperity, yet we see they are largely being dumped in the garbage heap. The Left believes that it is enough to have the right laws, and by outlawing freedom of thought in the name of preventing "hate speech" we can eventually force everyone to think the "right thoughts" instead of the classic American free-market of ideas.
I weep for America, and I believe Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Daniel Webster, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt would do the same if they saw what their country has become.

Earlybird said...

Thank you Daniel.
"He that struggles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." ~ Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Anonymous said...

This ranks among your best. Great ideas, well expressed. Thank you.

-- Lightbringer

Anonymous said...

I suspect the reciprocal is truer, the left ought to be thankful for the right; they have been feasting on us for 10 decades.

I'm not on board that the good needs the evil. Quite the opposite actually, and the more that the good begin to withdraw and refuse to feed the beast, the more evident that will become.

I'm betting that we are way out of equilibrium; that something has already snapped and we'll lurch toward something else. I just don't see enough appetite out there for a return to the enlightenment ideas.

I guess I'm a premier example of what's in your cross-hairs. djr

Marylou's America said...

Excellent, Daniel! Whatever other Thanksgiving articles I have read so far this year pale in comparison. Your essay: Credited and linked to my blog -- and it was hard deciding on pullquotes. That glass of wine: Back into the bottle until needed for a REAL celebration, which I hope and pray comes soon. Thanks for the glass of real hope instead!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

djr, without evil to resist, good all too often fades away, fragments and becomes evil. But the equilibrium has indeed come apart.

Marylou, Lightbringer, Earlybird, thank you

Ben-David, Washington and Jefferson, etc faced their own battles that caused them to despair at times

Just a common 'tater said...

Well written, and with a different view of what we usually think we should be giving thanks for. I think the reciprocal point of view is just as valid. The left should be giving thanks for the right, or the liberals should give thanks for the conservatives. If not for those like Washington & Churchill, the left would not have the freedom to spout and spread their half-baked and unrealistic utopian horse hockey. They would be living the reality of Stalin and Mao purges and wake up in some hell-hole gulag/re-education camp or in front of a firing squad for questioning anything or simply because the enlightened one on the top of the poop pile didn't like something anymore. Millions (and I do mean millions) of the West's best men (and some women, too) died for the freedom of these ungrateful, intellectually challenged, and morally bankrupt bottom feeders to not only believe their drivel, but to actually preach it and to try to enact it.

From my point of view (and one that was rejected for service), we lost this struggle when among other things, we stopped the draft. Those that went through the mandatory service learned a lot more than how to shoot or march. They learned that as you pointed out above, we need challenges in life, and life is a lot of hard work. Lastly, they learned freedom really is not free.

Thank you for letting me vent. I hope that you had a Happy and Joyful Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

I needed this. Thank you Mr. Greenfield. I don't know if you're being unrealistically optimistic. But how can one argue against hope?

Paridell said...

Steady on, Daniel. "Where we are, compared to 100 percent of the rest of the world, still free," indeed!

100% of the rest of the world includes all of America's allies: the UK, Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan and all the others. I realise it's Thanksgiving and all that in the States, so some licence may be allowed. And I hope that is the explanation for your remarks. I would hate to imagine that you actually believe that only America is really free!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

There's no such thing as absolute freedom, but I have trouble coming up with any country that has comparable freedom of speech to that of the United States.

Canada, Australia, Israel and Japan certainly don't.

Douglas J. Bender said...

Mr. Greenfield, if you would like to begin referring to me as "Batman", I wouldn't mind.

Chuck said...

I've benefitted from many of your columns, Daniel, but this one is pure gibberish. It may work as a way to rouse the discouraged into gathering their strength to resist whatever evil is at hand – if they can ignore its absence of logic, but if taken literally it boils down to equating darkness and light, evil and good. "Necessary evil" ("We need evil to remind us of the good that we are capable of") is and will remain a contradiction of terms no matter how poetically expressed.

Some people dream of a next life in which evil is extinguished, but then, if this column is taken seriously, how bereft of meaning those allegedly eternal lives will be with nothing against which to sharpen one’s defenses and contrast one’s values. You may say that the absence of evil will obviate such needs. Precisely so. And it would be the case here in this life on earth as well.

But if it’s in some sense good that destructive sociopolitical systems exist, our efforts to defeat or convert their adherents are clearly wrongheaded. And why stop there? Here, let me get you started. Thank you, rapists. Thanks, murderers. Much obliged, arsonists. Don’t know what we’d do without you. Especially you suicide bombers and all those planning chemical, biological, and nuclear mass destruction. Thanks so much for the countless opportunities we’ll have to sharpen our arguments and clarify our values, because that’s what really matters isn’t it? Having the moral high ground. Winning the argument. If bodies have to be blown apart or burned up or poisoned, well, just think, those of us remaining will get to say we told you so.

Is crime, large and small, really so bad if it has such a splendid silver lining for which we ought to be grateful? It seems to me that this column is an example of the moral confusion of religious world views – it apparently is not really the well-being of mankind that matters, it’s that we’re down with the struggle. We’re earning our bonafides under a spiritual imperative to adopt attitudes that increase our vulnerability to evil and elevate it to a necessity so we can showcase our piety.

In short, if we actually accept the position expressed in this column, we will be grateful for evil and call it good. Of course, Daniel, that isn’t what you meant, but it is, in essence, what you said. Such a message is best delivered from a podium at a rally where the purpose is to energize and inspire – with the fervent hope that no one will think too deeply about it when they get home.

Paridell said...

Were you speaking only of freedom of speech, then? It did not appear so. In any case, there are various types of freedom. The U.S. has Constitutional guarantees of certain rights which Americans cherish as freedom, and good luck to them. But from the point of view of the rest of the English-speaking world, America is also the fount and origin of every form of political correctness, which radiates out across the world like an Anglo-Saxon form of the French 'rayonnement'. American conservatives complain all the time about the loss of freedom in the U.S. media, in the universities, and in public life. From that point of view, the U.S. hardly looks the exemplar of freedom that it once undoubtedly was. We in Australia can still do many things that Americans assure us they can no longer do - for example, we can still say 'Happy Christmas' to all and sundry at Christmas time, with no offence given and none taken.

Other countries have gone down different paths from the U.S., but just because they don't have the U.S. Constitution doesn't mean they're less free. If Churchill were still with us, he would no doubt make the same point about the British Lion and its cubs, though not perhaps on U.S. soil.

papundits said...

Beautifully stated!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Douglas, either that or Kramer

Chuck, I don't claim any knowledge about the nature of the afterlife, but in this world, values are often defined by contrasts.

That doesn't mean that evil should be maintained or that we should confuse it with good. Precisely the opposite. We must recognize it for what it is in order to be good. Fighting evil reminds us of what our values are.

Paridell, personally I think freedom of speech is the most important freedom. Without it there is no real freedom.

Americans can say Merry Christmas. And frequently do. Meanwhile in Australia basic freedom of speech has been squashed by racial vilification laws that Abbot has retreated from undoing.

Douglas J. Bender said...

Daniel,

"Douglas, either that or Kramer."

Who is this "Kramer" you mention? He sounds positively heroic. :)

Darren Wolfe said...

Yes, I'm sure that right wing pundits riding the media gravy train are grateful for the left wing boogie men they use to scare people with. Just like left wing pundits riding the media gravy train are grateful for the right wing boogie men they use to scare people with. Each side adds their part of the progressive, big govt agenda to the destruction of our rights. A regular 2 ring circus.

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