Where Do We Start?
There are big, big problems in this world. Those of us who see these problems often fall into the trap of hoping that big solutions will work. That was how it was for me. At the back of my mind, I knew it would not work, but what if…? What if we can get a good President or Prime Minister into office? What if we can pressure our countries’ legislatures into outright banning abortion? And so forth.
Those are tempting ideas indeed. Last year, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) held a leadership race; I participated in it, because there was a good candidate. I thought: here is a chance for us to get a good Prime Minister into office! If only this candidate can win the leadership race; if only the CPC can go on to win the federal election! Then perhaps, we can “fix” Canada from the federal level, from the top down. Those dreams were soon dashed to pieces, as one of the “liberals in conservative-clothing” was elected. The candidate I had rooted for was even thrown out of the party a few months later for “destructive behavior”, that is, for daring to question the actions of his own party.1 So the CPC is done; there is no help for Canada there.
But honestly, could we really expect the government to change?
2020 was the year the true spirit of our government came into focus. Unlawful and deadly COVID measures were implemented all over the country.2 The government forced hundreds and thousands of businesses to close. Anti-lockdown protesters were harassed and scattered by the police.3 Churches were ticketed for not obeying the regulations that hindered their worship services. Pastor James Coates was imprisoned, and the building of his church was forcibly shut down.4 Hospitals turned away those who needed urgent medical care in order to make space for “COVID patients.” Canada mandated quarantine in government facilities for people returning from international travel.5 Even if the government was not criminal before, it is now.
And where is the church? Sure, there are a few who have been courageously defying the COVID measures, and I thank God for them, but where are the others? Why do we not see thousands of churches opening together, thereby refusing to put the government in the place of God? Why do we even see certain Christians and pastors railing against those who are standing up for their, and our, religious freedom? Many churches, who are called to be the light of the world, are now the helpers of darkness.
An evil, broken world and a weak, unrepentant church… was that a recipe for disaster?
The big solutions I had hoped would “fix” my country did not work in the end. It felt like everything was just too broken – the church being silently kidnapped by the state, the government flaunting its newfound powers, the people deceived by illusions of safety proclaimed by “experts”… If top-down approaches do not work, where should we start? Where do we sow the seeds of change?
The Beginning of Real Change
“Where should one begin to set the world aright? With others? Or with oneself?” – Chapter 68, The First Circle, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Real, long-term change could only come if we start with ourselves. I know, I know, that is what a lot of people have been saying, but do you really believe it? I think I didn’t, not until it seemed like everything else was lost. It would be easier to surrender. It would be easier to just stop caring. The truth is often painful, especially when you see so many that are either being deceived, or are willingly ignoring the truth. But still I can refuse to believe in their lies; I can refuse to participate in them.
“What is the most precious thing in the world? Not to participate in injustices. They are stronger than you. They have existed in the past and they will exist in the future. But let them not come about through you.” – Chapter 55, The First Circle, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
And I can help others do the same.
Courage To Not Break
Sometimes I wonder when a sane person would break underneath this barrage of insanity. How much can one take before one crumbles? How long until we surrender and accept the evil like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984, or how long until we are tempted to kill ourselves out of sheer desperation to escape it all, like John Savage in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World?
But that, perhaps, underestimates the power of the human spirit. It is true that most people would break under constant stress, but it is also true that there are some who can survive, and even thrive perhaps, especially when the stress is all mental, like it is now for most of us. I differentiate between mental and physical stress, because if it is mostly mental one can control one’s response, though it is often more terrible than physical stress, but one cannot fully control how one’s body (and mind) react after continued physical stress or even torture.
What is it that enables one to resist? In Solzhenitsyn’s The First Circle, I. Gerasimovich, a “zek” in the sharashka (a scientific or technical institute staffed with zeks – prisoners), was offered a choice at one point: he could choose to work on a new technology with the possibility of regaining his freedom, but the technology would help the Soviets catch more innocent people; or he could refuse, and risk being removed from the fairly comfortable sharashka and sent to the brutal labor camps of the Soviet Union. What was it that empowered Gerasimovich to refuse, and say:
“Putting people in prison is not my field! I don’t set traps for human beings! It’s bad enough that they put us in prison…” – Chapter 79, The First Circle, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
How is it possible to have that kind of resolution and courage, to refuse participating in evil even though it will come at a cost?
The Foundations For Perseverance in The Fight
We must go back to the fundamentals and ask the basic questions: What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to fight for good, for freedom, for justice? Does it even matter if we win or not?
And we must find our answers in the infallible Word of God. We shall see that to fear God is to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13, Proverbs 16:6). It is not a time for us to be passive about the evil around us. And it is never the time to participate in it if we are truly God’s people.
Then perhaps our hearts can echo the words of Aldous Huxley in Brave New World Revisited, where he, after laying out many big problems and after drawing very bleak conclusions, says that:
“Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them.” – Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley
“Whatever we can.” Huxley was not a Christian, and he did not have the hope that we do. Therefore, do we not have even more reason to keep up the good fight?
The future may look grim; unsurmountable obstacles may present themselves to us. But it does not negate our duty, no – privilege! Is it not our privilege to fight the good fight for the Lord Jesus Christ? And do we not have the hope that Christ has already overcome the world?
“The one perfectly divine thing, the one glimpse of God’s paradise given on earth, is to fight a losing battle – and not lose it.” ― G.K. Chesterton
This post was a guest article written by Tiffany Chan. Tiffany Chan is a Christian who lives each day marveling at God’s beautiful gift of Life and at the goodness of God amidst this dark world. A homeschool graduate, she spends time reading about history, law, and politics, though she also loves a good novel. She enjoys the great outdoors as well, and loves working with animals. Tiffany lives with her amazing family in Ontario, Canada.
Visit her family’s website at: https://www.littleapplesofgold.com/