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  • Godwin Cotter

In a time before this comic book, before The Rise of Nothing, Vaclav Havel wrote his book, The Power of the Powerless. In it Havel recounts a modern parable about a grocer in Communist Czechoslovakia. The grocer would dutifully display a poster in his shop window: "Workers of the World, Unite!" Havel notes that if the grocer put a poster on the wall proclaiming, "I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient" it would far more honest. However, it would also be embarrassing to both the compliant grocer and the bullying state. So both parties came to an unspoken agreement to hide the subtexts of threats of violence and agreement to have your freedoms trampled on to save your position.

The wind nowadays seems to be blowing in the same direction as the chill winds behind the iron curtain. While we're not seeing "Workers of the World, Unite" nowadays, people in academia and other professions are being asked to prove that they have been sufficiently ideologically colonized by the czars of wokeness and the emboldened middle management Mussolinis. Jordan Peterson, Lindsay Shepherd, Josh Alexander, and an anonymous cloud of witnesses have suffered discipline for what amounts to free speech and fair comment. Rafael Zaki, lost years of his life trying to get back into a Manitoba med school after being kicked out for expressing a pro-life view on his personal Facebook account. Our new set of gatekeepers seems intent on sifting out the wheat and letting the chaff through.

One might wonder, where is God in all this, while we as a society rush headlong to systematically dismantle some of our most basic freedoms? Why won't He stop us?

From history, we know societies embracing false gods in the form of ideologies are in trouble. The outcomes will be bad for the righteous and unrighteous alike. We may think we are safe if we join the winning side, but that is short-lived. The toadies' compliance and moral compromise often merely purchase a brief delay of execution. They are given the gift that the Cyclops promises Odysseus, "My present to you is I will eat you last." Thomas Cromwell never faltered in carrying out King Henry VIII's wishes, even when such wishes conflicted with God's decrees. Thomas More went to the tower for not doing the same. While a prisoner in the infamous tower of London, More was described as the freest man in England. More was beheaded in 1535 with Cromwell assisting with the paperwork, A new lackey of Henry VIII provided the legal paperwork when Cromwell was subsequently beheaded in 1540. Stalin's great purge of 1936 to 1938 saw one-third of the Communist Party sent to prison camps or executed following show trials and confessions extracted by torture. In 1893, Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud ruefully lamented "The revolution devours its own children" as he was being led to his appointment with Madame Guillotine,

The compliant will have to continue to be so for the duration of their existence. They will have to dance whenever the "dance, monkey, dance" command is given. They will need to blind their minds to the obvious when the obvious becomes verboten. But those who comply with their consciences rather than tyrannies, experience a deeper freedom, a freedom that may eventually emancipate their fellows. It appeared that Vaclav went from a prison cell to the presidency. But what really ended up happening was that Czechoslovakia went from a gigantic prison cell to a country where each citizen became the president of his or her own life. Vaclav Havel speaking the truth slowly regained freedom of speech for his compatriots. Failure to speak up against untruth does the opposite. Courage, the signal virtue, does win out eventually. A society with a forced unity of compelled virtue signaling eventually becomes unglued. Eventually, reality conquers rhetoric.

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