Majority Rule and Personal Beliefs
David W. Hegg
As school children, we all learned the vital importance of democratic governance. Back in the day we memorized Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, with its iconic declaration that our government is “of the people, by the people and for the people.” And we learned the foundational principle of majority rule.
But, back then, we could never imagine that democracy as a political governing mechanism would push past its legislative guardrails. We had no idea that, one day, the voice of the majority would morph into a crushing peer pressure, and demand that those of us holding to traditional values and religious convictions change or suffer grave consequences.
As a Christian ethicist, I find the idea, that some group with its own socio-political agenda believes it is both right and best to determine my personal values and ethical position, to be arrogant, foolish, and ultimately anti-democratic. To insist that my views on life, gender, sexuality, marriage, and a host of other issues have no place in this society is also to forget that the Bill of Rights was crafted for just this purpose: to protect the individual citizen’s rights and beliefs from a monarchial governing power.
Democracy, as a legislative mechanism, is meant to provide an arena in which those who differ can be protected equally by the law. It was never meant to determine how those in the arena must think, but only how they must behave. Laws protect acceptable patterns of behavior against those who would behave in a manner that is destructive to society. And it is these laws that are to be enacted legislatively, through majority affirmation.
But what we are seeing today is tyrannical power, not in legislative overreach for the most part – although we are seeing this in embryonic form – but in a far more sinister form of governance. We are seeing societal group-think, fueled by a robust desire to eliminate every ideology that conflicts with it, making war on those who dare stand up to this new wave of post-modern thought.
Post-modernity has two essential beliefs. First, there is no such thing as absolute truth, and anyone who claims to have it is a judgmental, bigoted, and dangerous person attempting to subjugate others. Second, given there is no absolute truth, everyone is free from all restraints, including ethical, moral standards of all kinds. Taken together, these two core convictions produce an ethical philosophy that is, at the same time, unassailable, and self-defeating. It is unassailable simply because those who hold it cannot be critiqued or defeated by opposing arguments because they are truth unto themselves. But it is self-defeating because it grounds itself in the self-defeating, absurd notion that they are absolutely sure there is no absolute truth.
Yet, it is pervasive. More and more we are hesitant to express our beliefs, our values, our opinions, and our convictions. Why? Because once public opinion opens fire on us, we realize our ability to enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” will be greatly hindered. And while the thought police wave the banner of tolerance when it suits them, they have no tolerance for dissent from those who actually think, reason, and provide substantive arguments for their positions.
When our founding fathers created the grand American experiment, they put many safeguards in place. They mandated a separation of powers, crafted regulations for the fair representation of the people, and wrote the all-important Bill of Rights. But, by their own admission, they knew government so dependent on its citizens, could not long endure unless the citizenry were knowledgeable, honest, and ethical.
Unfortunately, in just the last 5 years we have seen more degrading of our national ethic than ever before. The loss of absolute truth has us being told there are over 70 genders, that sexual reassignment surgery can override one’s DNA, that same-sex marriage poses no threat to our society, and that those who believe in traditional family values are the problem.
At what point do we quit quaking in our shoes, afraid of the thought police, and say the post-modern emperors have no clothes? At what point do we start responding robustly to the sheer absurdity of it all?
Perhaps we’re there. Perhaps 14 minutes of automatic rifle fire from a 32nd floor Las Vegas hotel room will shake us and wake us. Perhaps the scenes of death and agony will remind us we have a country to protect. Perhaps, rather than chalk it up to differences about gun control or issues of mental health we will realize our nation is heading in the wrong direction morally, and ethically. Perhaps it is time for the honest, morally-upright, yet silent majority in America to make their voices heard. Perhaps. I certainly hope so.