The following essay I wrote and delivered on one of Tactical Civics’s Sunday conference calls. They always open with a prayer, which I include here.
Dear God, we are gathered in your sight..of course we are never out of your sight, nor do we wish to be. Maybe I should say, we ask Your special attention on our gathering here tonight. We ask that you accept our uncountable gratitude for Your infinite gifts to us, from the food we eat to the air Your Laws of physics push into our lungs aswe breathe, to the benign and beautiful light of that terrifying nuclear furnace that You located the exact correct distance from our little planet.
We cannot really approach any real conception of your power and greatness, nor of your mercies upon us. But if we open our eyes and let ourselves honestly look at it, at the intricate ordering and infinitely complex interrelations of all the parts of Your Creation, at scales from smaller than any microscope can resolve, to vaster than any telescope can reveal, all testifies to it.
And so we would be fools, God, we pray that You will not let us be such fools, as to assume that we do not have just as much of place and role and purpose in Your Creation as the Sun, the salamander, or the sand. And of course, Purpose from Your point of view spells, “DUTY” from ours.
I will not ask for strength…because You already gave us precisely enough strength to do the tasks You have set before us. I will not ask for perception, again for the same reason. You built us exactly right for the tasks You intend us for.
What I do ask for tonight is honesty. It is so easy, so tempting to be dishonest. “I am too busy. I am too old. We are too few. It is too late. I am too weak.” Do we remember when a serpent said, “Ye shall not surely die” God, help us to be honest: to acknowledge and accept the lessons You set before us, in history, in our founding documents, in currrent events all around us, in the words of the people You send across our paths. Help us to be honest, first with ourselves, about our obligations, our duties in Your sight to the worlds and the neighbors You gave us, help us not to focus on whether we can, but on the fact that we must.
Well, the world is looking pretty crazy, depending of course on exactly where you look. I look at the trees and plants putting out their leaves, at the cows enjoying the new grass, at the tadpoles in the pond, at the soft dark soil in the gardens that my sons and I are preparing for the seeds, at the birds carrying worms to their nestlings, at the sun and the rain, and I see the worlds humming along to the music of God’s Laws.
Looking at the human world, not so much. I prayed about honesty, Honesty, that is, the Truth and our willingness to acknowledge it, even where we do not much like it, is our sometimes frail but our only connection,to reality, and therefore to God.] [B]ut I do not see much of it in our human world today. I see rage, eye-bulging, spittle-spraying rage. I see absolute terror. And it is mostly all based on total denial of plain truth in front of the eyes, and on deliberate lies.
We run from our own obvious responsibility to keep our own laws and our own safety and order in our own communities, we refuse the danger that sometimes involves and we reject personal courage as outdated and unnecessary for most of us. We give that responsibility completely over to “professionals”. Then we wonder that they become a closed society of their own, contemptuous of us, and we wonder that they think…they lie to themselves…they think that the Law is not ours, and universal in its application, but their own property and tool just like their guns and billy-clubs. Instead of the obvious but scary truth that somebody is another complicated human being like themselves, they replace his humanity with a label, like “danger to officer safety”, and hammer him down like a nail sticking up out of the floor.
In proper outrage, some of us then lie that force is never needed or justified to preserve life, peace, and safety. We lie that it is force itself that is the source of evil.
Of course, then we are angry at the result, that we ought to have known would come. Some of us lie to ourselves that the failure and loss of respectability of law officers, is a failure of the whole idea of Law. “Throw it out! I’m getting mine!” “Nobody’s watching, anyway” That is the biggest lie so far, isn’t it, God?
We lie to ourselves, some of us, and deny that respect and trust must be earned, we deny that freedom comes from self-control, and we just burn things.
That is just this past week’s news.
Before that, we lied to ourselves and denied that to get old and sick and die is the best any of us can hope for in this world; we lied to ourslves that experts know it all and can give us better advice from two thousand miles away than we can figure out from the facts in front of us; we convenientlyforgot that a billion-dollar system is interested only in protecting itself and not us….we lied about courage again and said, “None of that for me”. We even dragged out that old lie from the nursery, and believed that the bogey-man could not get us if we hid under the covers.
We lied to ourselves that it was okay to let people too big for their britches take away our livelihoods and our worship and our freedom to move around and breathe the fresh air of God’s green earth. We conveniently forgot Stalin and Mao and Hitler…. and Jim Jones, and even George the Third.
Before that plague…. of lies…hit, and now again some of us were lying that safety lies in helplessness, and that evil people will do as they are told. Some of us were lying, that saying, “pretty please” and arguing politely with the schoolyard bully will make him see the light. A few were lying that shooting’em all will bring the peace and freedom and order and relative safety we all desire. Some are still saying that, and more seem to be joining them.
So I have tried to give a very telegraphic recapitualion of the news of the last few months through the lens of the way our social habit of deception, or maybe I should call it our persistent sins of dishonesty and laziness, mess up our world.
The foundational concepts we must not lose are, that Law is real, it is God’s glue that holds the world togather; Of course, God made two kinds of Law, physical laws that hold the stars and planets, the mountains and oceans where they should be, and work all the time, and cannot be broken. Then there is moral law for mankind, that, well, that also cannot in fact be broken. But unlike physical Law God lets us treat His moral Law in different ways: we can choose to love and live by it, or we can choose to forget and ignore and flout it, and by these divergent choices, make our lives and world into something very close to Heaven or very much like Hell.
In the Garden of Eden, God gave our Mother and Father Law, but, but, no police. There was the Law and there were Eve and Adam. Eve had no lawyer to ask how to interpret what God had said, to ask “Did He really mean it that way?”, or, “Can I claim exigent circumstances or historical oppression or emergent need?”. Nor were there cops to come running and wrestle her to the ground, when she got too close to the Tree. Nor did He put a force-field around it, or barbed-wire. Nor did he simply place the lightet touch of His omnipotent finger on her brain, or Adam’s, to tweak their very bad decision the other way.
God, Law, and free human conscience. Oh, yes, let us not forget Consequences. That is the Pattern we were given..
When we get together in societies it gets a little challenging to figure out how to keep to the proper pattern. There will be people who choose to break the law and court the bad consequences. But out of respect for the God-given rights of the law-followers, we want to restrict the bad consequences as far as possible to those who willfully earn them, so we make and enforce human law, conformable to God’s. We recognize that if you put youself outside the restraint of God’s Law you have also put yourself outside its protection, so we can use force agsinst the law-breakers, but if we are, here it comes again, “honest”, we know we are on shaky ground applying even God’s Law to anyone but ourselves, so we properly hedge our use of force against law-breakers around with plenty of restrictions lest we, ourselves, also cross that line.
But the point that I do not want to stray from is that Law is most fundamentally an intimately individual matter, a matter of conscience. It is not fundamentally a corporate matter, a matter for some specialist, not a commodity to be brought in from the lowest bidder.
Most of us know the lesson from the Bible tale of the mugging victim and the Samaritan traveler, but the message that he that is expected to help is the one closest to the one needing help, does not only apply to “humanitarian” or medical aid. Not only did the Samaritan not dial 911 on his cell ‘phone, he did not walk on to the inn before asking them to send someone back after the injured man. He did the service, what in Hebrew would be called, the “mitzvah”, that God set before him to do, and he did it himself.
It is these Godly principles that Our Founders designed into the fundamental Law of our Republic, and it is only the application of them that can pull us back from the abyss that seems to yawn before us.
So let us go back to our first news snippet. If peace and Law in the community where George Floyd was murdered by a gang of hired thugs, sorry, police officers, were kept by its own Constitutional Militia, George would now still be alive, perhaps in jail and perhaps not, but his whole city would not be on fire. Militia is all of us, in practice at least most of us, and if the storekeeper where George may or may not have tried to pass a more bogus-than-usual $20 bill, had recognized that the Law was his property, not something he had to order-in like a pizza, he himself with the help if necessary of another Militia member or two passing by, would have known by the evidence of their own eyes whether there was a problem, and if so stopped it right there.
Militia is the people, the People of the community, not ” professionals” paid well enough that they do not have to live in or come from the communities they are given artificial responsibility for. One of them would have known George and would have said, “Ahh, George don’t you know better than to pass a bad 20”, or maybe, “Aghh, that’s George, his eyes are not so good, probably somebody else gave him that bad 20 and he could not tell it was a bad one”, or even, “He’s been a bad ‘un for a long time, we gotta bust him.” We don’t know. But George’s neighbors did.
Notice that this is not about race. This is about local responsibility, about our own responsibility for our own communities, written into our Constitution…. by dead white guys, of all things.. This is the Law.
And while we are talking about a bogus $20 bill, maybe we should mention in passing, trillions of bogus dollars, by means of which the earned property of millions has been skimmed for over a hundred years. Our good old Constiutution tells us what lawful money is, too, but no professional policemen paid by the counterfeiters or employed by their system are going to go after them.
What about The Virus, our second sample event. When the sheep hear the coyotes, they just stand there. When the deer hear, they run. Whn the farmer hears them, he runs, too, but toward them, with a gun.
It may not be very useful to speculate exactly where the virus came from, but when we heard about it, we waited. We could as individuals have chosen to stay home, to close our own business or keep it open and ask our employees and customers to take precautions…or not. But we waited. We could have taken the numbers we saw in the news and showed them to a smart highschool kid taking statistics and asked, Can these conclusions really be made from these numbers?
But we waited.
I do not know how many governors actually panicked before imposing measures they had no lawful authority to impose, and how many smelled an opportunity for the mother of all control-freak highs. That, too, does not matter much at this point. But if the Law and the security of our communities were in OUR hands, as Constitutional Militia, then the screaming of the little Hitlers would have been merely another data-point for US to use to decide how WE would protect ourselves…NOt a death knell for our economy, or even the end of our kids’ playing with their friends. The hirelings who have decided to leave their consciences in their lockers when they put on their uniforms and simply do what the fellow signing the paychecks tells them to do, could be met politely but firmly at the County line, or at the doors of businesses that choose to continue serving their customers, and reminded of their oaths to the Constitution, and that We, the people are the boss, here.
The guns and the grabbers. The issue that lit a lot of figurative fires before and after the beginning of last year, and is apparently about to light a lot more. Weapons are a fact of life, a chain of historical inventions that will not go back in the box. We are not told what implement Cain used to commit the first murder, but people of ill will, do ill, and good people, good. In every community that does not kill itself off, the good people outnumber the bad, but the gun allows even a smaller or weaker person to defend her or himself against one or more stronger attackers, where that balance of power is locally or temporarily broken.
And balance is the key. The good people must take care that it is never broken: they must never allow the implements of violent self-defense to be monopolized by any segment of society, whether that segment is called Crips, Bloods, Medellin cartel, the State Police or the US Army. Our Founders knew this, too, knew it well. Private ownership and use of weapons was so widely distributed in their frontier society, that they scarcely felt need to address it directly. In fact, they only referred to it indirectly, in the context of the People’s ancient and totally democratic institution of collective self-defense and law-enforcement, the Militia. That is what the Second Amendment is really about. But here is the point. Our modern culture is rotten-through with laziness, cowardice , squeamishnesss, with the kind of inside-out snobbery that hands off all practical concerns to “professionals”. You can name and number the psychological or spiritual diseases as you will. But if these wrong and dangerous attitudes had not mostly captured our culture, “gun-control” in the modern sense would be literally inconceivable. As for us the concept of mobility takes the ubiquitous and unquestioned shape of automobile, or maybe shoes, the shape of peace and safety from violence would be the gun in every closet and on a lot of hips, would be the drills we all participate in on weekends. Somebody take them away from us? What?Why? What are you smoking?
The Law is God’s gift to us, ours to live by AND ours to wield Our lives and communities are His gifts, too and ours to defend, together. That is the at-home message of our Constitution, and the animating spirit of Tactical Civics.
Most of you listening know what comes next.
We begin at the local level, educating and organizing our neighbors until we can restore in our Counties the Contitutional law-enforcement our Founders specified, our Militias and our Grand Juries.
When our state legislatures have seen the end of their monopoly of lawless power, spreading through their states county by county, they eventually will get back to their job of representing us, and will be ready to take back the power Washington DC stole as much from them as from us, by completing the ratification of the original First Article in the Bill of Rights, small congressional districts, so all of our country will have real representation, not just the bloated and decadent centers of power.
Our new representatives will hopefully jump at the chance to pass our Bring Congress Home Act, so they can stay with their families and in their own homes while representing us
And our Indictment Engine will guide the physical power of our Militias and the lawful authority of our Grand Juries, to keep all our representatives on the strait and narrow path of serving us according to our highest Law.
We say that Tactical Civics is comprehensive, as well as peaceful and lawful medicine for our sick Republic. Tonight I have tried to take three ongoing very sore spots in our political and community life and show how our plans can heal them, if enough of us will STAND UP.