Dissent is power, for with conformity comes powerlessness. Powerlessness to act or speak, or even think, for oneself in order to get more or different results from life than society thinks appropriate. With dissent comes the opportunity to have something of one’s own that is different or better than what society thinks appropriate. Though people would deny it at first, the truth is that even this opportunity is not the greatest benefit of dissent. The greatest benefit of dissent is that it enables the soul to open itself up to risks that qualify the person for nobility, honor, greatness, and true manhood.
The greatest element of life is this opportunity to be more than simply a material being chasing after its daily rations from one’s master – whether that master be another slave, a business, a political establishment, or society at large. The greatest part of life as a man is to ascend to the heights to which Jesus has told us we are capable of attaining. The elements of the divine that intermingle with the ordinary course of our lives can be celebrated, separated, integrated, elevated so as to empower us to be more like God in His communicable attributes of truth, power, love, holiness, patience, peace, and so on.
Every hero and great leader has surpassed the ordinary in favor of the extraordinary. I need not deny myself the ordinary necessities of life in order to do this. However, one must go beyond these. If they had been enough for a man God would have left Adam alone in the garden with his land to till and animals to shepherd. Instead, Adam required communion with the Divine and fellowship with a person after his heart. He needed someone to fight for, to woo, to embrace, to weep for. And from their union came sons and daughters, grandchildren and posterity without number, with whom Adam could share his love, his wisdom, his wealth, his presence. People for whom to sacrifice, to labor, to give; with whom to rejoice, to love, to laugh, to live.
Man requires a higher purpose than a paycheck. And not even the love of another may satisfy his soul. He is born not to loaf, but to risk harm and win rewards. The truest measure of a man is his willingness to risk harm to himself and what he possesses in the service of a truly worthy cause greater than himself. Without this willingness to risk, he is a mere accountant, hoarder, slug, or dilettante. Whether he have much or nothing at all, his unwillingness to serve a God larger than him, expressed through work in one of God’s particular vocations such as war or ministry, indicates that the being is not a man at all but a mere compilation of atoms embarked on an utterly meaningless lifespan, doomed to an eternal inferno.
Dissent enables a man to avoid the broad road, the trap into which most of mankind has stuck their feet, only to discover that it has no ‘off’ button or release switch. Dissent restores power to a man’s mind and tongue, the beginning point for any revolution and the cradle of all great achievements. Dissent takes power back from the mob – that nary-do-well pack of bandits to whom we unconsciously bear allegiance from the womb – and flips the bird to the media, political and financial establishments, and cultural institutions that have degraded us and derided us into a state of infantile submission to the faceless, nameless, automaton society.
In order for a man to dissent, he must agree to society’s terms. Not all of them, for sure. But he must recognize that the terms by which society puts its members to death for dissent are, in fact, real. They are serious. Society means business, and it intends to keep its business running smoothly. After all, it has monopolistic control over the fate of men, and that is not a power to lightly give away. Society – both in the mob and in the persons of the corporations and individuals who guide the mob on its way – cherishes, relishes, and thinks its power of social ostracism inseparable from its existence. It cannot fathom the thought of not enjoying, and exercising at its whim, capital punishment against the name and person of a man who dissents from its charted course. Be it exclusion from polite society, ordinary social groups like churches and community organizations, or even the family dinner table, society will punish its wayward members upon pains of social death. It will bar him from employment, smear his reputation in personal and professional circles, politically turn him into a football suitable for kicking, and make the scapegoat wander into the desert to bear the guilt of the sins which he, by the act of his dissension from the group norm, has brought upon himself. And society will lay its hands on his neck and slay him in an act of self-righteous pseudo-atonement, making the dissenter pay the price for his sin in the name of their god, while his blood cries out to Heaven for vengeance.
The mob that makes up visible society is a harlot, but its shepherds are truly the beast that rides upon the harlot. They are the ones that manipulate and distract these puppets into submission to a plainly insane and wicked world, which they cannot recognize for lack of vision and spirit. They have vanquished their spirits and blinded their eyes through lifetimes of submission to their shepherds’ decrees. Woe to those who imitate their ways, for swift is the fall and long is the drop to those who think they can dip their toes in the pools of demons without getting their whole bodies wet.
The power of social influence is profound. It shapes the way we think and speak even alone, behind locked doors, in the darkest hours of the night. Did not the disciples thus fear the power of the Jewish conspiracy?
To break out of its chains one must be willing to suffer social punishment. In order to do that one must despise the judge, the jury, and the executioners – which in this case are one and the same: society. This does not mean to hate them, for Christ teaches us not to hate our enemies but instead to pray for them and do them good. But it does require us to first recognize, and openly state when appropriate, the moral inferiority of our enemies and our enemies’ god. It requires us to assert our moral supremacy and the supremacy, and sole sovereignty, of our God.
Which brings us to the most important and critical requirement of dissent: love for God. One must truly love something in order to suffer for it. Whether the love of money for which we labor, the love of a woman or family for which we labor, or the love of God for whom we suffer ridicule, it is love which comes first in the chain of events. Without love, all one has to look forward to is punishment and suffering, and that is not enough incentive to dissent even for a willing martyr. Yes, we must disdain their lies and condemn their cruelty. But without the reverse – love of truth and the righteousness that comes from and subsists in God – our spiritual bellies will go forever hungry. Devoid of poison, yes; full of real food, no. It is not just the excision of the tumor that makes the cancer patient healthy; it is the renewal of his life-giving, vital systems. Like Christ said, new wine for new wine bottles. So the dissenter must have the fresh, new wine of the Spirit – truth — in his new wine bottle in order to sustain him during the long desert march of social punishment.
Can anything else sustain him during his suffering? Can his suffering be avoided? In a better, more enlightened age, yes. The system itself, the society and its leaders, would be different. There have been such ages in the past, and there well may be more to come in the future. But this present age is a new and real dark age, an age darker than that our enemies allege we foisted upon the world. I need not write about this age, for its folly and its iniquity is all too easily observed.
Christ said to count the cost of discipleship before beginning. He was and still is right. We must consider what we will have to sacrifice in order to prove ourselves faithful to Him and worthy of the crown of eternal life. He has already paid the full price for our salvation; yet it is ours to forfeit by treason to Him, our one and only Heavenly King.
Let us not begin to build a tower and then leave it half completed. Let us not be foolish like the king who assayed to go against another, but found that he had half the numbers of his opponent on the field of battle. Let us consider the cost and strike a bargain with those too strong for us, before launching out on a career, a lifetime, an eternity, of dissent with this present society. But let us not question for a second our decision to launch out. Timing is one thing; acting is the other. Let the cost not dissuade the open-eyed as to the necessity, and opportunity, of dissent. Our souls await it; our hopes lie upon it; our God demands it as the price of admission to His Kingdom. So let us go. Amen.