A Modern Cowardice

It has always been a consideration of mine, along with many like-minded people of our generation, to abandon the word Christianity in its entirety in favor of a less trouble-laden word (of which no one has come up with a quite sufficient replacement, which might be why few have travelled the full road). However, two occurrences in the past week have led me to disavow this thought as a sort of modern cowardice.

The first happening involved me in my typical fashion of getting myself lost in order to find the way to the public library (as I can’t seem to find my way anywhere lest I get myself turned around first). It just so happened Obama was having a rally downtown while I was wandering the labyrinth of streets to find my minotaur. Having no better plans, I decided to stay and listen, as there is rarely a better entertainment than a political speech. I was, of course, not disappointed. In fact, I was quite horrified (and as such, raucously entertained) by one of his statements. On the subject of taxes and wealth redistribution, Obama claim “McCain calls this socialism. I call it opportunity.” To which I started coughing, trying to rid my throat of such poison, in case it was bouncing in the air with the echoes.

For truly, what is more Orwellian than to call an apple an orange because some people don’t like apple pie. It is quite one thing to be for the redistribution of wealth – there are boat-loads of quite smart people in favor of the policy. But it is nothing but cowardice to refuse to call it by its name: socialism. To, on top of that, instead call it a completely unrelated term, as if an abstract noun could somehow distract from reality, is not only cowardly, but a scurrilous dishonesty. It admits, not only that the word involved has some sort of bad connotation to people in general (deserved or not), but also that, since speaking truthfully cannot gain followers, one will simply shoot fireworks and paint pretty pictures to distract from reality in order to win.

This was doubly impressed onto me that night when, while downtown, a skin-head group played a show next door. My friend, who had wandered outside, was listening to the group when, post-song, they proclaimed that not only did Des Moines contain such a great following of music, but also a grand following of skin-heads. To which, in military fashion, the crowd saluted the singer. My friend was naturally horrified, and quickly fled the scene to impart what had just occurred twenty feet away to us.

It was only later, after we had discussed how disgusted we were, that an explanation was given to us: that skin-head has two meanings. One is the traditional meaning, that has no racist undertones (and in fact, the supporters of which were on of the first proponents of reggae and integration), of which this band its fans were contained in; and the other the Neo-Nazi sense we have come to identify with the term. And it occurred to me then the absolute bravery that it must take to ignore the common misconception of such a term, and instead grasp onto tradition and hold it tightly lest it fly away like a firefly trapped in your hands. It was my ignorance, not theirs, that caused me to immediately discount the people as racists. They treated the word and its history with such respect that they chose to keep the term and toss away the rest of society, to hell with connotation. If the world chooses not to understand, it is their choice, for to fight for your title is akin to fighting for your country: if you have true pride, you will not run away. If your country is not worth fighting for, only then should you abandon it. A defense of what you believe in, whether country, family, or thought, is always justified.

So why is it that a small group of people, whose names are likened to racists, refuse to budge on language, while such an educated man like Obama is willing to toss meaning to the wind? Where is the conviction to stand by a belief, as a soldier stands beside his brothers-in-arms? The modern man is so quick to throw away the word and keep the meaning, yet this does nothing to defend himself from his detractors. It is a cowardly retreat in an attempt to survive a losing war, and then pretending as if the retreat is a victory. Pride in cowardice on top of the cowardice.

So no, I will no longer consider throwing the word Christian to the lions. I will instead go like Daniel to the lions den myself, and should I be of God, he will send an angel to shut the lions mouths. I will not let the ignorance of others cause me to slink into the shadows, nor will I try and slide my thoughts past people by using a prettier form, like perfume to cover a rawer smell. There is a word which once meant what I believe it to mean, and forever I will call any derivation of it heresy, as I would hope they would ever defend it as orthodoxy. Now is not the time to be a coward with words.

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