I have a good friend from the Czech Republic whom I met while I was a graduate student. His family were devout Catholics and his parents lived through the time when committed Christians there were severely persecuted for their faith, because of the hatred of the Church on the part of the ruling Communist Party. Faith in God and the dignity of the human person were simply not compatible with Communism. So they had trouble getting decent jobs and made many other sacrifices to continue living for Christ.
But not all of their fellow citizens were so committed. Many wanted to “go along to get along.” Not Vaclav Havel. He was a famous Czech playwright and dissident who refused to go along with the Communist ideology. When the Czech Republic eventually became free of Communist rule, he became president of that free nation. He wrote famously about a fictional character, an “average joe,” a greengrocer, who pretended to support the Party even though he didn’t really believe in their ideals. Still, he went along. The required obedience to the authority of the Communist regime at that time then consisted of displaying their propaganda in store windows, especially the Marxist slogan, “Workers of the World Unite!”
Here’s what I have had to say about that fictional fellow.
He places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: ‘Workers of the world, unite!’” He does it not because he agrees with the slogan but “simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble…he does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life” The message isn’t directed to his customers, or to Czechoslovakians more generally. It is directed above, to his party bosses. The message is: “I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace”. This is not the greengrocer speaking with his own voice, he is not saying things he means or really wants to say. He is “living within a lie” (The greengrocer lives within the lie, doing what must be done without thinking. He becomes, …[so] complete [a] part of the lie that he no longer knows it is there. Havel further warns this is easier than we think, to settle for living within the lie…to merge with the anonymous crowd and flow comfortably along with it “down the river of pseudo-life”
Powerful stuff! There is a relatively happy ending to Havel’s story. Eventually in the Communist nations people overcame their “go along to get along” attitude to stand up to overthrow the anti-Christian regimes and live in freedom. (President Reagan and Pope St. John Paul II were instrumental in these efforts, but that’s a column for another day). I couldn’t help but thing about this story when I heard recently found out that the agenda to reject the core Christian notions of marriage and God’s creation of mankind as male and female is beginning to hit very close to home. The Village of New Richmond is allowing a so-called “LGBT Pride” weekend to occur on Front Street this weekend, right in the heart of the shopping district. I am still working to find out who is sponsoring this. I believe that it is one of the local pubs, but there may be others as well.
There are many interesting parallels between this so-called LGBT “Pride” movement and Communism. In the case of Communism, the revolutionaries promoting it claimed it was about equality of all peoples and workers. In practice, it quickly morphed into the oppression of those who disagreed with their ideology and the privileging of Party members. In many cases, to preserve the regime, social punishments were severe and in many cases imprisonment and even violence were meted out to those who resisted. In the “LGBT” movement promoted by the powerful (large corporations, one of the major political parties in our country and so on), the initial claim was that proponents were just seeking “tolerance” for those who were discriminated against. However, this quickly morphed into attempts to censor those who disagreed with them, pressuring those who do not affirm sexual sins to lose their jobs, hounding the “non-believers” with social media campaigns and so on. Those in most of corporate America who do not accept homosexual “marriage” are essentially shunned and prevented from advancing if they are “too vocal.” We are beginning to see the same thing happen to those who do not “affirm” those who attempt to claim that their “gender” is not what they were born with. As just one of countless examples, a teenage boy in a public school district was charged with sexual harassment because he would not call a boy who thought he was a girl “she.”
Our children are bombarded with these falsehoods at every level of the educational system, and in higher education, it is nearly impossible to succeed if one doesn’t chant the party slogan. How did we get here? Havel’s insights reveal a lot to us. There are many people who simply don’t believe the “LGBT” ideology, especially here in rural Clermont County and especially Christians. As Christians, we accept the biological and religious truth that we are male or female and this is unchangeable. We also hold that, in addition to being ordained by God, it is harmful to society to recognize anything as marriage that is not a true marriage, capable of raising children to know a mother and a father.
And yet, like those Czech citizens under the Iron Curtain, many Christians are afraid to speak out because their opponents are so powerful. They pretend agreements so as to avoid giving offense. Too much is riding on this. Our children and children’s children will suffer immense and perhaps irreparable damage if we do not speak up and stand for the truth.