How Much are You Willing to Sacrifice, or Where is Your Red Line?

 

Several months ago, I wrote about a profound blessing I experienced: I chose a Hebrew name, since I couldn’t remember the Hebrew name I was given as a child. (This method is acceptable under Jewish law.) At the suggestion of a friend, I chose the name of a woman I admired, Ruth, from the Bible, who was a convert to Judaism, and through circumstances, left the land of Moab to accompany her mother-in-law back to the land of Judah. I’ve always been in awe of her generosity and commitment, and am honored to carry her name.

But today I realized that Ruth also demonstrated a willingness to make sacrifices, too. When she traveled with Naomi back to Judah, both women were widows and they would be two women traveling alone. But Ruth was also leaving Moab, the land of her birth. When she left, she knew she was leaving her sister and her family behind. In those days, she likely realized that she would never see them again. She would also be leaving the familiarity of her environs, and would be going to a foreign land. In those days, even though they would probably be connecting to Naomi’s relatives, they were two women alone without plans. Ruth’s choice was indeed honorable: to choose to be with her mother-in-law and to practice her new faith, regardless of what might lie ahead.

She was also sacrificing much.

Now many of us have done our share of moving, of leaving friends and families behind. But in these times, with modern technology and communications, most of the people in our lives are only a telephone call, a plane trip, or an email away. For the most part, families and friends can stay in touch. We rarely are called to leave them forever.

*     *     *

As I look at how our country is changing, I’m beginning to realize that these times may also call for much, much more from us than we would ordinarily consider. We have already seen our rights degraded, our liberties infringed upon, our beliefs ridiculed or condemned, our allegiances being questioned. Leftist organizations and the government, sometimes subtly, at other times blatantly, expect us to comply with lockdowns, masks, and vaccines. Our speech is being censored. Our children are being propagandized. Our country is being demeaned and criticized.

The question occurred to me: where is my personal red line when it comes to my life being restricted by government bureaucrats? I can’t even imagine strategies implemented that would be so offensive or limiting that I would have to take action. Not only that, what actions would I be willing to take? How much or what would I be willing to give up? Would I be willing to risk my reputation? My friendships? My life?

I can’t help thinking of Germany in the 1930s when many people couldn’t imagine the future that awaited them. But some anticipated the danger that was just ahead and left the country when they could.

Is it premature to be thinking about the future and my response to tyranny? Or do I have a responsibility to assess my life at this time, look forward and consider what I might feel called to do?

Are these questions you have ever asked yourself?

[photo by Max Langelott at unsplash.com]

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  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    For me, the clearest line has always been free expression. No one is going to force me to use false language or perpetuate lies, nor prevent me from speaking openly and plainly about certain things. For example, I am not going to pretend a man is a woman, whatever he calls himself.

    That’s not passive, really. But it does seem easier to respond to an unjust imposition than to more actively pursue justice where it doesn’t exist. I do nothing but vote and debate to prevent unjust laws from being established.

    Before 2020, I would have said government can’t interfere with worship. But when our bishops agree with governments that churches should close or services should be restricted due to fears of disease, well founded or not, I realize that governments are not the only authorities involved in protecting that freedom.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    For me, the clearest line has always been free expression. No one is going to force me to use false language or perpetuate lies, nor prevent me from speaking openly and plainky about certain things. For example, I am not going to pretend a man is a woman, whatever he calls himself.

    That’s not passive, really. But it does seem easier to respond to an unjust imposition than to more actively pursue justice where it doesn’t exist. I do nothing but vote and debate to prevent unjust laws from being established.

    Before 2020, I would have said government can’t interfere with worship. But when our bishops agree with governments that churches should close or services should be restricted due to fears of disease, well founded or not, I realize that governments are not the only authorities involved in protecting that freedom.

    Thanks, Aaron. I’m seeking input here, so I’m unlikely to judge the choices that people think they will make; I’m not sure at this stage if and how I would do anything myself. I like your clarity, as I bolded above.

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    For me, the clearest line has always been free expression. No one is going to force me to use false language or perpetuate lies, nor prevent me from speaking openly and plainky about certain things. 

    Like @aaronmiller, my red line is telling the truth. Recently both Jordan Peterson and Dennis Kucinich made the identical point: you must always tell the truth as you know it and accept the consequences. They both told that to Tucker Carlson in their long form interviews with him on Tucker Carlson Today. And I think Tucker is taking that to heart and encouraging his audience to do the same. I don’t always agree with Tucker, but I think he is telling people what he believes to be true. You can form a successful society around that even when you don’t agree on what is the truth.  

     

    • #3
  4. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I have been struggling with this very question. And I love the story of Ruth.

    I am commenting to follow and look forward to reading more comments. Thank you.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    For me, the clearest line has always been free expression. No one is going to force me to use false language or perpetuate lies, nor prevent me from speaking openly and plainky about certain things.

    Like @ aaronmiller, my red line is telling the truth. Recently both Jordan Peterson and Dennis Kucinich made the identical point: you must always tell the truth as you know it and accept the consequences. They both told that to Tucker Carlson in their long form interviews with him on Tucker Carlson Today. And I think Tucker is taking that to heart and encouraging his audience to do the same. I don’t always agree with Tucker, but I think he is telling people what he believes to be true. You can form a successful society around that even when you don’t agree on what is the truth.

     

    Both your opinions (you and Aaron) resonate with me. One of my biggest struggles with the Left is how willingly they lie. I don’t know if it’s a lack of a moral base, their moral relativism, their commitment to their ideology at any cost. But every time I hear their lies, I’m so flummoxed–at times even outraged. I don’t even know if they know they’re lying. All they seem to care about is saying what they believe is important and saying the truth is simply irrelevant. So I’m definitely going to reflect on the importance of truth in my life. Thanks, fellows.

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    For me, the clearest line has always been free expression. No one is going to force me to use false language or perpetuate lies, nor prevent me from speaking openly and plainky about certain things.

    Like @ aaronmiller, my red line is telling the truth. Recently both Jordan Peterson and Dennis Kucinich made the identical point: you must always tell the truth as you know it and accept the consequences. They both told that to Tucker Carlson in their long form interviews with him on Tucker Carlson Today. And I think Tucker is taking that to heart and encouraging his audience to do the same. I don’t always agree with Tucker, but I think he is telling people what he believes to be true. You can form a successful society around that even when you don’t agree on what is the truth.

     

    This. 

    I will not lie. 

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I’m reminded of a story from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks book, Covenant & Conversation, where a man in Spain was forced to convert to Catholicism. He went through the motions, but was committed to secretly practicing Judaism–in a sense, living a lie. He asked a Rabbi if he was still permitted to practice Judaism in this way, and the Rabbi told him it would be sinful to do so. Maimonides, however, disagreed saying that Jews could have left Spain, but those who stayed and converted under fear of death should not be regarded as sinners; instead, every good deed should be seen as a great deed, since they were practicing at the risk of their lives.

    Sometimes these questions are complicated.  

    • #7
  8. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Maimonides, however, disagreed saying that Jews could have left Spain, but those who stayed and converted under fear of death should not be regarded as sinners; instead, every good deed should be seen as a great deed, since they were practicing at the risk of their lives.

    Sometimes these questions are complicated.

    True, but if you do not have an “I am Spartacus” moment each private practitioner practices in isolation which may work for their soul, but not the healing of a society.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Maimonides, however, disagreed saying that Jews could have left Spain, but those who stayed and converted under fear of death should not be regarded as sinners; instead, every good deed should be seen as a great deed, since they were practicing at the risk of their lives.

    Sometimes these questions are complicated.

    True, but if you do not have an “I am Spartacus” moment each private practitioner practices in isolation which may work for their soul, but not the healing of a society.

    Yet our private practices can strengthen us, give us courage to do the more demanding work. I think there’s value in both, although there is no doubt that when we can demonstrate our commitment publicly, we can inspire many.

    • #9
  10. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    My Red Line will be more clear than Barrack Obama’s ever was…

    • #10
  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    In Christianity, the first of Christ’s apostles, Peter, denied knowing Jesus three times to save his own life. He begged forgiveness of Jesus. And Jesus made no suggestion that Peter’s apology was unnecessary. It seems clear that bearing witness to truth and speaking up for those we love is worth even risk to our lives.

    It is not only for others but also to remain true to ourselves. Survivors of communism testify to the damage that constant self-censorship does to the spirit. We are incarnate beings. We need to live out our beliefs. 

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I’m not sure where the red line is, but I’ll know it when I see it.  I’ll fight to the death to preserve what we have . . .

    • #12
  13. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Something Americans might need to ask themselves today or soon: With what could I be blackmailed? How would I respond to threatened exposure of private information or destruction by slanderous lies?

    Accusations abound in our culture today, both in media and local encounters. Many are unfounded. They are rewarded with presumption and popular fury nevertheless. They get people fired. They get people outcast. Thanks to the Internet, they become a permanent black mark.

    To this, add a few horrible developments. First, tech companies like Google and Amazon (setting aside the NSA) monitor and record all communication and activities. Depending on app settings, their algorithmic software might listen in on conversations. Second, these companies evidently and expressly cooperate with both China and unprincipled, vindictive, statist Democrats. Third, “hacktivists” and corporate employees (setting aside the IRS) are increasingly willing to “leak” private information to condemn people they dislike.

    With each passing year, suppression by blackmail — perhaps in secret — becomes a more probable danger well beyond the old targets of politicians and celebrities. We are creeping toward a society more akin to East Berlin or modern China.

    • #13
  14. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Susan, I don’t exactly think of this as a red line or a sacrifice, but I try very hard to avoid using the language of the opposition.

    Some of the terms are: African-American, person of color, diversity, inclusion, equity, antiracist, affirmative action, historically marginalized people, underrepresented minorities, privilege (of many types), toxic masculinity, gay, LGBT, trans-man, trans-woman, and the pronoun nonsense.  And “gender” — I really hate the word “gender,” except when used in linguistics.  I avoid the word “community” when talking, or writing, about such groups.

    I also refuse to use the wrong-sex name-of-choice of a so-called trans-person.  So it’s Bruce Jenner, not Caitlin.

    These may be small things.  I am worried about the Orwellian implications of using such language.  I find it difficult to separate the language that I use from my thoughts, because I typically think in language.  I suspect that this is true of just about everyone, though I can’t know for certain.

    I’ve also come to dislike the so-called Enlightenment, which I think is a failure and, by this time, an intellectual fraud.  The earlier adherents can be forgiven, perhaps, for thinking that someone would figure out a moral system based on pure reason.  After about 3 centuries of abject failure, I don’t think that modern proponents of the so-called Enlightenment have this excuse.

    • #14
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    In Christianity, the first of Christ’s apostles, Peter, denied knowing Jesus three times to save his own life. He begged forgiveness of Jesus. And Jesus made no suggestion that Peter’s apology was unnecessary. It seems clear that bearing witness to truth and speaking up for those we love is worth even risk to our lives.

    It is not only for others but also to remain true to ourselves. Survivors of communism testify to the damage that constant self-censorship does to the spirit. We are incarnate beings. We need to live out our beliefs.

    Aaron, this is not my recollection.  I don’t recall Peter begging for forgiveness.  I recall Jesus asking Peter, three times, whether Peter loved Him.  Jesus was the initiator, and I don’t think that Peter actually asked for forgiveness outwardly — though I do believe that Peter had repented in his heart.  This is from John 21.

    Am I forgetting something?

    • #15
  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Aaron, this is not my recollection.  I don’t recall Peter begging for forgiveness.  I recall Jesus asking Peter, three times, whether Peter loved Him.  Jesus was the initiator, and I don’t think that Peter actually asked for forgiveness outwardly — though I do believe that Peter had repented in his heart.  This is from John 21.

    Yes, I didn’t tell that right. Peter did express great regret, and the two accounts (3 denials of Jesus, 3 times Jesus asks “Do you love me?”) are connected. But Peter’s remorse is expressed differently. Thanks.

    Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. —Matthew 26

    and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”
    He went out and began to weep bitterly. —Luke 22

    The connection of the denials and Christ’s repeated question clearly displays Christ’s mercy, which is necessary because the denials were indeed a failure of love.

    If someone accused my parents, siblings, or children of heinous crimes and I kept silent to protect myself, my loved ones would understand and probably forgive my fear. But they would yet be injured by having received no just defense.

    • #16
  17. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    You, along with the rest of us, may have to consider the Bonhoeffer option. He took the last boat from America back to Germany and spent the war years collecting information on Nazi atrocities. It cost him his life.

    • #17
  18. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    But today I realized that Ruth also demonstrated a willingness to make sacrifices, too. When she traveled with Naomi back to Judah, both women were widows and they would be two women traveling alone. But Ruth was also leaving Moab, the land of her birth. When she left, she knew she was leaving her sister and her family behind. In those days, she likely realized that she would never see them again. She would also be leaving the familiarity of her environs, and would be going to a foreign land. In those days, even though they would probably be connecting to Naomi’s relatives, they were two women alone without plans. Ruth’s choice was indeed honorable: to choose to be with her mother-in-law and to practice her new faith, regardless of what might lie ahead.

    At the road’s great division, Ruth made the right decision. “Where you will go I will go. Your God will be my God.”  These words have bound families, communities and divergent faiths together for countless generations.

    There is power in words and especially names ; you chose a great one.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Southern Pessimist (View Comment):
    There is power in words and especially names ; you chose a great one.

    Thanks, @southernpessimist. Ruth does set an example for all of us, doesn’t she?

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn: Is it premature to be thinking about the future and my response to tyranny? Or do I have a responsibility to assess my life at this time, look forward and consider what I might feel called to do?

    I’m with Jerry.  I agree with everything he said in #14.  Vehemently.  But there are many ways to die, and to live.

    I — and I’m sure many of us — have read of people being tortured both physically, mentally and morally (or spiritually).  But to save one’s own life or end his own suffering, or to save the lives or end suffering of others, I don’t know to what moral depths a man of any conscience would not descend.

    I’ve known all my life, with varying degrees of it being in the forefront of my thoughts, that one day I might very likely have the choice of either denying my God and worshiping a false god and in return being able to buy and sell to feed myself or others, or else to be beheaded.  But this is a stark choice; it seems to me that there are other less clear, just as powerful choices to be made or betrayed leading up to this.

    I don’t know what I would do, or would not do, but it is certainly not too early to ask this of oneself.

    • #20