I was listening to a lecture offered by Dr. Jordan Peterson the other day in the shop. I often have some sort of lecture or podcast going, and I usually pay partial attention to it while working with my hands. This particular subject surrounded humility and activism. Essentially, Jordan was poking at the young pseudo-intellectuals that arrive at college and are instantly militarized into various activist roles within organizations. The fundamental problem is, that most folks are so young they have no idea what they’re doing and have no business working themselves up into a tizzy 7 days a week. This isn’t to say that issues don’t matter and they shouldn’t participate. However, it should be noted that lacking humility, all the youth (both high school and college-age combined) manage to accomplish when activism is placed first in terms of importance, is a draw towards two very bad things – grappling for power or assertion of victim status.
It took some time for that fact to sink in. I was then compelled to evaluate myself against this premise to see just how far I had wandered off the path. While I’m arguably one of the most flawed people I know, I believe I’m neither power-hungry nor prone to claiming victim status. Maybe, just maybe, my upbringing and experiences taught me humility. Or at least enough of it, to properly prioritize the order of multiple good things.
As an aside, you must ask yourself when determining the rank of two good things such as loyalty or truth, which you’ll offer chiefly to those in your life. If the answer is “loyalty” then you’re well suited for political office. If your answer is “truth” then there just might be hope for you yet…
Because I learned humility early on and had practiced it routinely, I believe a case can be made that I, and many like me, are well suited to be activists. You see, there is a distinct need for activism in our culture. There are aspects of our society that need significant change. This requires activism. However, when we’re looking at the choice among things like humility or activism, one requires the other. I don’t believe we can truly advocate well, or with a purity of spirit as well as purity of outcome, if humility isn’t present in us.
As Second Amendment advocates, we tend to be more caring than our counterparts. They often, if rarely, agree with this, but that’s the truth. We’re concerned with the preservation of life and liberty. It isn’t that they don’t have hearts. Many truly weep for the pain of others. But they hold a flawed understanding of what is true of a thing, which pushes them into the “feel” category too quickly when formulating crucial precepts. We too, “feel” plenty, but it is in a different place. Our feelings come at the front end, which motivates us to love and consider others. Through those motivators, we apply the logic of the application and perceived outcome. Our opposition? They do this, generally speaking, in reverse order. They come up with an idea or a stance, then use emotion and all the feelings that accompany them to move their premise forward. This is a big problem.
I’ve often said we need to take the moral high ground in our 2A battle. This notion was offered to me by a mentor and I’ve never forgotten it. The other side, just as we, are applying morals to the equation. They apply moral feelings. We apply moral thoughts. Moral feelings stem from the Latin, “conscientia” or conscious. Moral thoughts stem from the Latin, “synderesis” or scholastic philosophy. The synderesis, or thoughts, were understood by the ancient world to be nearly 100% fail-safe, whereas the conscientia, or feelings, were almost 100% failure oriented.
Have we become a world that feels or one that thinks?
Our humility is necessary for us to communicate with others and understand concerns we may not have considered or even share. Humility precedes our activism. We absolutely need this in order to do well for our mission and the beneficiaries. Once we act and think with humility, the activism picks up a tone of clarity and genuineness. There are times I see that lacking in our actions and responses, which means it isn’t in our thought. …And it should be.
Believe me, I understand. We’re grappling with an enemy that will enthusiastically tromp all over our civil rights. …And not because you or I have done anything to disallow the use and exercise of our core human rights, but rather, because they themselves can’t fathom the use and ownership of a gun. These are truly their shortcomings, but they project them onto us. I truly understand why we get so prickly over this so quickly. Our outrage is justified. There is a place for outrage too, and that day may be looming larger for us. But for the purposes of bringing folks who don’t understand this into the fold, humility will go a long way in shaping their view. …And perception matters.
Once we have humility well in hand, I believe we’re better suited to take on those who have only learned they need or want power in order to Lord over us. The same group of people who can’t achieve power will assert victim status and immediately vilify us. After all, this is a zero-sum game to them. If they claim they are victims, then we automatically become the aggressor. As aggressors, we now owe them, right? Whether that debt is money, status, or whatever, they have been taught, indoctrinated if you will, that immediately pivoting to victimology when they don’t get their way will shame us into giving them what they want. …And it often works. Being labeled hurts us, and depicts us as things we aren’t. But, by acting with humility, we subvert those claims in large part. Sure, false claims are going to happen, and cancel culture is running rampant, but having a track record for humility is akin to a Teflon coating proactively applied.
We’ll be better off short and long term for embracing humility at every level of our mission. Now, don’t hear what I haven’t said. No place have you heard me advocate for weakness or some sort of retreat. Quite the contrary. Each of us may have a different idea on the subject of transcendence, but for me? I want to stand tall before Him and offer my account. After all, the destination we all seek together is important, but greater yet is the journey. We must do so with purity, thus our best activism contains humility.