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Civil Conniption

My husband worked a great deal of overtime in the past two weeks.  We, rightfully I think, expected a big paycheck today.  But it was considerably smaller than we had expected:  over $500 had been taken out in taxes.

No, I’m not kidding.  My husband is not a businessman making money in the millions.  He’s a police officer–public servants don’t get paid much.  Five hundred dollars is a lot of grocery money, folks!  If I didn’t value my tea so much, I would have run down to the river and tossed it in.  That would have been a silly thing to do, anyway.  The fellows involved in the Boston Tea Tantrum didn’t dump their OWN tea in the harbor.  They dumped the king’s tea.  Hmm.  Does the President drink tea, I wonder?  Perhaps the Potomac needs a bit of flavoring?

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July–the annual celebration of our independence from Great Britain.  What did the British do that literally had us up in arms all those years ago?  Were we protesting slavery?  Mysterious disappearances?  Wrongful imprisonments?  Mass slaughter by the government?  No, we were protesting taxes.

It’s my understanding that governments need money to fund all the stuff they do for us.  King George III said the same thing–the taxes levied against the colonists were paying for the French and Indian War, which had been fought (by the British) to secure our lands from the encroaching French.  Sounds like a good use of our money, actually.  (Yes, yes, I know King George was a nutter.  But it would make more sense to me to rebel against the king because he was insane than because of the tax issue.)

No, protesting taxes is a useless proposition.  There’s nothing sure in this life but death and you-know-what.  It was not really a compelling reason for starting a civil war.  And it really seemed to have started us off on the wrong foot.  Because we have become a nation of whiners and protesters, throwing conniptions at the drop of a hat.  Any perceived encroachment on our rights is apparently worth ripping into everyone in general on all possible forums.  It’s depressing.

I’m not talking about any particular group or political party or cause.  As a Tory, I don’t really have a political party, and I weigh each issue through the lens of reason rather than internet memes or party lines.  Some issues really do warrant concern and deliberation.  I act on my convictions quietly by contacting the proper authorities and by voting my conscience. But most issues are as trivial as taxation.  Before I wade into any argument concerning social or political issues, I ask myself, “Is this really worth starting a war over?  Is it worth the angst, the vitriol, the possible estrangement of others?”  Most of the time, it just isn’t.

It’s become the American way to expect to get everything we want and to get it now–and if we don’t get it, we have the right to thrown a temper tantrum over it.  And if anyone calls us on our attitude of entitlement, we accuse them of being intolerant, or ignorant, or even uncaring.  It all grieves me.

What would America be like today if we had started a war over a noble and selfless cause?  What if it were slavery, for example, that we were protesting?  Would we be a kinder, more loving people?  I wonder.

By the way–before you burn me in effigy, please have a gander at my first controversial Fourth of July entry entitled “An American Tory.”

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An American Tory

I wore my London T-shirt on Independence Day because I am a Tory.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not a Tory because I am an Anglophile, although I am an Anglophile.  I am not a Tory because I hate America.  I am grateful for my country and am as patriotic as anyone.  I am fully aware of how lucky I am to live in this country.  But if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that, if I had lived in the late 1700’s, I would not have been able to support the revolution.  I believe that political and social change is best effected by working within the system by peaceable means, not by violence and rebellion against government authority.  It may take a lot longer to effect change within the established system of government, but it can and it does work.  I also can’t justify violent revolution with the Scriptures.  It just won’t jive with the verses that command us to live at peace with our neighbor (Romans12;18), to honor the king and obey all secular government officials (I Peter 2:13-17), to “render unto Caesar” (This verse is found in three of the four Gospels.  Repeating something three times, to a Jew, is tantamount to highlighting it, underlining it, and putting several exclamation points after it.)

I am not a pacifist, by any means.  I believe we have the right to defend ourselves against an enemy who attacks and tries to take us over by force.  I even believe we have the responsibility to wade into the fray in defending our neighbors against unlawful attack.  I would have been right there in World War II, fighting against Hitler any way I could.  But to attack my own government and countrymen–I just don’t think I could in all good conscience.

Jesus never advocated revolution against the Romans, even though it was a tyrannical and oppressive regime.  He made a point of being non-political by taking as His disciples both Matthew, a minor official of the Roman Government, and Simon the Zealot, a member of a political party that used terrorist tactics and guerrilla warfare in their struggle against the Roman oppressors.  There is no record of Jesus admonishing or correcting either of these two men, or addressing politics with them in any form.  But Matthew left his post as a Roman tax collector, and Simon never went back to his Zealotry.  They had more important things to do.

I have been thinking a lot about what would have happened if our forefathers had been more patient and had waited out King George.  Yes, he was a tyrannical madman.  Yes, something needed to be done about him.  But it needed to be done by  lawful means.  The rule of law was long established in England, land of the great Magna Carta.  And the king would not live forever.  I’m not saying that living with the insulting taxes and laws levied against the colonies would have been easy.  But perhaps it would have been preferable, and not just to avoid the bloodshed of war.  If we had remained colonies of England, slavery in this land would have ended when it was abolished by British Parliament, half a century earlier than we managed to do it on our own.  It would have ended peacefully, without a drop of bloodshed.  It would have ended without rancor or bitterness on the part of either side.  There would have been no need for a Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, because integration would have occurred as naturally and easily as it was in England.  For that matter, our great statesmen and political thinkers might have helped England along in their extrication from their other far-flung colonies by more peaceable means.  Who can say how different the world might be today if our forefathers had all been Tories?

But be that as it may, this world is not our home.  We are citizens of a better place, and we should act in accordance with the Laws of that glorious land!  Ephesians 3:20!


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