“Would the Huron make his Algonquin brothers foolish with brandy and steal his lands to sell them for gold to the white man? Would Huron have greed for more land than a man can use? Would Huron fool Senecans to take in all the furs of all the animals in the forest for beads and strong whiskey? Would the Huron kill every man, woman, and child of their enemy? Those are the ways of the Yangees and the Français traders and their masters in Europe infected with the sickness of greed. Magua’s heart is twisted. He would make himself into what twisted him.” – Hawkeye (played by Daniel Day Lewis) in The Last of the Mohicans
If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s very good. In this scene, toward the end, we see the main character, Hawkeye, a white man adopted and raised by the Mohican Indians, pleading with a Huron elder to not give in to Magua’s demands. His defense? Magua has become the thing he hates. Magua, through his hatred of the white man, has chosen the ways of the white man, and has begun to oppress his Indian brothers.
We see in Hawkeye’s plea echoes of Proverbs 3:31, “Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways.” We see this connection between the way you set about accomplishing a task and the ultimate outcome. That you can’t get to the right place via the wrong path.
We see the theme again (sticking with the movies) in The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo attempts to give the one Ring to Gandalf, who responds with “Don’t tempt me Frodo! I dare not take it. Not even to keep it safe. Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”
Isn’t this the nature of theocracies in our world? Men of various religious faiths with a desire to do good ultimately wield a governing authority that is terrible and cruel. Is it not also the way of communism? They came to power to rescue the poor from the oppressive aristocracies – only to oppress them ever the more. (As a side note, I hold communism to be exactly a theocracy, though with an athiestic religion.)
Remember this the next time you are tempted by progressive ideologies. The next time you start to wonder if it might be a good thing to take away just a little bit of freedom, God-given freedom, for the good of the whole. After all, people can’t always be trusted to do what is in their best interest. Sometimes they might need you to help them make the right choices. And if they don’t make the right choices, they might need you to take away their choices and make sure they don’t mess up. In very short order you too can become Hitler, or Mao, or Stalin.
The difficulty with freedom is always the same. Free people won’t always do what you want them to. God has given you a voice – feel free to convince them of the right way. God also gave them freedom; entrusted it to them for His own purposes. Has God granted you authority to rule over the lives of your fellow man, through any virtue of your exceeding wisdom and talents?
God has given us the operation of the church to provide salt and light to the earth. He has given us marriage to ensure bonds of love in the hearts of men and women. He has given us families to ensure that children have love and care – and defenders with irrational zeal.
To think that one can, through the force of collective governance, improve upon this plan is to test the bounds of heresy. Has Nimrod returned? Shall we return to Babel to make a name for ourselves? Have we finally figured out what went wrong in the earth, and that we can fix it all by forcing people to do the right thing?
No, that is not our way. We choose Psalm 37:3-4 instead: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”