“By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity — another man’s I mean” – Mark Twain
I grew up in North Carolina, fairly rural North Carolina at that. Upon graduation from high school I duly enrolled at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which was in a much more cosmopolitan area of the state. I spent four years at UNC, then another two spinning my wheels around Chapel Hill before enrolling in graduate school at NC State, just down the road. Two years at State and I was off to a new career, and out of the area.
One of the things that I noticed during my eight years in what is called “the Triangle” was the significant, some would say massive influx of northerners (Yankees, for those not in the know) to the area. It was at least mildly curious. Having met any number of these good people I came to the conclusion (not hard at all – they were very forthcoming) that their decision to move south was driven largely by economics. Cost of living was high in the Northeast, as were taxes, and they could often make a far more comfortable life for themselves in Raleigh, or Chapel Hill, or (usually) Cary, NC. There were even quite a few instances where these were early retirees with generous union pension plans that could live quite well in the lower-cost-of-living, lower-tax south.
Even at the time this all made sense to me. I fully support freedom of movement in our society. If people feel that the public policy of one region is more suited to them than another, then they should be free to move there. This freedom, in some gross way, makes us not the property of the state. If local officials do too many onerous things to us, we’ll take our “ball” (our skills, resources, and productivity) and go elsewhere – and they can explain to everyone else why the local economy is continually worsening.
A funny think happens in the Triangle though. The same “Yankees” who are fleeing the natural results of bad public policy in the liberal and union-dominated Northeast, turn around and vote for the same policies once they get to the free South. There is a clear disconnect here. The reason things were so bad in your native states is bad public policy … why would you want to bring that here? But they do …
This dawned on me again in church yesterday. We had a missionary in town who works in Spain, but primarily meets with and ministers to Muslims. It turns out there are quite a few Muslims in Spain and the rest of Europe. Why are they there? Well, in no small part they have fled the economic calamity that is Northern Africa. Years of violence, with any number of dictatorships, no basis in freedom, and a countervailing religious extremism, have made life really difficult.
One wonders the degree to which they have fled their original homelands only to support the same type of narrative in a new country. That’s not to say that Islam is incompatible with a free and economically prosperous society – I don’t believe that it is. (Turkey seems to be going along quite well by comparison.) But in places (countries or communities) where theocracy has taken hold, and where the people are readily swayed religious fervor to overlook the simple, basic human rights of their neighbors – we might well expect to see social and economic misery.
It is the nature of theocracies (whether religious or political, as in the case of American progressivism) that there is an inability to even consider simple causal possibilities. The ability to say “it is possible that our ideology does not lead to prosperity, and that our policies actually caused more harm than good, leading us to flee.”
Christendom is by no means immune from the same effect, but Christians have, by and large, gone through all of this before (centuries ago) and moderated their views on personal and religious freedom. We certainly had our own bouts with theocratic institutions (Holy Roman Empire, anyone?) but we have since taken them down preferring the “My kingdom is not of this world” and “love your neighbor as yourself” approach to life … and public policy. (Not all Christians, of course. But you’ll find a rather large number who have serious qualms about oppressing their neighbors to get “good” behavior from them … at least in the obvious forms of oppression. We’re still working on the rest.)