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Jan Greenhawk, Editor, Easton Gazette
In my career as a teacher, my work as an advocate for parental rights and a Chapter Chair for Moms for Liberty, I have seen many different approaches to making things better in our communities and country. Some of them have been successful and some have not. Some of the things I have done have worked and some have not. In the last five years, I've learned so much. What I learned has been gleaned from thirty years as an educator and sports association volunteer at many different levels.
What is clear to me right now is that Conservatives*, who for the most part have the right motives, are losing our focus on those values and actions that will model our core beliefs and not hurt them.
There are several examples of this. The people experiencing these problems will have neither the influence nor the stamina to win the fight against Progressive Marxist forces. The problems are:
Lack of Humility: I don't know when humility became rare in our cause. Some say it's because Trump was not humble and people keyed their actions off of him, others just say it's because people are self-centered, self-absorbed and self-glorifying. (BTW, I think Trump was fairly humble considering.)The cause is not important to me. All I know is that true humility matters. Proverbs 18:12 says, " Before destruction the heart of man is haughty. And before honor is humility."
The strongest of leaders are even stronger in their humility. From C.S. Lewis, "Humble leadership doesn't mean you think less of yourself, it means you think about yourself less and you think of your team more."
Desire for Control: Progressives tell you they want freedom, choice, and self-determination while denying anyone that disagrees with them freedom, choice, and self-determination. They micro-manage all their followers even giving them specific talking points and very little freedom to think. All one has to look at is the cancel culture and harassment tactics of the left. For example, the SPLC named parental rights groups as "extremist hate groups" and the U.S. Department of Justice targeted parents at school board meetings as "domestic terrorists." This also carries over to any time a speaker they don't like appears at an event. Riley Gaines, who speaks for the rights of women to compete against women, not men, has been physically attacked at events. Progressives do this because they want control and to shut people up.
Unfortunately, there are Conservatives who do the same thing. It's not always on a universal level like the Progressives, but sometimes occurs in various groups and organizations who fight for freedom. I'm not talking about making sure an organization has a consistent message or public representation, I'm talking about members who strive to gather all the power and acclaim for themselves, even shutting down others to achieve that goal. The infighting they cause is usually terminally destructive to the work of that organization and ultimately the Conservative cause.
This desire for control is usually motivated out of paranoia and fear of infiltration. When they give into those emotions, they become the very thing they are fighting. From gotquestions.org, "People dominated by paranoia look outward toward others to validate their worth rather than upward toward God. Even while craving validation, they perceive telltale signs of rejection or hostility in everything. They take every word, action, and event as confirmation that their paranoid fears were correct. " No group or cause can survive this tendency. The Bible tells the tale of King Saul who let paranoia take over his life and went on a murderous rampage over the popularity David. Saul was God's anointed King and he could not avoid the horrible effects of paranoia.
Failure to Listen: Many people love to talk, not so many love listening. I have a friend who ran for office who told people, " I have one mouth to talk but two ears to listen." He was telling people that he wanted to hear their ideas instead of just voicing his. This is a rare quality in people, especially those running for office. By following through on this, he was able to have productive discussions with people that had other views than his. They were able to find common ground and agree to disagree on other issues. He has his lines in the sand, to be sure, but he finds a way to solve problems in the areas they agree on. He won by the way.
Conservatives may think that we can make change while ignoring those who disagree with us in some areas. This is untrue. While there are some people we can't and shouldn't work with, there are others with whom we may have more common ground than disagreements. We can't exclude them from our fight if we want to prevail. And, sometimes you find that you can change their minds on some issues!
Lack of Focus: One of the problems is that there is so much to fight against right now. We see our children being sexualized at young ages, people denied their Constitutional rights, and citizens being persecuted for their religious and political beliefs. For those of us trying to advocate for our values, it feels like we are trying to balance a million things all at once with our hands behind our back. Many of us are being targeted first by one group, then by another. This targeting causes an extreme emotional reaction that will only hurt the message we want to send.
This is actually a tactic used by the Marxist Left to keep us jumping from one issue to another. Day after day, stories pop up on our feed about outlandish, horrible things happening. It's easy to get all worked up about these events and lose our focus. We can't do that.
A group with too many priorities has no priorities. It's also easy to lose sight of what is important as we sift through the noise and clutter. Human nature dictates that we drift to the latest thing, the latest problem, the most recent issue. Focus is lost, people become confused, groups splinter, and all of a sudden infighting and accusations become the norm.
Jealousy/Envy: If we are comparing ourselves to others like King Saul did, the end result will be disaster. Rather than rejoicing that other Conservative groups are doing great things in our fight, some just want to denigrate the efforts of others through gossip, condemnations, etc. While we should be lifting each other up and celebrating the efforts of others, we worry how we will look in comparison. This makes us unhappy and negative.
So, what's to be done?
These problems are caused by not having the right mindset to begin with. Rather than explain it myself, let's listen to this young lady from the University of Oklahoma softball team as she explains how they stayed focused during a season when many teams wanted them defeated:
The message these young ladies state is astounding. The maturity they display is well beyond their years. The "eyes up" motto they state is something we, as adults, as Christians, as Conservatives, as human beings, need to adopt for ourselves. Yes, it's just softball, but I know these young women will take this lesson into their lives.
Having the right focus will help us avoid the infighting that can occur when we have the wrong goals.
I am not perfect. I have made each one of the mistakes I listed. I have been petty, paranoid, vindictive, self-centered, prideful, etc. But every day I pray to change myself and look at things from a different perspective, one that includes an "eyes up" attitude. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But I think I am getting closer.
It will be the same struggle for Conservatives and Conservative groups. But the more we strive to do better, the closer we will be to achieving not only self-improvement, but an actual influence on the people we want to influence. When we are secure in ourselves, in our actions, in our beliefs, we can move mountains.
Eyes up everyone!
*I don't mean Republicans because not all Republicans are Conservatives.