By: Gabriela Yareliz
I am currently reading Harvard Economist Peter Navarro’s book In Trump Time: My Journal of America’s Plague Year. The book documents his notes and journal entries throughout his time in the past administration, specifically regarding his time on the task force when COVID-19 came onto the scene. It details discussions with Fauci in the situation room, votes taken, arguments had, decision making and how certain decisions were arrived to. It’s interesting to read hindsight something that feels so close.
As I mentioned not long ago, I finished Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday, which left me with a quote I’ve been churning around in my mind. It was one I included in my June 2022 favorites: “That is what de Gaulle realized about Hitler. That his force was entirely dependent on the ‘cowardice of others.’”
This quote has stuck with me like glue because it is so relevant to how things are moving in the world today. It also highlights how courage (and cowardice) can change the course of the world and people’s lives. In the past two years, I have been pretty vocal on the topic of cowardice and how it pertains to the church, government and society at large (see Leadership and A Society of Cowards for more). When you listen to how people express themselves, a well-maintained fear seems to be seeping out of people’s pores.
We’ve seen cowardice be used and weaponized to arrive to where we are today. Just recently, I was listening to a clip from the TSC Him and Her Podcast with International Water Scientist Robert Slovak. You can read a bit of their interaction below:
Robert Slovak: “There is a plan for the control of humanity and that plan is moving forward at full force like it never has before. We are moving toward a dystopian society in which we are going to lose all control, everything will be censored.”
Michael Bosstick: “My biggest fear during the pandemic was actually not the disease or the sickness. My biggest fear was how complacent people got so quickly. How eager they were to give up their basic rights. People would say, Well it’s a scary time and people are dying, and I’m like, Yes, of course that has happened through history. This is not the first pandemic that’s happened with our species. What was starting to see [sic] was how many people in positions of power were so eager to exhibit that power over other people, and we all can see this now looking two years back, and how many other people were so eager to let them exhibit that power over them. The strategy is smart too cuz it’s done in the name of righteousness, right? It’s done in the name that maybe [if] you question or you’re against any of these things, that you’re a bad person that doesn’t care for other humans.”
It’s undeniable that this form of manipulation has been rampant.
Where there is no evidence that change is needed or beneficial, one only changes or molds one’s behavior to please others when one puts weight on the thoughts of others above one’s own. When one’s actions are due to the fear of being labeled in a certain way or being ostracized. Our desire to be seen a certain way, even if it goes against our conscience– our desire to be perfectly obedient to a system that doesn’t care about us and lies to us continuously, our apathy that allows us to follow along and makes us prevent the hard work of asking questions and investigating– all of this is a form of cowardice. It is a cowardice that humanity very easily falls into and justifies. It’s not easy to go against the grain, but courage never is. (And we aren’t discussing recklessness. That isn’t courage. Courage is calculated and has an element of wisdom and truth to distinguish it).
So, what does this have to do with the Ryan Holiday quote about de Gaulle’s discovery regarding the ingredient for Hitler’s success? (“That is what de Gaulle realized about Hitler. That his force was entirely dependent on the ‘cowardice of others.’”) Well, I started to think about how true this was in history and how true it is today, and then it got me thinking about the antithesis.
Scientist Robert Slovak may be right, and he may be wrong. Whatever it may be, if we continue on the track we are on, it’s clear this is not going to end well. If we read Scripture and truly look at what prophecy tells us about the world’s trajectory, we know it is going to be a wild ride.
I was meditating on how for Hitler and the Nazis to flourish, they needed people who were cowards, who wouldn’t question or stand up to anything. (Those who did, died. I mean look at Bonhoeffer and the ten Booms. Rebellion is costly). In fact, de Gaulle’s own France buckled under the pressure. It preferred invasion and compliance with Nazis if it meant it had some sort of “security and normalcy.” It took a man they tried to assassinate multiple times and called crazy (de Gaulle) to set it straight and bring it back to dignity. Hitler and the Nazis sought power over people, and they had it.
Jesus’ and the Church’s success requires quite the opposite of what Hitler required and it seeks quite the opposite too. (And by the Church I don’t mean a corrupt entity but the followers of Jesus). It seeks not power over others but service to others. It required and still does, courage. An impossible amount of courage. Jesus walked a precarious road to the cross. He risked everything to gain us. Jesus tells His followers they will be reviled, persecuted (Matthew 5:11), and that they are here to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14-16). A compass. A people who mark North every single time. For the Church to succeed in being a place that is set apart and on fire for God, its individuals must be courageous.
It means not seeking to blame or apathetically follow along, but it means taking responsibility and choosing right. It means choosing what is right and following conscience no matter what the cost. In fact, many of the non-Jews who were killed in the Holocaust was due to the fact that they followed these principles. They did not shield themselves with the current-day Church permissions or flow of things. They sought not convenience. They stood out. They stood out like a thorn in the shoe of everyone who wanted to keep walking backwards. Their behavior matched their conscience. They had courage in word, idea and deed. In defiance, they hid people, they cared for people, they died for people.
A courage like this is supernatural. The thing that makes it available is that God promises to equip the willing and honest heart (Hebrews 13:20-21). The supernatural is gifted to us, it doesn’t come from us.
There are whispers of recession, another pandemic, more government control, collapsing governments (just this morning the UK’s Boris Johnson resigned from being head of his party). Things in this world escalate and crumble quickly.
And yet, God continually is telling us, “Do not be afraid,” and that He is with us “always, even unto the end.”
In this very moment, I don’t have a fear of what may come. I don’t think this comes from some moral or spiritual superiority at all. Nope. I think it comes from evidence. God calls us to build our relationship with Him based on faith and evidence. Let’s take the principle of tithing, for example. Giving 10% of what you have to God because all we have belongs to Him. It is an act done in acknowledgement of His status as provider of ALL THINGS. King of the universe. Tithing is something I take very seriously. Someone might think this 10% is insignificant, but that is just the thing. The small things become big.
I love the verse where God invites us to tithe. He doesn’t invite us to tithe only when things are going great and we can give out of our abundance. No. He calls us to tithe, always. It has to do with the relationship we have with Him and who we believe Him to be, not our circumstances.
He tells His people: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” He continues saying, “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)
God wants to bless us, and He engages with us in a curious way. He says, TEST ME. He is like, I dare you. Recognize me and see what I will do on your behalf. God has been and forever will be faithful.
While the world and its governments and corporations and groups require suicidal allegiance– they require your cowardice– God requires your courage and faith. Have enough faith to test Him. Take Him at His word. Be a compass that allows His pull to bring the needle to true North every time.
Failed movements will require your cowardice, but God requires the best of you. Get testy.