Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Great Awakening

The following is intended to be an analogy. While based on actual experiences, it is not a declaration of religious belief or manifestation. It is merely meant to draw connections between modern political parties and religious sectarian conflict. Readers are encouraged to take interpretive license.

"There was in the place where I lived an unusual excitement on the subject of politics. It commenced with the Democrats, but soon became general among all the parties in that region of country. Indeed, the whole country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different political parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Look, here!” and others, “See, there!” Some were contending for the Democrat party, some for the Republican, and some for the Libertarian.

For, notwithstanding the great love which the members of these different parties expressed at the time of their joining, and the great zeal manifested by the respective leadership, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of political feeling, in order to have everybody "converted," as they were pleased to call it, let them join what party they pleased; yet when the voters began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the leaders  and the voters were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—candidate contending against candidate, and voter against voter; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in the strife of words and a contest about opinions - all noise to my ears.

During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Republican party, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different parties, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Democrats were most decided against the Republicans and Libertarians, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Republicans and Libertarians in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.

In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?

I eventually came to the logical conclusion that I need not join any of the parties in order to obtain and hold to the truth. I promised myself to not join any of them; and many other things I thought to myself, which I cannot write at this time. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that partisan politics is not true.”

It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of this "kingdom of noise;" else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy? Why should political parties, of all things, be a cause - even a tool to be used - for such division, persecution, and confusion?

Some few days after I came to this conclusion, I happened to be in company with one of the local party leaders, who was very active in the before mentioned political excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of politics, I took occasion to give him an account of the conclusion that I reached. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as moderate, open-minded statesmen or transformational leaders in these days; that all such things had ceased with the Founding Fathers, and that there would never be any more of them.

I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among party leaders and advocates, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure young man, barely out of college, and my circumstances in life such as to make a man of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the parties—all united to persecute me.

I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the political world was concerned—that it was not my duty or obligation to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed."