There’s a part in C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters” that has echoed around inside my head for years and spurs me to action whenever I’m feeling lazy or dejected. In fact, I consider it one of the most important parts of any book for anyone attempting to live a worthwhile life.
The story is a series of letters from a senior devil working in Hell to a junior devil working on Earth, and instructing him on how to be a proper “tempter” to the humans. The junior devil, “Wormwood,” is fresh out of tempter college and is failing miserably to bring the human he’s been assigned to away from God and the human’s faith in Him thanks to his lack of experience. The senior devil, “Screwtape,” is advising him on how to bring the human back into secularity despite having repented of his sins and accepted Christ.
The advice has a theme to it:
“It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little brute wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilising the seeds which the Enemy plants in a human soul. Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will. As one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”
“Let him do anything but act.”
That one piece of advice given from one demon to another is so poignant and applies to so much in our world.
Edmund Burke is popularly credited with saying “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
The refusal to act allows evil to thrive and the soul to wither. In this time, this has become more apparent than ever. It’s clear that authoritarians are counting on men to stay silent and do as they’re told. To refuse to act in the name of one cause or another, with the biggest cause being a punishment for those who act up.
Yet, I’ve noticed more and more that when someone strikes back against what people consider to be greater odds than the public believes, they win. For instance, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was just handed a loss at the hands of those wishing to practice religion freely according to the New York Post:
The federal appeals court in Manhattan on Monday struck down New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic-related executive order setting capacity limits at houses of worship –because it “discriminates against religion on its face.”
The three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously sided with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America and two synagogues who had sued Cuomo over the Oct. 6. attendance caps.
“The restrictions challenged here specially and disproportionately burden religious exercise,” and violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, Circuit Judge Michael Park wrote in the ruling.
“We conclude that [Cuomo’s] Order discriminates against religion on its face.”
The majority of the court had said the restrictions “strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” and that “even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
Authoritarians in America are counting on no one fighting back and go above and beyond to try to punish you when they do. On Tuesday, RedState reported that Oregon’s governor sent Child Protective Services to the home of a Salon owner who reopened in spite of lockdown mandates.
In retaliation, the Salon owner is suing the state for $100,000 in damages.
Stories of anti-lockdown protests and legal actions against state governments aren’t exactly uncommon at this time and that’s a good thing. These would-be tyrants are pushing harder than they’ve ever pushed before to grow their power and make you subjects instead of citizens. Their biggest weakness is you and the Constitution.
Defy and fight back.