The Courage to be on the 'Wrong Side of History'

June 25, 2015

Any time now, the Supreme Court of the United States will likely announce a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. This, even though majorities of Americans, everywhere across the nation, voted against it.

The liberal advocates will seem to have won at last, just as they always planned - through the courts, bypassing the will of the people.

There is no question that this ruling will be a serious low point for conservatives in America. There could hardly be a bigger morale-buster.

This ruling will also mark the start of a new era in America. It is no secret what will come next. We have other countries for that - such as Canada, as I have written about before.

All the rational arguments for marriage as defined between a man and a woman will fall away into the abyss. Not because they were wrong, but because no one will be listening anymore. Why consider the arguments, when an irreversible decision has already been made? It will seem to be time to conform, not to revisit the decision.

From now on, same-sex marriage will appear to be on the "right side of history". Even many conservatives will jump ship, since the alternative will be political and professional suicide.
What happens next? Where will we go from here? 

Ryan T. Anderson has predicted that this ruling will be the start of a new culture war, similar to the war over abortion. Or, think of it as an enlargement of the existing war - it will now encompass several issues at once. Check out his response here:

Ryan Anderson's response sounds about right. It also sounds exhausting.

Look far ahead. Expect a long haul. 

Once a Constitutional right is given, how can it be taken back? A turnaround will not come swiftly. It may not come in one or two generations. Anderson suggests four generations, but it may well be longer. What if it takes 300 years, or 500 years, for people to become so fed up, disillusioned and worn out with trying to outrun nature and reality, and with suffering from the inevitable negative consequences, that they finally choose to return to the natural order of things?

It is certain that one day, the time will come when the boomerang of public hysteria will find another pet cause. People will look back at the first century in the third millenium, they will shake their heads, and they will say "Tut tut, how could those people have been so foolish back then?"

The truth always triumphs in the end. But looking back at human history, the truth often doesn't seem to be in any hurry.

Until then, we will need mostly COURAGE. 

The courage to be on the "wrong" side of history.

For young people, the choice between following the truth and reaching for success will be particularly acute. 

As Ryan Shinkel writes in Public Discourse:
The phrase “the wrong side of history” ...amounts, in effect, to the threat that “people won’t like you.” If you think same-sex marriage is an oxymoron and no-fault divorce should be reformed, then no New York cocktail parties for you.
Yet there is a deeper threat as well: not only will people not like you, but you will be socially excluded from prestigious jobs, awards, societies, or—like Brendan Eich—perhaps even the very company you helped create. This “arc of history” narrative is used to legitimize the vigilante justice wielded against the bigoted foes of progress. Because the future will inevitably turn toward “equality,” we are told, millennials who stand in the way have no future. They will be history. The majority of the Republican Party can be excused—they are from an older generation. But when you grow up in a time of progress, the revolution will not be merciful. 
This is a real fear among my likeminded friends, and it is demoralizing.
The intuition of Shinkel's generation is correct: the price of nonconformity is real.

And for that reason, many people will refuse to participate in fighting for the truth. They will choose to hide in their ordinary lives, to keep themselves busy with their day-to-day work, activities, family and friends. They will refuse to get "political".

We have seen this before. In Communist Czechoslovakia, as in all Communist countries, the same story was repeated. Only a handful of people actually became dissidents. The huge majority of people were silent and passive. They may have had many different excuses, but the main motivator was surely fear of the negative consequences of any action against the regime.

Notice this: once the costs of standing up against the regime dropped precipitously, and there was little risk in turning up to protest, hundreds of thousands suddenly crawled out of the woodwork and showed up in the streets to ring their keys against Communism.

The small and tortured band of dissidents must have been quite shocked to see such enormous turnouts in the city squares, people of all generations shouting "down with Communism". Why had these people been silent all these years? Why hadn't such a mass uprising happened decades ago?

Through fear, we imprison ourselves first. Because we don't take risks, the regime gets an easy victory.

This is the time for heroes. Maybe even for martyrs. 

Don't expect a swift win. Don't expect acclaim. This is not for spoils and glory. Expect a long, thankless trudge through the mud of life. Expect persecution. Expect that almost no one will understand you.

But continue on nonetheless. Because it is the right thing to do.
Moral courage means placing more value upon the integrity of conscience over the stability of external events: being denied tenure, a plum internship, some job, friends who cannot tolerate “bigoted” opinions . . . prudence is necessary, yet those of my generation who stand for what the family is, what marriage is, and what the foundational institutions of civil society rooted in our rational and social natures are, make possible a new counter-revolution.
Many of us may not live to see the return of sanity in public life. But we will have lived honourable lives, forging ahead on the side of truth and justice, laying the groundwork for that future time when this society finally sobers up from its present madness.

Early Christianity had as one of its symbols the phoenix, the magic bird that is reborn from the ashes of its predecesor. Let us revisit that symbol once again, and take it up as our own. The counter-revolution will begin to arise from the scattered ashes, the moment the old order has been cremated by the Supreme Court into oblivion.

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We provide commentary on the cultural decline of the Western world, from a conservative perspective.