I remember clearly stepping on to the college campus in 1971. I was the odd student out. I had short hair. I wore slacks, a button-down Arrow dress shirt, and wing-tipped shoes. I shaved. I wasn’t radical about anything. But I was found standing in the middle of a crowd of people who appeared radicalized about everything, from their thinking to their behavior to their appearance and their speech. Pot and cocaine were readily available. Students sleeping with professors, not unheard of. Condemning America and promising not to repay student loans, drunkenness and co-ed bathrooms and “free love”, all the new normal. Children, with only a few years of nominal wholesomeness to their credit, walked out of high school and were cast into a Fellini movie. Quite a few did not survive. The devil makes poison look like champagne.
This was the harvest of the 60s, the counter culture embraced and promoted by people like Saul Alinsky, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Bill Ayers, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi and legions of radical Leftists embracing Soviet, Chinese, Korean and Cuban communism, filled with LSD dreams of utopia, in truth, little more than hyper-sexualized flesh monsters focused entirely on self-satisfaction, pretending altruism.
College is a place to learn how to learn, I was told. Here, said my counter culture professors, we want to help you acquire critical thinking skills. I came to understand their definition of “critical” was not the ordinary meaning in the context of education. When they used the word it meant “expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments,” focusing there, using it as a weapon. I soon learned one was subject to criticism, even condemnation, for failing to toe the party line. If your thinking did not line up, you deserved criticism. Therefore, I learned the Left knows very well how to bully and brainwash. I also learned the Right made it easy for them by responding with overt civility, ineffective in dealing with barbarism. The Left has prevailed because the Right quailed. (Reagan was the last eagle.)
Looking back, it becomes clear, once again, a particular viciousness was unleashed sometime in the early 60s, the kind of cruelty that appears dressed up like a favorite uncle or aunt. Everything is fishing trips, ice cream and bedtime stories, until a dissenting opinion is expressed, and then, Mayberry becomes Dachau. For many years, uncle and auntie on campus demanded compliance, pretending to be non-conformists. We were required to be ‘nice,’ despite the abuse and manipulation. “Nice” became the only virtue, and conformity the only proof of virtue.
That particular viciousness has flowered into unspeakable violence, throughout the West, and around the world. A television pundit, listening to the complaint of a Benghazi Gold Star Mom recently, said he felt like beating her to death. A grandmother at work in Oklahoma is beheaded by a Muslim. An elderly lady, in her Georgia home, beaten and set on fire. Babies are murdered in the womb. Mass murders are reported almost daily. And the Left marches forward, insisting we be “nice”. Today, they call it political correctness, the embrace of multiculturalism, the demand we conform to their new world order, that we do this willingly, with a cooperative smile. Object and you are immediately convicted of “hate” speech, proving your unworthiness.
It took me 10 years to recover from college. College did not prepare me for life, or help me determine my life’s work or equip me to pursue my dreams. College destroyed hope. I became an angry, critical, cynical Leftist, a journalist with an axe to grind, trying to be cool, anything but calm and collected. Turning to Christ healed me although some wounds take time to heal. For the last 30 years I’ve become more and more Christ-centered, and more and more patriotic, walking a line in complete conflict with prevailing sentiment and popular trends.
And I’m here to tell you “nice” does not work.
Leftists and their jihadist allies look upon “nice” as weakness, and exploit it. They understand and respond to only one thing: strong opposition. This does not mean we use their tactics and become hate-filled tyrants, but it does mean we understand the enemy and his plan. It does mean we take a strong stand for righteousness and exemplify real love, the kind of self-sacrificing love that speaks the Truth without apology. We have failed to confront evil aggressively and so evil confronts us, relentlessly. Did FDR fail to confront Hitler and Tojo? Did Reagan refuse to confront the Evil Empire? Why then are we comfortable with Obama’s failure to confront Jihad?
These are geo-political matters, but are they so different from personal interactions or spiritual considerations? The age old battle between good and evil operates on both planes.
“Nice” does not right a wrong or pave the way to heaven. Jesus was always loving and kind, but he was also forthright. He never minced words about sin and evil. Out of his great love, he confronts us and calls us to repentance, even calling us evil at certain intersections. He does this to save us from death and hell.
John the Baptist, the one Jesus called greatest among men, was not “nice”. He lovingly warned people in order to save them, calling them vipers, telling the truth. He confronted the king day and night, yelling for repentance outside the palace, and lost his head in a demonstration of real love.
The Apostle Paul was not “nice” when warning the Church against quarrels, godlessness and false teachers. He was bold and confrontational and also lost his head.
Nathan was not “nice” in fingering David’s sin and calling him to repentance.
Moses was not “nice” confronting Pharaoh, or in confronting rebellious Jews in the desert.
All the Prophets raged against sin and evil in their days and were killed for it, the ultimate act of real love, sacrificing one’s self in the name of salvation, real love finding its ultimate expression in the Cross.
For at least 55 years in America, Christians have opted for “nice” instead of boldly speaking the truth in real love, as exemplified by all the heroes of the Scripture. And what have we to show for it? Practicing homosexuals in the pulpit. Churches condemning Israel. Churches funding abortion. Churches accommodating Sharia, even promoting it. Satanists conducting ‘invocations’ at government meetings. Christian leaders endorsing the ungodly. Churches denying Christ. Pastors recommending “nice”.
We act as if there is no heaven to gain, no hell to shun, that heaven on earth is our aim, that “nice” is our creed. Remember the road to hell being paved with good intentions? Yes, as it says in Proverbs, sometimes the soft word breaks a bone, but more often, a hard word brings conviction leading to godly repentance. Would we know and proclaim the Truth no matter the cost that all who respond might be set free? Or do we prefer patting people on the head as they sin their way to hell?
The questions then are these: are you more concerned about a lost soul or your personal comfort? Are you willing to carry your Cross in order to help save another, or is being nice more important? Are you preoccupied with theological quarrels or with multiplying talents? Is it finally time to repent of the sin of “nice” and start preaching the true Gospel, knowing it will be offensive, but doing so boldly, in love, without apology?
If being “nice” cut the mustard, there was no need for the Cross.