I recently had the unexpected experience of leaving Washington, D.C. encouraged. I saw change, and in the right direction. I have never given up hope on the prevailing of the American Republic or the ultimate preservation of the Constitution, but I admit I had begun to lose hope that any fundamental solutions would come from Washington. For decades, every visit I made to Washington left me more concerned about our Federal Government. So to leave Washington encouraged was a new experience for me. How did it happen?
Before answering that question, let me first state that I still don’t think the necessary answers or leadership for facing the important issues of these times are going to come from Washington, but instead will come from state and local levels. Even so, we cannot and should not give up on Washington. There is hope. There are signs of change—more than just having Republicans take over the House and Senate.
Last week I was asked to participate in a small summit of about twenty-five people with the theme of “Defeating Jihad,” hosted by Frank Gaffney of The Center for Security Policy. Frank gathered an impressive group from think tanks, media, members of Congress, several from the intelligence community, Lt. General (ret) Boykin, and two Rabbis. The discussion was substantial and robust from the beginning.
Senator Ted Cruz shared for about twenty minutes. Without notes or teleprompter, he demonstrated an impressive depth of understanding of the issue and proposed wise and workable solutions. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Governor Bobby Jindal, and Senator Marco Rubio also gave short addresses to the group. Geert Wilders from Holland and a British MP also contributed by Skype. All of these I have a great respect for and expected their input to be brilliant, and it was. However, my greatest encouragement came from the brilliance and depth of understanding shared by those I was not expecting much from.
I have known a lot of lawmakers and policy makers who have knowledge and even expertise in areas of importance for these times, but almost all have seemed ignorant about the threat of Islamic extremism. At a breakfast I attended with General Boykin for a number of lawmakers, as well as at the summit described above, some of these people demonstrated a remarkable depth of understanding about Islamic extremism, as well as a resolve to do something about it. I was more than impressed. How could such a transformation happen?
This change had to be the result of more than just the rise of ISIS. I think one major factor has been General Boykin spending two or three days a week in Washington for the last two and a half years, tirelessly meeting with lawmakers and policy makers, educating them, and bringing others in who also helped educate them. This persistence is paying off.
Twice on the first day I was there, Fox News asked General Boykin to appear on programs. These requests did not come at convenient times. After a long day when we were finally getting to his apartment, the second of these calls came in. General Boykin quickly changed clothes, and then we plowed back through the terrible D.C. traffic to have just five minutes on Hannity for him to share about his cause.
Others like Frank Gaffney, head of The Center for Security Policy, have relentlessly labored to educate lawmakers and policy makers in Washington and to sound the alarm about one of the greatest threats of our times. After years, people have started to notice that his warnings have been prophetic and accurate. Many are now listening. Frank is also the editor of the Team B II Report and other highly effective materials by top intelligence and security professionals on one of the greatest threats to our nation. The truth is starting to prevail, and we could very well see a tipping point with many on these crucial issues soon.
We have many more who are likewise patiently and effectively engaged on every level of government and influence. This is what it means to be salt and light. It is for finding, equipping, and helping to support such as these that The Oak Initiative was founded. Many have worked extremely hard and have seen little or no fruit, but it does not mean there will not be fruit. In fact, we have the great encouragement and promise of I Corinthians 15:58:
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Winston Churchill foresaw the threat Nazis were to the world years before anyone else of position or influence did. He faithfully sounded the alarm even though almost everyone ridiculed him for it. Some have said the more he was lampooned, the more resolve it produced in him. Perhaps this helped, but it was not ridicule that drove Churchill—it was his love for his country and what he saw and understood to be the greatest threat to it. Then, almost overnight, virtually the whole nation that had caricatured and made fun of Churchill realized he had been right all along. The lampooning immediately turned into a great respect for his courage and integrity. Then the nation that had ridiculed him for so long asked him to lead them.
I know quite a few who have likewise been trying to warn the world about the threat of Islamic extremism. They have endured much more than slander—they had to live under constant threats. However, the whole world is now starting to wake up, even if it seems our President and his Administration will to be the last to do so.
As we are engaged in the struggle at any level, we need to keep in mind the great tipping points in history have rarely come from the majority. Some of the most profound cultural and political changes have come because of a tiny but resolute minority. Karl Marx rightly perceived that the 2% who were passionate would dominate the 98% who were indifferent. This was proved when just twenty thousand Bolsheviks took over Russia, one of the largest, most populous, and powerful nations of the time. This can work for good or for evil.
We must not be deceived into the false mentality that it takes a majority to accomplish something. Just one high-impact person with courage and resolve can be worth hundreds or even thousands of lukewarm people. Studies have shown the numbers needed to bring radical cultural change can be as little as the square root of 1% of the population. This means just one hundred people can bring radical change to a million. There are some biblical and historical cases where far less accomplished this.
America is now known around the world as a homosexual nation dominated and run by homosexuals. In truth, homosexuals are less than 2% of the population. This tiny group of people is now dominating much of the cultural conversation and agenda in America, even when their values remain in contrast to those of the majority of Americans. Clearly, the majority holds to their values without much conviction, which is why so much of Islam refers to America as “the great Satan.” But is that who we really are, or is it just who we appear to be now because some very small groups are so vocal?
Consider The American Revolution. The patriots who were seeking independence probably never numbered more than a third of the population of the colonies. Those loyal to the King of England, the “loyalists”, were likewise about the same percentage of the population. Roughly 40% of the population was undecided and would waver between the other two sides mostly based on who seemed to be winning at the time. Better than numbers, what the patriots had was depth of conviction, unflinching resolve, and endurance. That is what we need more than numbers.
Just about everyone is starting to understand that Islamic extremism, defined as those seeking to impose Sharia law, is in fundamental conflict with basic Western values and culture. Even so, the tepid reaction of the West to this increasing threat of our times is telling. This is the result of the West drifting from its core values. So a major part of our strategy for defeating Islamic extremism must be fortifying our own values.
It is a basic military principle that you cannot defeat an enemy you do not see, so identifying the enemy is basic to winning any war. However, there is much more required to defeat an enemy than identifying it. In order to win, you will need better people, better weapons, better strategies, and better tactics. First, we need depth of conviction, unfailing resolve, and endurance that only comes from having a deep love of and commitment to what we are fighting for.
The jihadist goal is to destroy Western civilization. Their strategy begins with destroying America, because America is viewed as the power center for Western civilization. We may be that to our enemy, but what are we to our own people? What defines us as Americans?
We need a new resolve for knowing our history. The most effective way to kill a plant is to cut it off from its roots; and the most effective way to destroy a nation is to cut it off from its history, our roots. Our history is under constant assault from those seeking to revise it to fit their narrative. This most deadly poison will destroy our country if not countered.
We need a new resolve for knowing the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Spurgeon once said that he could find ten men who would die for The Bible for every one that would read it. This may be why many who are the most zealous for The Bible often distort its message the most—they have not actually read what is in it. How is it that those who claim to do what is “constitutional” are so often doing the opposite of what is in the Constitution and are, thereby, doing the most damage to it? We should start requiring everyone who swears an oath to defend the Constitution to at least read it first.
We need a new resolve for understanding, loving, and being committed to liberty. The cause that fueled The American Revolution was the belief all men were created equal as far as their rights and should, therefore, be treated equally under the law. That is still a worthy cause. A commitment to this cause requires we first understand it.
We must also be committed to truth and integrity. This would also cause us to acknowledge that for much of our history the Constitution did not work for many Americans, such as African Americans and Native Americans. This is an example of how you can have the best form of government but still have bad government if you do not have good people in it.
We may have the best Constitution, but if you do not have the right people applying it, it will do little good and can be used for evil if it is only applied to certain citizens. As the notable historian Will Durant observed, “Caesar sought to change men by changing institutions. Jesus changed institutions by changing men.” You can have the best documents in the world and have them used for evil if you do not have good men holding them. The truly good will, at least, have the integrity to know what they are upholding and defending.
So while fighting the threats from Islamists who would impose Sharia law that is contrary to our Constitution, we need to fortify our knowledge of the Constitution and our core values. Every American citizen should be educated on the Constitution. Defending the Constitution also means ensuring every citizen is given the full benefits of their citizenship under it. We must resolve we will do more than just say that all men are created equal, but we will ensure all men are treated equally.
This is one of our basic resolves as The Oak Initiative—to defend our Constitution with education about it, to defend the rights of all citizens to the liberty provided in our Constitution, and to defend our core values by constantly promoting them. Will you join us?