“I’m not right-wing or left-wing, I consider myself more of a centrist.”. So said one of my acquaintances during a recent conversation. That’s not the first time I’ve heard such a statement or similar expression. Statements like that are nothing more than an illusion of neutrality. The truth is that it is far more common for people to say they are a moderate this or that than it is for them to pick a definitive side. We’ve seen this play out for decades as people publicly declare themselves to be “undecided”, “centrist” or “neutral”.

It’s not all that big of a surprise that when pressed to take sides most folks will squirm around. They try to stay in the middle or remain neutral. During the last several years I’ve penned articles that discussed the “reasonableness disease”. People want their peers to see them as reasonable. So they deliberately avoid choosing sides or they will temper their beliefs with blanket statements such as “well, I can see both sides”. Or “I’m not saying you’re right or wrong” and the famous “…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Historical Precedent

It’s easy to fall into the moderate or centrist trap. No one wants others, including strangers, to dislike them. People by their very nature crave acceptance and seek to be well-liked. When you pick a side you automatically set yourself up for scorn or ridicule from the opposing faction.

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Consider the birth of our nation. In 1775, statistically only about one-third of the American population favored complete separation from Mother England. A full third were Tories that vehemently opposed independence. The last group consisted of centrists who simply held out to see what would happen. Thus, go with the flow. Even after April 19th 1775, with the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, there were still members of the Continental Congress who wished to make peace with King George and come to some kind of power-sharing agreement.

An Artificial Life

When it comes to important matters, such as the future of one’s nation, I would never suggest that a thinking man rush to take sides without careful consideration. Mob rule and emotionally-driven decisions more often than not end very badly. We should base decisions about where to place one’s allegiance upon knowledge of the past and present. As well as experience and the moral principles upon which a person grew up with.

Unfortunately, far too many citizens in the 21st Century have precious little knowledge or education about the past or history. Many of these same people live an artificial life void of principle where their only stimuli comes electronically or from some synthesized opiate. Consequences for poor or bad decisions receive nullification by the nanny state.

Up until this recent juncture in history, if a man made bad choices he was left to suffer the results of those choices. The drunkard or drug-addict did not get a reward resulting in subsidized housing, food, and medical care. We did not allow the thief to apologize and then release them back into society with little more than a scolding. We did not allow the rapist and murderer to excuse their heinous acts with pretexts about a tough childhood. Nor their emotional distress or mental confusion.

When a nation’s citizens feel no real attachment or responsibility for their decisions and choices it is no wonder that they feel no true allegiance. Or, more properly, they only feel allegiance to the entity that continues to offer them shelter from responsibility.

The Times have Changed

When your family’s future is secure and there is no demonstrable threat to your community or nation, choosing sides isn’t all that big of a deal. When the opposing parties have the same end goal but differing opinions about how to reach that goal, again declaring allegiance doesn’t seem all that pressing.

In my youth I recall my parents and grandparents debating over supporting Republican or Democrat candidates. However, there was never really a doubt in their minds that both parties supported the U.S. Constitution. As well as the principles upon which this nation was founded.

Today the situation has changed. Mothers and fathers have serious doubts about their family’s future and security. Our nation is being threatened from without and within. There are those within the government bureaucracy who see the U.S. Constitution not as a framework and foundation but as an impediment to their desires. To these people, the rule of law is something that needs to be gotten around or ignored. At one time the rights and security of the individual were paramount. Now the selfish and short-sighted desires of the collective take precedence over the outnumbered individual.

The lazy, self-centered, and devious seek to align themselves with a bureaucracy ever bent on greater and more expansive power. An elementary school child who seeks popularity and acceptance at all costs. Citizens do the same as they seek to align themselves with whoever promises the most cookies.

Free cookies and popularity don’t build and secure nations. Only hard work, sacrifice, and risk-taking can build and secure a community and a nation. The men who founded the greatest nation this world has ever known risked everything. Up to and including their lives, to secure individual liberty for future generations.

Time to Choose

While the centrist or moderate stance is genuinely seductive it is only a viable option during times of genuine peace and security. At which point, neutrality can certainly be an option. However, that description in no way applies to our current situation. Refusing to believe in the devil doesn’t negate his existence. Evil exists whether you decide to face it or not. When the wolf has your leg in his mouth you cannot save yourself by willing him away. Distracting yourself with electronic stimuli or naïve disbelief changes nothing.

Throughout history, the reasonable moderate has met the wolf with a look of genuine surprise and disbelief. The wolf sees the moderate man simply as food and has no regard for his neutrality. When faced with the cold reality of their impending doom moderate men flee. They flee toward those they once scorned as “closed-minded” or “extremist”.

Why should either side receive the neutral man? The moderate is like tepid water, neither hot nor cold. When a person drinks tepid water he spits it out. As the time for taking sides arrives, the neutral or moderate will be trusted by neither. The centrist will both be enslaved and subjugated or they will be despised and forever viewed as suspect.

A man should be thoughtful and make his decisions with an understanding of history, experience, and his own moral principles. Refusing to make a choice or attempting to remain neutral is a childish illusion. Adults have to make hard choices and, like it or not, you will eventually have to pick a side. Make your choice wisely for the time for neutrality has come to an end.

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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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