Monday, October 18, 2021

Op-Ed: The hottest place in hell

| September 17, 2021 1:00 AM

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said that the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.

Physical courage is required to fight those human predators, both foreign and domestic, who would feast upon our treasure of freedom. Social courage is necessary in anyone who refuses to follow the expected paths in life offered by birth circumstances to go their own way.

Most important of all types of courage is moral courage. This is the ability to say that two-plus-two equals four, even when those who can hurt you demand that you embrace their lies that the answer is whatever they deem it to be. Or else. Moral courage is rooted in a fundamental decision to be loyal to the truth of one’s perceptions and convictions, no matter the cost.

Moral courage is not the brittle Narcissism of those who conflate their pet preferences with objective reality. Rather, it involves an honest and humble recognition of one’s fallibility and personal limitations, which inevitably leads to genuine tolerance. At the same time, a person aspiring to be morally courageous categorically refuses to speak falsely or violate the dictates of their conscience to obtain the convenience of conformity or the illusion of security.

In so many words, as the movie “Rob Roy” has it, honor is the gift that a man gives to himself. Honor is always paid for in pain, because human society is constituted to reward conformity and not conviction.

This moment in history cries out for people of integrity and moral courage! Locally and nationally, socially and structurally, our American Republic is divided like at no time since 1860. Americans increasingly embrace mutually exclusive interpretations on the essential meaning of identity, freedom, success, virtue and acceptable social norms. When we have no common convictions, we have no shared culture. Without some kind of shared sense of the meaning of life, there literally can be no “us.”

At times like these, it is self-indulgent beyond belief for candidates to put themselves forward for elected office without unambiguously declaring their political creed. Citizens have an absolute need to know whether a given candidate supports a view of North Idaho specifically and of the USA in general, that is traditionally recognizable. Voters need to know if the person they are considering wants to replace our naturally evolved iteration of Western Civilization with some vision of a new and improved Utopianism.

More than anything else, we need to know if our candidates have the moral courage of their convictions. Will they stand up under the pressures of office and fulfill the promises they made while campaigning? Or, will they try to finesse their way through controversies without taking a stand in order to accrue more personal power? Are they worthy of being entrusted to act in office and stand for something more than their own interests? Or, will they play the game and go along to get along; focusing on pleasing the power brokers more than being faithful to their constituents?

Now, more than ever, no voter should quietly accept any candidate who refuses to proudly proclaim their political philosophy. No one should allow anyone to achieve office as a “non-partisan.” The stakes are too high! We each must demand that any candidate who wants our support takes a stand, chooses a side, and risks alienating some in order to be honest about who they really are and why they are pursuing elected office.

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In Maine and then Idaho, Ralph K. Ginorio has taught the history of Western Civilization to high school students for nearly a quarter century. He is an “out-of-the-closet” Conservative educator with experience in special education, public schools and charter schools, grades 6-12. He has lived in Coeur d’Alene since 2014. Email: