A nation of protesters

Truth Over Tyranny: Biblical wisdom for defeating the Technocrats.

These are my insights for defeating the Transhumanist Technocracy movement, based on the teachings of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, on the weekly Bible portion.

Here are some questions about political dissent. They are important, because the answers define the moral character of a society.

For example:

Do we have a right to protest the actions of people in power?
To take it a step further – do we have a moral obligation to challenge authority?
And the deepest question of all: does God expect us to accept the status quo all the time?

We already know how the Technocrats would answer — they want a society in which:

The government controls everything;
Disobeying the government is a crime;
And people are obligated to report “traitors to the State.”

This approach does not seem to pass moral muster, by any stretch of the imagination. So what approach does the Bible use? After all, it does provide the foundation for Western morality.

What is the Biblical approach to political protest?

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks provides us with answers, in his commentary on Parashat Vayera called “Answering the Call.”

He highlights the first political protest recorded in the Bible: the Patriarch Abraham’s challenge to God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah:

“… in this week’s parsha of Vayera, comes the great moment: a human being challenges God Himself for the very first time. God is about to pass judgment on Sodom. Abraham, fearing that this will mean that the city will be destroyed, says:

“’Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do justice?’” Gen. 18:23–25

This protest was actually something God wanted!

“This is a remarkable speech. By what right does a mere mortal challenge God Himself?

“The short answer is that God Himself signalled that he should. Listen carefully to the text:

“‘Then the Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him’ … Then the Lord said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached Me.’ Gen. 18:17–21

“Those words, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?’ are a clear hint that God wants Abraham to respond; otherwise why would He have said them?”

Abraham’s challenge to God over the fate of people, stands in stark contrast to the acquiescence of Noah when he was faced with a similar decree:

“The story of Abraham can only be understood against the backdrop of the story of Noah. There too, God told Noah in advance that he was about to bring punishment to the world.

“‘So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’Gen. 6:13

“Noah did not protest. To the contrary, we are told three times that Noah ‘did as God commanded him’ (Gen. 6:22; 7:5; 7:9). Noah accepted the verdict. Abraham challenged it…”

But the question is – why? Why did God want Abraham to protest His actions? it was because God wanted humanity to create societies in which people challenged the status quo:

“… Why did God call on Abraham to challenge Him? Was there anything Abraham knew that God didn’t know? That idea is absurd. The answer is surely this: Abraham was to become the role model and initiator of a new faith, one that would not defend the human status quo but challenge it.

“Abraham had to have the courage to challenge God if his descendants were to challenge human rulers, as Moses and the Prophets did. Jews do not accept the world that is. They challenge it in the name of the world that ought to be. This is a critical turning point in human history: the birth of the world’s first religion of protest – the emergence of a faith that challenges the world instead of accepting it.

“Abraham was not a conventional leader. He did not rule a nation. There was as yet no nation for him to lead. But he was the role model of leadership as Judaism understands it. He took responsibility. He acted; he didn’t wait for others to act. Of Noah, the Torah says, ‘he walked with God’ (Gen. 6:9). But to Abraham, God says, ‘Walk before Me,’ (Gen. 17:1), meaning: be a leader. Walk ahead. Take personal responsibility. Take moral responsibility. Take collective responsibility.”

I would add this: challenging the status quo is essential when we are faced with the encroaching tyranny of the Technocrats. If we keep accepting the “new normal,” we will be relinquishing our power — and our rights, and our property, and even our children — to the control of the State. God wants us to take responsibility for our life, not hand it over to others.

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