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Failing our way to success

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.

Those of us who have become active to protect our freedom, know this will be a multi-generational war. The technocrats have spent decades infiltrating our institutions to promote tyranny; it will take us at least as long to restore freedom and repair the damage they have caused. Along the way there will be many, many failures and setbacks. Such is the nature of every successful effort: we fail our way to success.

This is something every successful leader knows, in every sector of society; from business, to government, to sports, to the military. And it is a lesson that we Freedom Activists of today need to take to heart. We become 100% committed to winning battles over specific elections, court cases, policies. But we also know you can’t win them all. So what do we do when the going gets tough? Will the tough keep going, even if we lose that all-important election or court case?

This is a question that great leaders have asked themselves throughout the ages. Even the Biblical Moses — the first leader of the Jewish nation, and greatest of all prophets — struggled with failure. He had to dig deep to find the persistence and determination required to persevere in spite of all his setbacks.

His story can inspire us to keep on keeping on as we work to win this war. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks gives us highlights of the tale in his commentary on Parashat Vaera called ‘Overcoming Setbacks.”

All beginnings are tough, and Moses’ start as the Jewish leader was no exception:

“At first, Moses’ mission seemed to be successful. He had feared that the people would not believe in him, but God had given him signs to perform, and his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf. Moses ‘performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.’ (Ex. 4:30-31)

“But then things start to go wrong, and continue going wrong. Moses’ first appearance before Pharaoh is disastrous. Pharaoh refuses to recognise God and he rejects Moses’ request to let the people travel into the wilderness. Then he makes life worse for the Israelites. They must still make the same quota of bricks, but now they must also gather their own straw. The people turn against Moses and Aaron: ‘May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.’ (Ex. 5:21)

“Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh to renew their request. They perform a miraculous act – they turn a staff into a snake – but Pharaoh is unimpressed. His own magicians can do likewise. Next they bring the first of the 10 Plagues, but again Pharaoh is unmoved. He will not let the Israelites go. And so it goes on, nine times. Moses does everything in his power to make Pharaoh relent and finds that nothing makes a difference. The Israelites are still slaves.”

Not surprisingly, Moses feels dejected, and is filled with self-doubt:

“We sense the pressure Moses is under. After his first setback at the end of last week’s parsha, he had turned to God and bitterly asked: ‘Why, Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Is this why You sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all.’ (Ex. 5:22-23)

“In this week’s parsha of Vaera, even when God reassures him that he will eventually succeed, he replies, ‘If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?’” (Ex. 6:12).

This is a fate that has been suffered by leaders throughout history, into modern times:

“There is an enduring message here. Leadership, even of the very highest order, is often marked by failure. The first Impressionists had to arrange their own art exhibition because their work was rejected by the established Paris salons. The first performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring caused a riot, with the audience booing throughout. Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime (despite the fact that his brother, Theo, was an art dealer).

“So it is with leaders. Lincoln faced countless setbacks during the Civil War. He was a deeply divisive figure, hated by many in his lifetime. Gandhi failed in his dream of uniting Muslims and Hindus together in a single nation. Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison, accused of treason and regarded as a violent agitator. Winston Churchill was regarded as a spent force in politics by the 1930s, and even after his heroic leadership during the Second World War he was voted out of office at the first General Election once the war was over. Only in retrospect do heroes seem heroic and the many setbacks they faced reveal themselves as stepping-stones on the road to victory.”

But for true leaders, these failures are simply a test of their character:

“In our discussion of parshat Vayetse, we saw that in every field – high or low, sacred or secular – leaders are tested not by their successes but by their failures. It can sometimes be easy to succeed. The conditions may be favourable. The economic, political or personal climate is good. When there is an economic boom, most businesses flourish. In the first months after a general election, the successful leader carries with him or her the charisma of victory. In the first year, most marriages are happy. It takes no special skill to succeed in good times.

“But then the climate changes. Eventually it always does. That is when many businesses, and politicians, and marriages fail. There are times when even the greatest people stumble. At such moments, character is tested. The great human beings are not those who never fail. They are those who survive failure, who keep on going, who refuse to be defeated, who never give up or give in. They keep trying. They learn from every mistake. They treat failure as a learning experience. And from every refusal to be defeated, they become stronger, wiser and more determined. That is the story of Moses’ life in both parshat Shemot and parshat Vaera.

“Jim Collins, one of the great writers on leadership, puts it well:

‘The signature of the truly great versus the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty, but the ability to come back from setbacks, even cataclysmic catastrophes, stronger than before …The path out of darkness begins with those exasperatingly persistent individuals who are constitutionally incapable of capitulation. It’s one thing to suffer a staggering defeat…and entirely another to give up on the values and aspirations that make the protracted struggle worthwhile. Failure is not so much a physical state as a state of mind; success is falling down, and getting up one more time, without end.'”

The bottom line is that “persistence pays:”

‘For many years, I kept on my desk a quote from Calvin Coolidge, sent by a friend who knew how easy it is to be discouraged. It said:

“’Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.’

“I would only add, ‘And siyata diShmaya, the help of Heaven.’ God never loses faith in us, even if we sometimes lose faith in ourselves.”

I would add this:

The last point by Rabbi Sacks is key. We are partners with God in the creation of history. He is the Senior Partner, and we are the Junior Partner. He has the final say over whether we win or lose. But He does not give us the chance to win unless He knows we are up to the challenge. If He has confidence in us, we should have confidence in ourselves. If we don’t, we simply have to ratchet up our game. If we treat every defeat as a stepping-stone to victory, we will eventually get there.

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