Flannery O’Connor wrote, “In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber.”
Here’s what she’s getting at: People who have left the Christian faith wish to retain the remnants of the Christian faith. They want beauty without truth. They want spirituality without religion. They want forgiveness without sacrifice and they want a life that has tenderness without toughness. They want Christianity without a cross, compassion without control and charity without discipline.
The liberal West has been driving on the fumes of Christianity for about a century now and the car won’t go much further.
We think all that matters is being tolerant, kind, compassionate, forgiving and by that what we mean is that we let anybody do whatever they want however they want because personal freedom is all that matters and “who am I to judge?”
The problem with this is that without the Christian faith there is soon no Christian morals. Why should a person be good if there is no God? As Dostoevsky said, “If there is no God everything is possible.”
When the only virtue left is tolerance and tenderness everybody gets away with everything and there’s no one to put on the brakes.
But finally people get fed up. They get tired of being compassionate, nice, forgiving and generous. Because the Christianity that told them to be kind, compassionate and tender has died out they ask themselves why they should continue to be compassionate, generous, kind, nice and forgiving.
They look around and start thinking that there are an awful lot of people who are taking advantage of their kind, compassionate, generous and caring tenderness, and they start resenting it. Furthermore, if they are working class people they start asking why they are being forced to be kind, generous, compassionate, welcoming and tender while their economic and political overlords don’t seem to be such kind, compassionate, caring and tenderhearted people.
Because the Christianity has died in their own hearts they start blaming others. They blame the foreigners. They blame the Muslims. They blame the blacks. They blame the whites. They blame the rich. They blame the poor. They blame the women. They blame the men. They blame the straights. They blame the gays. They blame the Jews. They blame the Christians.
From being tenderhearted and tolerant they do a sudden shift and wonder if tenderness is the only virtue left why they ought to be tender at all.
Then the shift is sudden and terrible. A whole population decides that it doesn’t want to be tender anymore. They decide that they have had enough. A whole nation or culture rises up and they say, “We’ve had enough. It’s time someone does something about the problem. We don’t want to be tenderhearted anymore. Now we need someone who is tough not tender.”
So a leader comes along who promises to make their nation great again. He promises to do something about the false tenderness. He promises to have some backbone and deal with the threat. He says, “No more Mister Nice Guy” and he means it and the people cry out for him to be their leader.
The first thing he does is he brings law and order. The police and the national guard are his friends. Continue Reading