A friend of mine asked me the following question a few days ago:
Do you think the founding of America was biblical at all, in terms of the American Revolution?
This is an excellent question right here. I love it when you guys ask me questions. Granted, this one has the potential to be pretty volatile, but I think with careful consideration and examination I can come to a decent answer here, so let’s give this one a try.
Obviously, as a nonviolent activist, I have some issues with war. I’m not very much of a pragmatist, and I don’t believe the ends justify the means every time (any of you who might try to quote Machiavelli on me should reconsider it and reread the Prince before you think it sounds like a good rebuttal). We must consider the end AND the means in all of our decision-making before going and doing something, and I don’t believe that human suffering is a means justified by any end (other than the Crucifixion, but that’s another story).
Let’s try to sum up some of the reasons for the American Revolution. Recalling my American History courses, one of the big nails in the coffin can be summed up in James Otis’ phrase, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” This is a statement I agree with. The American colonists payed heavy taxes for all sorts of goods as a result of multiple acts such as the Stamp Act. There was also the quartering of soliders in homes without notice (and at the expense of the citizen), but after much protest, the Quartering Act, as it was known, was repealed. Colonists protested any Tax Acts passed by the British government by boycott most of the time, all the while demanding representation in British Parliament (London claimed their representation was “virtual”…yeah.)
Obviously, there’s a great deal of tyranny going on here. Something needs to be done about this. Could it have been done nonviolently? It had a few nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to propel it forward, such as the Boston Tea Party. Ethan Allen took Fort Ticonderoga without a shot fired or a single casualty (though he DID have a big army behind him to do it). The rest of the Revolution…was pretty bloody.
It’s not that the concept of civil disobedience or nonviolent resistance was absent in this time; I’m sure many were familiar with Anabaptist positions on non-resistance (though probably looked at them like they were from Mars), but no doubt the predominant look at history through the lens of violent struggle showed that victory went to the country that fought harder. This is a mindset that still dominates governmental policy in just about every nation on Earth, and only within the last 100 years has begun to change (however slowly it might be changing).
Getting back to the original question: I honestly don’t have an answer as to whether or not the Revolution itself, as in American rebellion against British tyranny, was biblical or not. I acknowledge that taxation without representation is indeed tyranny (though some have indeed lived through worse tyranny than just taxation without representation, tyranny is tyranny), but my hang-up more comes with how Americans acted AFTER the Revolution. We had the opportunity to create a new nation, one with true tolerance and acceptance of all races, creeds and colors, and we kinda threw that notion out. We persecuted and slaughtered the indigenous peoples of this land and called it Manifest Destiny. We took people of a different color of skin, made them into property, and said they were only 3/5 of an individual. Though we made no established governmental religion, it was clear that Christianity was the only accepted religion, though the Enlightenment did produce its fair share of agnostics and atheists in our forefathers.
I do not know enough about the details and circumstances surrounding the spark of the Revolution to say that there was another way (though I’d like to believe there were). I do know this: it’s appalling to see a country built on the tenets of liberty and freedom deny it to so many. In the movie The Patriot, Mel Gibson’s character had an interesting line when asked if he would vote for or against a revolution:
Tell me, why should I trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away?
It seems to me that that was the result of the Revolution: a trade. One tyrant for many. Those who were fortunate enough to be white landowners over 21 may not have seen it that way, but as for everyone else, I have to wonder how free and liberated they felt.
On an unrelated note, I apologize for the lack of updates. Motivation escapes me these days, but I promise to bring you more posts and updates in the future. Thanks for stickin’ to me, those of you that did!