Canada in a Civil War of Ideas

As citizens of Canada, we have been called to “stand on guard” for our country. There has never been a greater need for national vigilance than now. Canada is under siege. We have never faced such a clear and present danger.

You may ask, “Why the great concern? Why stand on guard? What are we defending Canada against? Where is the threat coming from? Who, or what, is our enemy?”

You may remind me that the War of 1812 was our first and last major threat from a sovereign power, against The United States of American, and we won. You may point to the world’s longest, undefended border, along our 49th parallel, and to the longevity of peace Canada has known within its sphere of sovereignty.

However, there are many things that cross our borders that cannot be easily monitored. They enter our nation inconspicuously. Their source of origin is seldom determined. Their purpose for coming is not checked. The baggage associated with their coming is not processed.

They enter at key points, gain access to physical territory, swarm our bastions of power, and then exert an influence that has the potential of dominating our nation and deciding our destiny. They do not show their colors right away. Sometimes, their presence takes years to manifest in our culture, and generations can pass before the full impact can be assessed.

What deeply concerns me is that much of this is happening without one word of dissent, one act of resistance, or one spirited charge to attempt to question what I believe to be potential threats to our society. Instead, they are met with a hand shake and a smile, with a polite “welcome to Canada,” not realizing that our peace as a people may be dramatically shifted forever.

I am not referring to a people group or some foreign power. What I am speaking about are ideas. Napoleon stated that ideas were more powerful than armies. Victor Hugo stated that there was one thing stronger than all the armies of the world and that was an idea whose time had come.

Ideas affect individuals, but they also change worlds.  Ideas have created, and now control the society and culture that we live in. When an idea is conceived, it is called a thought. When thought evolves, it is termed a concept. Those ideas eventually become somebody’s ideology or reality.

There is a new book out entitled The Discovery of Society, written by sociologist Professor Randall Collins. In it he confides that culture is defined, on average, by less than 500 intellectuals. He stated that books and speeches don’t change culture, adopting key ideas within a network of influencer’s changes culture. Ideas must then be institutionalized or take on a public expression. Then, when sufficient money is invested, ideas become a part of culture.

The civil war I refer to in this article’s title is a “war of conflicting and dividing ideas.” This war of ideas is real. There are winners and losers. There are enemies and there are allies. Real blood is shed. There are POW’s. There is post-traumatic stress to deal with. The cost of this war will be hefty, possibly more expensive than any generation can bear. Most of the cost will be passed on to our children.

There is a book out entitled The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. In it he shares how little things can make a big difference. You will remember how a levee breakdown during hurricane Katrina opened up the city of New Orleans to terrible devastation. We all know that a small virus can do a lot of damage to a lot of people in a short time.

Ideas, both good and bad, can be viral too. Ideas produce “tipping points” in a culture. They can create a critical mass in a moment of time. They can quickly reach a boiling point. They can irrevocably change our thinking and reasoning. They can charge our culture with emotion and actions that either build or destroy society.

Only Canadian history will tell us how ideas like – “a baby is not a person until it is outside the womb” or “child discipline (spanking) is child abuse” – will affect our culture. They could create a tipping point from which our society has no recourse or point of return.

I believe that some of the ideas we are facing today are “enemies at our gates,” and Canadians are being called upon to “stand on guard for our nation” like at no other time. May the tipping point we experience in the next few years in Canada be a tipping point of righteousness, justice and civility.