The Problem with Passivity

If you aren’t okay with murder, then don’t murder anyone.

Something tells me that this statement would not be a popular political position to take. Or maybe it would. I can hear it framed in an all too-familiar tone: “How could you be so close-minded as to allow your worldview to influence your political stance on murder? You can’t control me and tell me I can’t murder anyone. Everyone should have the right to murder whomever they want.”

This viewpoint in general is, in fact, quite popular today in politics. So many hot-button issues seem to be easily solved if everyone could just have the right to make whatever moral decisions they want. Instead of actively enforcing legislation for or against a topic, many people opt for a passive stance, where individualism reigns supreme. Above all, it is critically important that any type of religious worldview stay out of the political arena. Once morals get involved, a democracy becomes a theocracy, and political policy becomes guided by emotion instead of reason. Religion serves a destructive, constricting role, and society can progress only without the bonds of morals and doctrine.

If you aren’t okay with robbery, then don’t rob anyone.

There seems, however, to be something wrong with being so passive about individual freedoms. The laws of a society serve to protect its citizens’ rights, but they also serve to prevent and minimize wrong. We use police and courts to administer justice and evaluate crimes. There is a term for letting everyone make all their own choices – anarchy. The government has put restrictions on what we cannot do, and it encourages us to help others live according to its laws. Our society has declared that we must act out against what we think is wrong.

But how can you assert what is wrong without a worldview? Somehow the belief that killing and theft are wrong has snuck into the worldview- free zone of politics. The political sphere has implicitly agreed to some sort of moral code; otherwise, the government would cease to function. It has established that there are evils in the world (most people, I think, wouldn’t be shocked to hear this), and what one views as evil, one should try to prevent. It holds to a worldview that wrongs should be actively fought against.

If you aren’t okay with slavery, then don’t enslave anyone.

History has shown how some of the most egregious crimes have perpetuated because the government avoided action. Our governmental structure naturally resists change – consider the mere twenty-seven amendments to our Constitution in over two hundred years, or simply turn on the news and count all the laws not being passed. Only when a small but growing group of abolitionists spoke out did the issue of slavery get moved to the political limelight. Only when suffragists campaigned for equal representation did women gain the right to vote. The government’s biggest accomplishments have their origins in its citizens who have been active in opposing what they viewed as a moral wrong.

Now in a historical turn of events, the activists of yesterday have become the passivists of today. Championing nothing is in vogue. Now it’s best to let everybody make their own moral decisions – well, some of their own moral decisions. Only the moral decisions that the “non-worldview” doesn’t consider to be wrong. Because let’s face it: murder, theft, and slavery are still wrongs. Moral wrongs. The amoral worldview can’t seem to shake itself of morals. It’s only the more controversial issues that should be left alone, free of religion. Only some moral issues should be moral issues.

The passive worldview is really its own worldview in disguise, asserting “freedom” and “individualism” as euphemisms for “morally OK”. Above all, it tries to push religion out of politics, because its morals differ from religious morals. It’s not a new, progressive way of participating in government. It’s a cleverly framed argument for accepting a different moral code while pretending not to. It’s not a good excuse to subordinate your beliefs. It’s not a good excuse to be passive.

If you aren’t okay with evil, then are you going to do something about it?  


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