You want me to eat what now?
Let’s say I tried to serve you a plate of dog poop for dinner. Obviously, you’d refuse it. What if I covered it up with whipped cream and chocolate sauce? I’m sure you still wouldn’t eat it knowing what was inside. Or perhaps if I offered you a billion dollars? Maybe? Okay, but does that change the fact that it’s poop, though?
The idea of a totalitarian government keeps getting sugar-coated and sold to appear palatable. But no matter how much they try to dress it up, it will always be a pile of… well, you know. Legendary men and women in history are the ones who took a stand and said, “No way am I eating that EVER, not even a little bit” and they are our heroes for it. They were called insubordinate and divisive by their adversaries. Today, those of us trying to carry their torch are described as close-minded, racist, facist, bigots, deplorables, and conspiracy theorists. A firm grasp on what we are fighting against, for and why is essential if we are to carry on. (if you missed it, you may also want to check out Erika’s most recent post and call to action!)
The Ancient Egyptians
So what does a totalitarian government look like? We don’t have to use our imagination here. There are many, many examples in history of it. The one that has me particularly fascinated right now is the 2000-year-reigning political and religious order of the Ancient Egyptians. Much of my insight into this provocative ancient culture is due to this excellent homeschool resource called Navigating the Worldviews of Egypt (book and DVD on sale for $20, I highly recommend it!):
Ancient Egyptian society was built just like its famous monuments: in the shape of a pyramid. The god-king pharaoh was at the top with no one to limit his power. Interestingly, they viewed time as one continuous cycle, starting over with each new pharoah. Rather than moving in a linear direction of progress for humankind, they seemed to prefer a giant hamster-wheel, spinning and spinning but never going anywhere. To preserve their pristine way of life, total submission and conformity was required from each citizen. Sounds oppressive? That’s because it was.
But hold on a minute! In exchange for decades of slave-like physical labor and perfect submission to strictly defined religious rituals and artistic expression, it appears as though the working-class citizens of Egypt lived secure and comfortable lives. Ancient Egyptians believed they were far superior than their neighbors and took great pride in their culture. And while their short time on earth was a hamster wheel, they were promised an eternal reward in the “afterlife” for being a good citizen – the cherry on top! Doesn’t that sound wonderful now?
Egyptian slaves had it made
Do a quick google search of “Were the Egyptian pyramids really built by slaves?” and you’ll find the ancient propaganda still packaging up this totalitarian civilization with a pretty bow:
“Slaves would never have been treated this well, so we think that these labourers were recruited from farms, perhaps from a region much further down the Nile, near Luxor. … The labourers would have been enticed by the mix of high-quality food and the opportunity to work on such a prestigious project.” –https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/were-the-egyptian-pyramids-built-by-slaves/
“These workers would have devoted their entire lives to the cause. While that doesn’t mean that there was no forced labor in the society, it does mean that there is no archaeological evidence that supports the notion that the slaves were subjected to consistent back-breaking work…These individuals adjusted quite well to Egyptian society, learned the language, and often married Egyptian women. Their ability to change into model Egyptian citizens often led to fantastic opportunities for slaves.” –https://www.historydefined.net/what-was-it-like-to-be-a-slave-in-ancient-egypt/
Fantastic opportunites for slaves? Hmm, something doesn’t smell right about that. Interesting how these articles failed to mention the political instructions passed down from father to son and future pharoah, Merikare, that reads, “A talker is a mischief-maker, suppress him, kill [him], erase his name, [destroy] his kinsfolk, suppress the remembrance of him and his partisans who love him…Bend the multitude and drive out hot temper from it.” (source) Best to leave that part out.
Tyranny is evil, no matter what
Here’s what a few freedom-lovers have to say about these “fantastic opportunities for slaves”:
“The greatest tyrannies are always perpetuated in the name of the noblest causes.”Thomas Paine
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”C.S. Lewis
“All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force.”George Orwell
The Slave Mentality
What’s really at stake here is what Navigating the Worldviews of Egypt calls a “slave mentality”- an attitude that prefers the security of a powerful and sovereign government over personal liberty. The Bible is not neutral on this subject, as seen clearly in the Old Testament story of the Israelites’ encounter with this same tyrannical state of Ancient Egypt. God’s people were enslaved by the Egyptians and miraculously delivered through the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. And yet the people immediately complained about missing their comfortable and well-fed lives in Egypt. This angered God so much that He made them wander the desert until they died, thus only the next generation with no personal fond memory of Egyptian slavery would get to enter the Promised Land.
Consider the significance of the first commandment given to Moses: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3
The Israelites were given instructions on how to govern themselves using representatives and a justice system rather than a pyramid scheme. Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin, and it’s clear from scripture that God still wants us to live as free people. No man-made government can ever have limitless power because they will always be subject to God. All authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18). For kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations (Psalm 22:28).
No matter how nicely dressed, a statist society that exercises unrestrained power over the people, treats a class of citizens as undignified property of another, and denies the authority (and even the existence) of our Creator will never be pleasing to God. In order to love what God loves, we must also hate what God hates.
America’s got the right idea, but…
The founders of America had the right idea when they crafted a government “under God” and “for the people, by the people” with lots of checks and balances to keep power at bay. Southern slavery sadly would still take a great deal of fighting to abolish and much could be said about that. The plantation owners acted just like mini-pharaohs to extort labor from image-bearers of God, often using cruel force.
Navigating the Worldviews of Egypt also brings up early 20th century America, when the booming industrialists desired slave-like laborers for their factories. Just take a look at this quote by Rockefeller’s general Education Board as their first mission statement for government schools: “In our dreams… people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions fade from our minds and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk.”
How about today? Where do you see tyranny and the slave mentality of a totalitarian government? Well, for starters, any time an elected official goes “above the law” with an executive order, no matter the “emergency” – it’s a sign of limitless power rearing its ugly head. Or when congress passes a law that, according to its Constitution, it has no right to pass, we’re on track towards boundless totalitarianism. I don’t know about you, but my mind is swarming with examples coming from blue state governors and our current White House Administration. I’m thankful for those strong enough to stay and fight in the blue states (follow Kevin Kiley on Instagram), but as for me and my household… we chose to flee that house of slavery! While we’re still stuck under the oppressive thumb of the Federal Bureaucracy (and certainly Idaho’s state government is not completely void of power-hungry rats), the freedom we’re experiencing is so good and life-giving compared to California’s constant bombardment of offensive and ungodly legislation.
Don’t try it
When one of my children was about 3 or 4 years old, she refused to eat the spaghetti squash I had prepared for dinner. The battle of wills that ensued over the next 20 hours was spectacular. She didn’t cry or scream or throw it to the ground – she simply wouldn’t try it. In that moment, I remember standing in awe of the utter magnitude of the task that lay before me – to raise this kid. But, while hoping to break her self-centered will, I would never want to break her spirit. In fact, her tenacity is something I admire. May we all reject the evil schemes of this world with the same courage and spunk as a toddler rejecting spaghetti squash!