Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation not perish.”

Jn 11: 49-50

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I am often astonished that people sit silently and accept what others say to them without objection.  How easily people defer to others without reservation, let alone opposition.

The above words are those of Caiaphas, the high priest, a highly educated man (not that formal education tells us more than that a person is easily filled with words from others) who proposes that Jesus be killed to avoid the wrath of the brutal Roman occupiers being aimed at the Jewish population.

Notice that Caiaphas speaks without any recorded public dissent.  

In reading this I am reminded of a section in Chapter Two of Robert H. Bork’s excellent book Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.  

In the section, entitled “The Sacking of the Universities,” Judge Bork, a former U.S. Marine and outstanding scholar and Yale law professor, describes Yale and Cornell in the late 1960’s when each (along with other universities) were confronted by a collection of disgruntled Leftist students with any number of “grievances” and how the administration, faculty and Presidents of these universities did nothing but capitulate to the complainers who subsequently returned the “favor” by further belittling those who surrendered to their “demands.”

It is interesting that “distinguished” men and women of “letters” cannot recall, less so employ, the wisdom of Aristotle who tells us that “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which generates the others.”

In failing us, the “distinguished intellects” destroy what is good and necessary.

You see, it is an axiom that life expands in direct proportion to one’s courage and it declines in direct proportion to its absence. 

Make no mistake, in public life we willingly listen to the self-assertive even though they have shown themselves to be wanton, demonstratively unable to sustain a healthy life or marriage, let alone govern.

Imagine our stupidity and temerity in being willing to follow established failures, re-treads.

Better yet, imagine if just one person in the crowd stood and said to Caiaphas,

“You are a fool.  This man is the Son of God.  You, Caiaphas, are a faithless nitwit.  What you say is destructive.  You’d best sit down and shut up.”

Courage: the first of human qualities.  It expands life.  Its absence reduces life – and civilization.

Where are you today on courage?  Are you expanding life and civilization?  Or diminishing each?  Have you surveyed the public frontier and turned from those who do not deserve your ear?

Shalom.

Be a discrete listener.  Show wisdom and courage.  Act as if your life depends on it.  It does.  Share this with others.

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