A Simple Man With Simple Thoughts Will Turn To Force As A Last Recourse

One of my favorite albums to listen to over and over again is the somewhat obscure self-titled debut for Mike & The Mechanics.  It’s hard to understand how an album featuring the vocal talents of Paul Carrack [1], Paul Young, and John Kirby and featuring a robust band around Genesis member Mike Rutherford that featured two enduring top ten hits in “Silent Running” and “All I Need Is A Miracle” and an additional top 40 hit in “Taken In” can be considered obscure, but given that the album is solid from start to finish and should have easily had a couple more big hits and has only been certified gold in sales, it is indeed far more obscure than many albums far less blessed with solid music.  Among the songs on the album that should have been a bigger hit was the penultimate song from the collection, “A Call To Arms,” which makes an ironic plea given its title for the triumph of love over our native fight or flight tendencies, a plea for peace, moreover, that sounds genuinely stirring, and that came from a fragment of a Genesis song that had been rejected by the rest of the band.  Anyway, this particular song makes the statement that a simple man with simple thoughts will turn to force as a last recourse.  Whether for well or for ill, many of us, myself included, are not simple people with simple thoughts.

As it happens, while I was pondering on this stirring song, I happen to have begun reading a rather serious book with a somewhat provocative thesis on the enemies of civilization, which posits that the threat of terrorism is born out of their creation of a shared fantasy universe in which we are projected as some sort of great enemy, and that our conduct is more or less irrelevant in terms of their worldview.  Although the view is rather provocative, since our initial instinct when we make enemies is to wonder what we are doing wrong [2], or what we can do to eliminate the enmity that others have for us that we may not share, and that may greatly puzzle us.  Part of the inheritance of having a God-given mind is the freedom to use that to conceptualize others as we wish, to construct our own fantasy worlds that may bear little resemblance to reality, and to decide how we will define other people in our own minds, and how we will treat them in our own behavior.  The corollary of this is equally straightforward–since we can define others and treat others as we wish, regardless of what they have or have not done to deserve it, or whatever justifications we have to use to preserve our own dignity in the face of our wicked conduct, in our lack of love and respect, so too others are entirely free to define us and decide how to treat us from what is in their own heart and mind, a place where we cannot go and about which we know little.  The repercussions of this are immense, namely that we live in a potentially irrational world where the way we act towards others and the way others act towards us may be largely or entirely at variance with the wishes of the other and with what may be deserved or warranted.

Within the song lyrics, there is a deeper meaning behind the somewhat obscure idea that simple people with simple thoughts turn to force as a last recourse.  What does that even mean?  Why would, for example, a terrorist, have thoughts that were not simple?  A simple person takes life and other people as they are–there is no construction of a fantasy world or a fantasy role for others to fill.  Rather, there is an open acceptance of other people as they are.  Most of us are not simple.  We may be very careful about defining and setting clear standards for our own autonomy, but do not respect others as easily because their own self-will is at cross-purposes with our own plans and desires and wishes.  It takes a great deal of self-restraint to deal with understanding in the well-meaning but blundering attempts of others to interfere with our own jealously guarded free will, and enough respect for others not to interfere with them or to seek to dominate others.  The complications of our thoughts involves the extrapolations we make from that which is under our own control, namely our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior, to set expectations and demands on other people that they are not particularly willing to abide by.  We may know what is best for other people, better than they themselves do, but what makes the lives of others better requires them to choose what is good for themselves, to develop the discernment and wisdom to make wise choices for oneself.  At times it may be necessary to protect others from themselves, or for others to protect us from ourselves, but such is a state of childhood, of dependence, and of being subject to external coercion.  One of the main goals of our lives is to develop mastery over ourselves, and part of that mastery is developing the restraint so that others may learn to master themselves as well.

Yet even if force is a last recourse, so long as we live in a fallen world, there must be recourse to force on at least some level.  At some point, taking steps for self-defense is required when other people simply will not listen and respond accordingly to one’s wishes.  Where our own ability to defend ourselves fails, we seek the defense of other authorities and institutions like police and government and churches and family and the like, and where these institutions prove themselves corrupt we seek for divine retribution against powerful oppressors.  Even pacifists, who refuse to take up arms for themselves, see a recourse for force on the part of God, or on the part of civil authorities, and where there is no repentance, there is an expectation of judgment.  For those who reject the opportunities to treat others with love and respect in this life, and who fail to bow the knee in repentance to our Lord and Savior, there is only the expectation of judgment.  The fact that force is a last recourse does not take it off the table at all, but it merely recognizes that human beings may be intransigent in their evil, stubbornly set on wicked ways, and that there may be no other way to deal with them, however much we wish it were otherwise.  It is wishing that it were otherwise that keeps us within the realm of civilized beings.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-paul-carrack/

[2] See, for example:















About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Simple Man With Simple Thoughts Will Turn To Force As A Last Recourse

  1. Adrian Olivas says:

    In John 8:32 Jesus says that the truth shall set you free. Often times no one asks, “Free from what?” If they do, they think it is freedom from the law which of course is obviously not the answer.

    I and my friends call self-restraint, “ruling the beast (in other words your own carnal spirit/heart.) It is the beast, our own spirit that we must rule.

    I find that once you get past the details people are just not that complex. The truth makes you free from yourself – your beast – your own heart that wants to be stubborn like other rebellious people.

    People are simple. And I believe that is why the golden rule is beautiful in its simplicity as well. Rule yourself well and the truth (golden rule) will set you free to teach your enemies how that rule of law can free them from their “body of death” and carnal heart that rules over them.

    And to those who refuse true liberty may the force be with them as they have freely chosen. (Like my Star Wars reference?)

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