15 September 2008

B.A.T. (Base Attitude Theory)

The Militant Pacifist thinks that he might have coined a new phrase (maybe not).

The phrase is “base attitude theory,” and the idea came to me [The Militant Pacifist] as I pondered the variety of basic attitudes that people hold towards their governments.

Yesterday, I heard a Chinese Christian describe the current situation for Christians in the People’s Republic of China. He presented a modern history of Christianity in China – a history including rampant suppression and persecution by the Communist government.

During a follow-on discussion, an American Christian interviewer asked the Chinese Christian “do you trust your government?” The Chinese Christian immediately responded, “No!”

The American interviewer followed-up this question with, “well, do you think I should trust my government?” The Chinese Christian seemed perplexed by the question, but after a moment of thought he responded affirmatively, citing the many liberties that American citizens enjoy as ample reason why the American interviewer should trust his government.

I cite the incident above as an example of B.A.T. (base attitude theory). My theory is that the Chinese Christian’s base attitude towards his country’s government was one of distrust (even fear) because of the life experiences that he or others have had with his government. These experiences have shaped his attitude so that his base response to his government is fear and distrust. If you have read anything about Chinese communism’s treatment of Christians – you will appreciate that his base attitude is justified.

Most Americans I encounter have a much more favorable attitude towards their government than does the Chinese Christian. Maybe their more favorable attitude is justified, or maybe they have been more “slickly propagandized” and less intimidated than the Chinese Christian. In any case, it seems that most Americans feel more threatened by Iraqis and Iranians than they do by their own government.

I have never had an “unpleasant” experience with either an Iraqi or an Iranian – but most experiences I have had with my government have been unpleasant [granted, I have never discharged a firearm in the direction of an Iraqi or an Iranian].

I’m trying to live a righteous life, but every time I see a letter in my mailbox with “IRS” on the envelope – my mouth gets dry and my pulse increases. When I see my local militarized police, with their Marine Corps haircuts, “terminator” sunglasses, and combat boots, my stomach jumps and I think, “am I doing anything wrong?”

My base attitude towards my government is distrust, fear and ambivalence. It is the Militant Pacifist’s opinion that this attitude would have been advised, encouraged and commended by the great scientists who started the American political experiment (men like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin).

Christians are not to be rebellious (1 Samuel 15:23). They are even commanded to be subject to certain powers (Romans 13:1-7).

Lest this ramble seem uncharitable (or un-Christian) - the Militant Pacifist often has to remind himself that God commands prayer for government officials - specifically, prayer that they (government officials, principalities and powers) will leave us alone (1 Timothy 2:1-2); And he does ([I do] pray for them).

Sometimes, this seems difficult for me. I doubt it is difficult at all for a Chinese Christian.


Lee Shelton IV said...

I couldn't agree more.

Enchanted Etymologist said...

That was very interesting. Like the "new phrase" by the way!