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The difference between belief and mandate

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Columnist Tony FarkasBy Tony Farkas
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History teaches us that belief is a powerful thing, and that people holding a belief can be forces for change.

Take Christianity for instance. The Apostles died as martyrs for their faith, practicing their belief and preaching love and tolerance. While not perfect, Christianity in its many forms still exists today.

It’s the prime example of what happens when a belief is shared. You win converts, or at least people who see your point, with the passionate defense of anything.

The other side of that coin is mandates, which by definition is a forced policy. It’s also based on belief, but instead of winning compliance, there is the understood threat of retaliation if compliance is not willingly given.

That normally applies to governments, such as the recent mask and vaccination mandates put in place to combat COVID-19, but it also extends to other areas, particularly the area of equality.

Recently in Dallas, there were a group of children subjected to what was described as a Drag Your Kid to Pride Drag Show. Drag queens danced while children were giving them money and even the children were dragged onstage and made to participate.

There also are numerous examples of libraries hosting Drag Queen Story Hour.

This isn’t about being gay; I’m not qualified to discuss any of that. I can, however, tell you what I believe. And therein lies the difference.
With Christianity, or with politics, or with lifestyles, or with anything that is a passion, if it will stand on its merits, it will not require indoctrination. Further, it will not require force of any kind because it will resonate with the individual. Frog-marching children into drag bars is tantamount to forcing a lifestyle acceptance on them. Sure, churches require attendance, but that’s a matter for parents to deal with, based on what they see as acceptable for their children.

From there, they either come to their belief, or not. I can walk away from a church and they will pray for my soul. I walk away from anything else and I’m branded a bigot, or a racist, or a hater, or some such nonsense, even though I have expressed no sentiment. I’m an adult, and I can make those decisions. Kids can’t, but that’s another column.

The thing for me about mandates is the coercion. Any time force is part of the equation, there always will be a faction that will come out in opposition, leading to conflict. However, there is another issue that I see, and that is whatever is mandated may have issues or is only partially beneficial.

Sure, there was a time in Christianity, for argument’s sake, where force was a major part of the equation. History shows, though, that was about power, not about the message. As churches let the proof be in the pudding, as it were, the community grew.

While it may seem that I’m purposely contrasting the alphabet crowd with Christians, this isn’t the point. The point remains simple in that if people are treated with respect and allowed the dignity of making their own decisions — you know, using honey instead of vinegar — combined with a powerful and compelling belief, then there will be change and there will be acceptance.

That goes for politics, social issues, relationships of every stripe.

All mandates accomplish is setting groups apart, sowing division and rancor.

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