What Churchill Means to Us
There are many kinds of heroes. Some are anonymous, living ordinary lives without recognition or fame. You may know someone like that. They are heroic because they inspire us through their exemplary conduct, self sacrifice and character. If we are lucky they are family members, relatives or friends. If not, then we can always dip into the well of history to find someone. History is full of heroes. For me, and millions of others, the greatest of these was Winston Churchill.
Churchill is Inspirational
Churchill’s life was an inspiration. He wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes, like the disastrous Dardanelles campaign of 1915, but, if you look at the whole of his life, it is a source of inspiration and wonder. What do you do when the chips are down? Act like Churchill. Hold the line, or as he once said in part of his twenty minute speech to the boys at Harrow, “…Never give in, never, never, never, never-in anything, great or small, large or petty-never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” What a great message for life! What an example he was to all of us! Without Churchill western civilization would not have survived the Nazi onslaught, and many of us would not be here today. But what is more, when we look at the life of Winston Churchill we have a template for how to live our lives.
A Man for all Seasons
There is no aspect of life wherein we cannot look to Winston Churchill for inspiration. Things weren’t easy for him. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was distant and erratic and eventually died of complications from syphilis in 1895. Winston was politically isolated from 1932 to 1940. Even during the years leading up to World War II people called him a warmonger and a gangster, and members of his own party condemned him. He was mistrusted by isolationists and appeasers like Lord Halifax and Neville Chamberlain. He was unpopular for his stand on India’s independence, and yet, through it all, he hung on. Through every season of life he displayed extraordinary courage and strength. He was a man for all seasons and a person everyone could look up to.
What About Today?
But what about his relevance today? Times have changed since Churchill’s day. We all know it. What is more, we can feel it. The march of radical liberal progressive values through our institutions has devastated the western world. It has attacked not only the foundational beliefs of our culture, but our grasp on reality. Our most cherished institutions have been undermined or damaged beyond repair. We don’t live in the same world Churchill did, so how can his life have relevance for us? The answer? It is more relevant than ever. In our troubled times Churchill’s life and his beliefs remain important. Some values are timeless, and some truths endure forever and so it was, and is, with Winston Churchill. His courage and resolve aren’t exclusive to any particular period of time. His love of liberty, democracy, western culture and justice ring true through the ages, and his personal qualities of grit and determination are needed more now than ever. The more we emulate Churchill the better things will be.
The War on Winston
It should surprise no one that radical Marxists and liberal progressives are attacking Winston Churchill. Their twisted and unbalanced viewpoint about one of the greatest men who ever lived is not surprising. For them Churchill was an imperialist, a colonialist and a racist, plus a lot of other unsavoury names having no basis in historical truth. Recently they have launched a campaign against him. His statue was desecrated in London and had to be encased in a metal box to protect it. Academics have vilified him saying that he was the perpetuator of an oppressive system based on colonialism and racism. All the catch phrases of the radical left are being used to attack him. Some are even saying that he was a bad prime minister. But, as professor J. Rufus Fears once said, “Only a professor would say that Churchill was a bad prime minister!” Everyone else knows that he was a hero.
Applying Churchillian Truths
I’ve applied Churchill’s truths to almost every problem and obstacle I have faced in life. He has never once let me down. In fact, when things have gotten particularly bad I have even recited the mantra “What would Churchill do?” Almost immediately my spine has stiffened, and I have received a much needed transfusion of courage. Like him, I knew the problem was not going to go away, but that I could handle it and would eventually triumph. Churchill taught me that. At one point when the Battle of Britain was raging and London was burning he came up from his underground shelter, surveyed the scene and said. “We’ll get them for this.” No defeatism, just a burning conviction that England would survive, and that they would make their enemies pay. Now that’s courage.
What We Need to Know
As conservatives we need to know that we are Churchill’s heirs. We carry on the fight for him, ourselves and future generations. It is our values and beliefs that will save civilization and preserve the timeless values and sacred traditions built up over centuries, just as it was Churchill’s values that did so in his time. But we also need to remember that each of us must be Churchillian in our daily lives, especially in this “Our Darkest Hour.” For us the struggle may not be against Nazi Germany, but it is against forces no less dark in their intention to strip us of our freedoms and subject us to tyranny. What would Churchill do if he were alive today? He would defiantly resist and fight ferociously against what is happening to us at this time in our history. He would never give in. Perhaps his courage and character are best illustrated in a couple of his most memorable statements:
“There is only one answer to defeat, and that is victory.”
House of Commons, June 10th, 1941
“The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes; but with this shield, however the Fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.’
House of Commons, November 12, 1940