For me, the best and most important five minutes by a CPAC speaker was not from one of the many outstanding presidential candidates or other nationally-prominent conservatives, but rather took place at an obscure breakout session heard by perhaps two dozen people.
During the panel, “The Politics of Cool: How Important Ideas Get Trivialized,” Ian Walters, CPAC Communications Director, exhorted his listeners to live without fear.
Framed in the context of political correctness, campus speech codes, and unparalleled media bias, Ian spoke about the perils of speaking the truth in today’s culture and of how fear of ridicule can deter even the most intrepid truth-teller.
But Ian’s professionalism as a musician gave him deep insights into his political expression and led to his quest for freedom from fear.
Ian revealed, “I aspire to live a life without fear.”
As a focused and passionate musician, Ian understands that genuineness is essential to a good performance. Performing from the heart, and being true to oneself, leads to both excellence in achievement and liberty of one’s soul.
So, too, in politics (and religion).
We are all plagued to some degree with self-doubts, insecurities, and fears. But, as Ian pointed out, we need not be.
Ian’s solution is simple, though not necessarily easy. To be successful, we need to be honest, to have integrity, and to be people of character.
As many genuine leaders observe, being an honorable person draws other people to who you are and what you say.
Ian urges us to open our hearts, to be honest, and to be people of character. In so doing, we can live without fear. And, in the process, we can impact the lives of other people, change the political climate, and even transform the terms of the debate.
As Ian put it, “The trick is to open your heart and show liberals that you don’t have horns and a tail.”
As Solomon expressed it, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11). When we express our principles and values from our hearts, and do so in a right manner, we can win people to the truth.
Far too many conservatives (and Christians) fear to say what they believe. They moderate, compromise, or self-censor their views even before they start to express them. Self-censorship is inevitably followed by actual censorship from the Left.
Fear cripples. It cripples an agenda, it cripples a platform, and it cripples a soul.
Instead of being crippled, we should speak the truth from our hearts, with grace, that those fitly-spoken words might bear fruit in the lives of others.
Ian cautioned, “There is such a thing as excessive provocativity.” Being provocative for the sake of provocation undermines our message and detracts from our goal. Indeed, it should be spurned.
If we, as conservatives, speak the truth from our hearts, speaking “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), as the apostle Paul advises, then we will be successful.
We need have no fear, after all, if the truth is on our side.
During the panel discussion, Ian offered up an example: “We ought to be caring for one another, but not with Uncle Sam’s money.”
Even before George W. Bush, conservatives were compassionate. We need to be fearless and free to articulate our belief that private charity is better – more compassionate and more effective – than government largesse.
Living without fear is a laudable goal: personally and professionally, politically and spiritually. It requires honesty (with oneself and others) and integrity.
If we would dare to put ourselves out there, we could truly live lives without fear.