Oh, Che Can You See?

Recently I finished a book, Son of Hamas, written by Mosab Yousef.  Yousef was a Muslim who became a revolutionary for the cause of Christ.  His hatred for Israelis, which was fostered by his religious culture in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank in Israel, consumed him.  This prince of Hamas, however, encountered the Prince of Peace in Old Jerusalem.  A Christian invited Yousef to attend a Bible study.  From that invitation, Yousef's path led to a belief in Jesus Christ as the only source of true peace.

At the end of the book Yousef lamented that Christians are not more involved in confronting the Islamic culture.  As he is risking his life to expose the dark workings of Islam, Yousef challenged Christians to do more to share the truth.  Simply praying about the situation can often be a cop-out.  Thinking about that challenge a moment I questioned: "What exactly does he want me to do?"  Then it occurred to me.  Although Yousef's context is confronting Islam, where I can passionately demonstrate truth was something I had to figure out for myself.  How can I effectively put my faith into action in America?

Yousef's challenge to Christians came to mind as I was at the gym on the running track.  On the track I noticed someone (whom we'll call "Joe") wearing a T-shirt with Ernesto "Che" Guevara's image on it.  This cult of personality saddens and sickens me.  Guevara was a thug and a brutal murderer, and yet he is revered as if he were a war hero by many on the political left.  As I try to live by my motto scripture -- "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but, rather, expose them (Ephesians 5:11)" -- I knew I needed to say something to him.  I approached Joe as he was stretching on a mat.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I noticed you are wearing a T-shirt with Che Guevara on it."  Right then, I could tell by the look on Joe's face that others must have shared with him their opinions of Che.  He immediately put up the defenses.

I tried to be as respectful as I could, yet remembering that "speaking the truth in love" still requires "speaking the truth."

"Do you know who Che Guevara was?" I inquired.

"I know he was a revolutionary," he offered, and then added "and I don't appreciate my free speech being questioned."

"No, I'm not saying you shouldn't wear the shirt; I'm just trying to see if you know who he truly was.  Do you know any specifics of what he did?"

"No, I don't know any specifics, but I know he was controversial," Joe admitted.

"Well, Che was a very wicked man..."

Joe interrupted.  "That's a matter of opinion."

I continued.  "His revolutionary principles are completely antithetical to our American ideals.  He is not a man to be celebrated." 

Joe again interrupted.  "That's a matter of opinion, and, if you please, I need to get back to my workout" -- a 15-minute workout that so far consisted of stretching, a few laps walking on the indoor track, and stretching again.

I respectfully concluded, "I appreciate your taking the time to hear me, and maybe next time you will do more research."

Here was a grown man, wearing the image of a mass murderer on his T-shirt.  All he cared to know about his idol, his hero, was that Guevara was "a revolutionary" and "controversial."  When confronted with my conclusion that Guevara was a wicked man that should not be celebrated, Joe only offered the relativistic refrain "It's just a matter of opinion."  He was not open to knowing the specifics.

Relativism sounds wonderful and accepting.  "You can have your opinion and I can have mine."  But what is relativism, really?  Generally speaking, relativism is a philosophy that asserts all points of view are equally valid.  A relativist will likely aver that there is no absolute truth or that absolute truth is unknowable.  Both of those statements are self-refuting.  How can one absolutely believe there is no absolute truth?  How can one know the truth about truth being unknowable?

The problem with relativists is they don't accept the consequences of their philosophy.  If truth really is relative, then why should a relativist get angry when I punch him in the nose?  His objection to my punching him is simply a matter of opinion, right?  I can have "my truth" and he can have his.

Sure, everyone is able to have an opinion.  They may even be entitled to that opinion.  But, not all opinions are created equal.  The problem with opinions is that "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."  The truth of John Adams' words resonates in our world that rejects absolute truth.

Let us look at the facts that should have informed Joe the "Che-ophile's" opinion of Ernesto Guevara:

  • One murder is captured in Guevara's own diary in January 1957.  Guevara admitted that he shot Eutimio Guerra on suspicion of passing on information: "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain. ... His belongings were now mine."  Does "social justice" include execution without a trial and then theft of the estate?
  • Guevara murdered Aristidio, a peasant, simply because Guevara suspected him of treason to the revolution.  The killing of the poor, dumb cart horse named Boxer in Animal Farm comes to mind.
  • Guevara ordered the executions of hundreds of people without trial as the head of the La Cabaña prison.  Many were executed simply because they were Christians.  Refusing to serve two masters, many Christians died on Guevara's orders as they shouted "¡Viva Cristo Rey!"
  • Guevara ordered the murder of 15-year old Carlos Machado, his twin brother, and their father simply for resisting the revolution's confiscation of their family farm.
  • Guevara embraced hatred as a tactic necessary in his revolutionary struggle.

For which one of these points was Joe displaying his pride in Guevara?  Relativism and blissful ignorance go hand-in-hand.  Hard-to-accept truth has simply become "a matter of opinion."  To the left, Guevara is a hero of the oppressed, a symbol to rally around for "social justice."  Many youth and other leftists celebrate Guevara's "revolutionary" and "controversial" nature without even the slightest curiosity of the truth of his ignominious life.

The great danger with blissfully ignorant relativism is that if a majority of society falls for specially marketed, iconic, charismatic "revolutionaries," the entire nation suffers the purges and atrocities for the blessed revolution.  The Che T-shirt wearers in Cuba made it easier for the revolutionaries to execute the country's Machados and steal their farms. 

Relativism crumbles as the light of truth exposes its deceptions.  Finding truth takes work.  Intellectual laziness is why there are so many liars and so many deceived.  In reality, relativism isn't about the existence of truth.  Truth isn't relative.  A person's will is relative.  Relativism really is a belief only in the truth one chooses to believe in.  All unpleasant, inconvenient truth is disregarded.  The philosophy of relativism is only created to excuse people's choices.  In Joe's case, relativism simply masks his intellectual ignorance.

So, today, I took up Yousef's challenge and performed my Christian duty to expose the darkness of relativism.  I wasn't about to let Joe carry his blissful ignorance on his T-shirt unchallenged.  I don't know if Joe is blissfully ignorant or deliberately so.  I just know that I was called to bear witness to the Truth.  I hope I shined the light on Joe's darkness and that he embraces the light by researching and he sees who Che truly was...and then burns his Che T-shirt.