Standing Up to Tyranny

Photo: Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation

The 20th century was a century marred by tyranny and bloodshed. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all built terrible regimes responsible for the deaths of millions. There is a lot we can learn by reading the histories of these regimes. History can tell us a lot about the pitfalls of too much government power and too much faith in leaders. But we can also learn a lot from the dissenters and the resisters. Those who stood up to these terrible regimes, standing by what is right no matter the cost, tell us a great deal about the importance of standing up against tyranny.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn jumps out to many as a great example of standing up to tyranny and paying the price willingly. His story is detailed in his work The Gulag Archipelago. A lesser-known dissident is Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty. Throughout her life, Phyllis emphasized the importance of carrying Cardinal Mindszenty’s legacy into the future so that we all could learn from his bravery and virtue.

The Cardinal “was first imprisoned by the Communists in 1919 for daring to speak the truth about Communism. He was imprisoned by the Nazis in 1944 for opposing their policies, and again by the Communists in 1948.”

Phyllis said that “Cardinal Mindszenty’s presence in our country [was] living proof that one man can survive unblemished in soul and spirit despite every torture of the totalitarians. At age 82, and after 23 years in prison or confinement, he still [had] the courage to speak out in righteous wrath against Communist tyranny.”

Tyranny has not been relegated to the dustbin of history. The temptation towards tyranny is a tale as old as time for government leaders. That is why we have the Constitution, our safeguard against tyranny. But some factions seek to overcome these limits and institute tyranny once again. We must learn to resist because capitulation comes at the cost of a pure heart and soul.

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