"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
- G. K. Chesterton
When a society breaks down, the first thing to go is order. Because no social community can survive without some form of order, something or someone takes charge, almost overnight. The criminally ambitious usually have the pulse of the community. They are always looking for an opening through which they can take criminal advantage of the unsuspecting. A social collapse is like getting a key to the city. Organized crime cartels or small-time gang lords will have no opposition unless some protectors stand up and get in their way.
It takes both bravery and vision to keep a bad situation from becoming worse. Cool-headed men see the threats place themselves between the threats and the people. The next stage in social recovery is steering the community back to the foundations of peace, constitutional law and justice. Without these, the bad guys cannot be justly restrained, and a free market economy cannot get back on stable ground. With steady, moral leadership, communities and nations can be returned to conditions of order and civility.
History teaches that effective crisis leadership comes not from career politicians, or career bureaucrats, but “out of nowhere.” This truism is a bit of a misnomer. When solid, wise and dependable leaders appear during a crisis, they do not arise from nowhere. Their quiet lives have been marked by steady, ongoing, governance of themselves and their own private affairs for a significant time.
What typically makes them successful is the clear-eyed understanding of what peace on earth looks like, and what freedom looks like. They are familiar with the moral compass because they have been using it for years to orient their own thinking. Their task in reordering things will not be finished until lawless opportunists are driven back into obscurity and powerlessness. When bad men come face-to-face with this kind of moral determination, they recognize the moral authority behind this ambition. It is often at this point they realize they are not willing to pay the price to continue.