Are You an Enemy of the People?
“You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.” This quote, from an 1882 play titled An Enemy of the People, carries much weight when measured on a scale in 2022. After all, at this point in history haven’t so many of us stood alone when it comes to trumpeting the truth? Whether it’s defending the unborn, medical freedom, election integrity or the sovereignty of our borders, we are living in a time where we are labeled as “enemies of the people” for simply refusing to bow down to agendas that are often fraught with lies and corruption.
Henrik Ibsen published An Enemy of the People 140 years ago, but the pages of this dramatic tale speak a message for the here and now. The play tells the story of an altruistic doctor who exposes a terrible truth that nobody wants to hear about, or take responsibility for. Ibsen, who has been called the father of modern drama, uses this play to shed light on what happens when politics and money overtake honesty, integrity, and moral courage.
As I read the play, I couldn’t help but see the similarities to what’s going on around the world today as it pertains to the Covid pandemic, and the public response to it. As I describe the plot of this gripping tale, see how many parallels you can identify.
An Enemy of the People takes place in a small town in Norway. Its residents have high hopes for a huge bathing complex that’s been built to boost the economy by drawing in tourists from around the world. These hopes start to unravel when Dr. Stockmann, the physician in charge of monitoring the baths, makes a disturbing discovery. The healing waters of the “town’s lifeblood” are actually contaminated by chemicals from the local tannery.
The doctor’s concerns arose from noticing that previous bathers had become sick after using the facilities. As a precaution, he took a sample of the water and sent it to a local university for testing. Upon receiving the results, his suspicions were verified. He emphatically concluded: “The whole Bath establishment is a whited, poisoned sepulcher, I tell you–the gravest possible danger to the public health! All the nastiness up at Molledal (where the tanneries are located), all that stinking filth, is infecting the water in the conduit-pipes leading to the reservoir; and the same cursed, filthy poison oozes on the shore too…the water is absolutely dangerous to use, either internally or externally.”
Deeply upset by the harm the baths could cause, Dr. Stockmann is determined to set things right. Trouble begins when he notifies the mayor, who just happens to be his brother, about the baths. He assumes his brother will fully cooperate by closing the baths and renovating them. Instead, the good doctor is told, “I am not entirely convinced by your report that the state of the Baths is as serious as you make out.” Additionally, the mayor complains that the costs of fixing the baths will be too great, requiring at least two years of work. He warns that the economy and the town’s reputation could be ruined.
Disappointed and shocked, Dr. Stockmann insists he has no choice but to enlist the help of the local newspaper to alert the townspeople about the danger. In response, the mayor emphatically states, “In the interests of the public, you must withhold it…nothing of this unfortunate affair, not a single word of it–must come to the ears of the public.”
Undeterred, Dr. Stockmann officially submits an article to The People’s Messenger. At first, the newspaper’s editors are eager to run it, and even praise the doctor for his courage. Unfortunately, this is short-lived because after talking with the mayor, they suddenly change their minds. He convinces them the town will be ruined if the truth is heard, and in the process, their own careers will be put in jeopardy.
Realizing he’s lost the media’s support, Dr. Stockmann decides to hold a town meeting. Unable to find a public venue to host, he is forced to speak at a friend’s home. But even at this assembly, attended by townspeople, officials and the media, great efforts are made to keep the doctor from speaking. Opponents work up the crowd by insisting that Dr. Stockmann’s main goal is to destroy the town. When the frustrated doctor is finally able to share, he can see the crowd has completely turned on him. A number of voices shout, “Don’t talk about the Baths! We won’t hear you! None of that!” Dr. Stockmann raises his voice and answers, “The most dangerous enemy of the truth and freedom amongst us is the compact majority…that is it…the majority has might on its side–unfortunately; but right it has not. I am in the right– I and a few other scattered individuals.”
The meeting ends with the citizens taking a unanimous vote that declares Dr. Stockmann an enemy of the people. As a result, he loses his job and the landlord evicts his family. The doctor contemplates leaving the town forever, but a fire rises up within him. He decides to stay and fight the good fight no matter what else it may cost. He reveals, “I have made a great discovery…it is this, let me tell you–the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”
While there are many issues within this play to discuss, perhaps the biggest one is the idea that fighting against the majority is never easy. Dr. Stockmann is up against the mayor, the press, and the entire town. Only his family and a few friends stand with him. His “high crime” is that he has questioned the safety of the local baths. Since these “healing” baths form the lifeblood of the town’s economy, they are deemed untouchable and beyond reproach. The dedicated doctor expects cooperation since he’s revealing the details of a life-or-death issue, but instead, he’s met with persecution and animosity.
As we muddle through the Covid era, are we not seeing the same patterns? After all, we have doctors warning us about vaccine injuries and efficacy issues, yet when they present this information, many are labeled right-wing conspiracy theorists. As punishment, their licenses are being threatened and revoked. Doctors, as well as scientists, like Peter McCullough, Ryan Cole, Simone Gold, Peter Kory and Robert Malone are sounding the alarm that the Covid vaccines aren’t completely safe and effective. They have the data to prove it, and are asking for public discourse, but the “mayors” of the world claim it’s not debatable.
Bold legislators like Senator Ron Johnson have held panel discussions and hearings so the voices of the many victims can be heard. But doing this has not been easy. Like Dr. Stockmann, they’ve been told their concerns are not important. Additionally, great efforts have been made to silence them. Anyone who seeks to publicly discuss vaccine injuries, mask mandates, or medical malfeasance is censored, shadow-banned, or rebuked. Opponents decry “misinformation” and threaten legal action upon those who dare debate the topic on podcasts, Facebook, Twitter and social media. Even the U.S. Surgeon General advocated that Big Tech has a role to play when it comes to stopping the spread of “misinformation.” The issue has become one of national security as of February 7, 2022, when a National Terrorism Advisory Bulletin was released stating, “The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors. These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence.”
Dr. Stockmann brought his message to the media, but soon realized their loyalty did not lie with the people, but with their own economic and political interests. As a result, he does the only thing he can do by calling for a public forum. He is banned from speaking at the usual public venues and must instead present his grievances from the home of a loyal friend. This is reminiscent of what’s happened when it comes to sharing information about the Covid vaccines. Only one side has been allowed to be presented in the mainstream media. The absence of public forums, where both sides present either benefits or drawbacks of the vaccines, is more than an elephant in the room–it’s a propaganda technique known as card stacking. This happens when only one side is allowed to present information and the viewpoint of the opposing side is censored. In this way only the preferred narrative is given a mouthpiece, while a muzzle is placed on anyone who presents a different message.
Dr. Stockmann’s deck was empty when it came to the court of public opinion. As he stood in front of his townspeople, he faced shouts of anger and hate. “He’s an enemy of the people,” they repeated.
The Canadian truckers could certainly relate with Dr. Stockmann, who was eventually fired for demanding to be heard. Their courageous protests are the result of leaders and officials ignoring their concerns, as well as the regular media. The vaccine mandates threaten their jobs and livelihoods. But instead of meaningful dialogue and discussion, they are met with a Prime Minister who invokes the Emergency Powers Act to keep them from assembling. Additionally, the bank accounts of anyone linked with the protests can be frozen, and insurance on vehicles could be canceled. Leaders like Justin Trudeau would have Canadians believe these truckers are “an enemy of the people” by referring to them as racists, fascists and terrorists who follow “unacceptable views.” Pastor and trucker Sheldon Andreas says, “They’re slandering really good people…dragging their names through the mud. It’s shameful. There are no fascists here. It’s moms and dads and kids standing around a bonfire with me.” Like Dr. Stockmann, who refused to back down, these truckers are not going to give up.
Dr. Stockmann was in the minority, but he demanded to be heard. He refused to submit to the majority opinion because he believed the truth must prevail. Nowadays it seems like the majority is calling us an enemy of the people. The propaganda circulating around keeps the masses hypnotized by rhetoric, but slowly more are waking up to the truth.
After reading an Enemy of the People, my son painted this picture.
He was inspired by a literary art print that featured a flock of birds traveling one direction, but just one bird flew the opposite way. The message: the majority isn’t always right. Sometimes we must fly in the opposite direction. And perhaps this is our prayer–that we would know when it’s time to fly away from the crowd and be firm in our opposition to the majority, or what appears to be the majority.
Jesus did not go along with the crowd. Instead, in John 15:18-19 he said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind, it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Additionally, Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Not following the world or the crowd means we may become “an enemy of the people.” It’s a narrow path that most will not take. After all, there’s a price to pay. Dr. Stockmann lost his brother, his friends, his job and even his home. Perhaps the same thing has happened to you.
In the age of information and misinformation, it’s important that we are exposed to dialogue from both sides of an issue. Then, we can make prayerful, well-informed decisions. The real fascists are those who shut down free speech and the inalienable rights God gave us.
Lord, please help us become seekers and followers of truth. We pray for honest public debate and discourse, so all angles of important issues can be explored. When we encounter information, give us your perspective about the issues at hand. Also, do not let us be afraid to speak, even if the majority comes against us. Even if we feel physically alone, help us remember we are not truly alone, for you are there with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In what ways have you felt like “an enemy of the people?” Like Dr. Stockmann, when have you stood alone?
Angela Rodriguez is an author, blogger and homeschooling Mom who studies the historical and biblical connections between Israel and the United States. You can visit her blogs at 67owls.com and 100trumpets.com. Her latest book, Psalm 91: Under the Wings of Jesus, was released in June 2021.
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