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Explaining ”Woke” to a European

I have had a running dialogue on Medium with a liberal atheist European (J…) for sometime. It has spread over multiple posts with back-and-forth comments on a number of topics. We have been respectful and curious toward each other’s beliefs.

One of those recent conversations had to do with the question of what the American term “woke” means. The issue surfaced from a short article I wrote back in October of 2021, “Woke vs. Biblical Christian Words & Worldviews”.

J…’s Question and Opinion

“My inclination is definitely towards “woke”, if by that is meant having a strong social conscience that accepts people for what they are, supports them in living the life that they see as being right for them (as long as it does no harm to others) and strives to undo past and present injustices.”

My Response to J…

J…, reflect on the fact that the word “woke” has switched from a very positive word by progressives to a word used only by their critics. The definition has not changed however. Why would that be? 

Why are the Democrats moving away from association with “The Squad” which are the congressional leaders of the “woke”? Why is all American polling documenting the reality that the Democrats will get slaughtered in the 2022 election cycle? Why are unprecedented numbers of congressional Democrats “retiring” in 2022? Why did Biden say “we need to fund the police, not defund them” in his State of the Union speech (a move that angered the progressives)? Why are Biden’s poll numbers worse than any president in recent history, as he campaigned as a moderate, yet has been identified with the woke progressives since taking office? 

I am a Biblical Christian Conservative Independent and look at individuals and individual policies as good or bad, not aligning with groups like Republicans or Democrats. The woke policies are socialistic and not capitalistic. They carried the Democrats into power in 2020 when so many were voting against Trump (for good reason) and voting for a return to civility and moderate policies. What Americans have come to realize is that the woke policies of forced redistribution of wealth by the government is not the heart of Americans. As a nation, we are the greatest per capita givers on the planet. However, we, as individuals, want to make our own decisions on where that support goes.

One can say all that is wrong, unfair, bigoted, selfish, etc. Regardless, the Democrats will get removed as the dominant party in 2022, and again in 2024. There is no one who will disagree with that who follows politics to any degree. MSNBC and CNN have been making that point for more than a month. The reason can be summed up in one word. Right or wrong, good or bad, Americans see the Democrats as “woke”. 

Conclusion – the Question

J… makes a number of very good points in his definition of “woke” and the value of that philosophy, if positively enacted in America. He has been immersed in a similar culture in his own country for decades. One could argue, it has served them well, providing a strong social safety net for the disenfranchised. So, why is it failing so miserably in America? Frankly, I wish I had a neat answer to that question.

Is it our independent nature that is so resistant? Is it that we are moving too fast toward socialism and people don’t like change? Is it some of the baggage that has come attached to a woke culture, such as reparations, equity vs. equality, cancel culture, the perception of laziness in the workforce, CRT, past isolationism due to COVID, BLM, defund the police, climate change, overall fear of socialism, an unwavering belief in capitalism, and supply-side economics?

Is America the strongest nation in the world because we are the most entrenched in Capitalism vs. Socialism? Can we, or even should we, retain our position on the world stage if we continue down the “woke” path? Is that where the fear and resistance is coming from?

I think these are questions we should be asking as we decide, as a nation, who we are and who we wish to be.


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Jeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org

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