Sometimes the history of words provides much food for thought. History is the account of change. But it is also a glimpse into the meaningful effect of change — which is to say its effect on human understanding.
Immigration and invasion are words that allude to the same act — going from one place into another. But they have very different implications, amounting to the difference between peace and war.
Toward the beginning of his treatise On War, Carl von Clausewitz summarizes the meaning of the word: "War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will."
No doubt many people simply assume that force means armed force, as in Caesar's invasion of Brittania. But Clausewitz continues in a way that belies this assumption: "Force, to counter opposing force, equips itself with the inventions of art and science."
Equipment is subsequent to force, as the object or objects it uses. In this respect, even a contest between naked wrestlers has the aspect of armed combat, provided we distinguish between the human body and the will that deploys it.
Clausewitz assumes that we understand this distinction when he ends his definition by referring to human will. Almost immediately, however, he invites us to lose sight of it when he proclaims that "force — that is physical force, for moral force has no existence save as expressed in the state and the law — is thus the means of war."
In light of his definition of war, however, it's impossible to take this statement at face value. For, since the aim of war is to impose one's will on the enemy, the first resource of war is the will that compels one to do so. But before it has some outward physical expression, will is an inner prospect of change that compels action to bring about that change. No physical force fully accounts for it.
What other force might be involved? That is a question hard to raise in such a time as this. It requires thinking about things ideologically anathema to the God-haters, presently pressing toward global domination. But at least one dictionary definition offers an alternative, as it introduces the history of the word "compel," which Clausewitz uses in the definition of war: "To drive or urge irresistibly by physical or moral [italics mine] force."
The use of the word "moral" calls us to consider the element of choice that appears to be involved in the formation of one's will. That element of choice allows us to assume responsibility. It also requires us to take into account forces that may not be strictly physical, since they ultimately arise, from within — whence our thoughts make their appearance, along with whatever "will" corresponds to them.
All our conscious life takes place, as it were, in the presence of this state of being from within. The more we test the wills that correspond to it, the more we experience the distinction between what is so and what we think of it.
Sometimes this results from some material experience and our physical body's response to it. We see the flame. We test its warmth with our hand. We feel burning pain and yank it away. At other times, however, we see some past or future experience in thought — the memory or prospect of a tasty meal or some delectable beauty, for instance, and are drawn to the thought as to the thing itself, so that our mouth waters or our heart pines.
In some way, the thoughts are not there in the sense that physical objects appear to be. Yet in another way, they are all that is there in a sense more profound than any physical object will ever be, even when we are perceiving and touching physical things. As human beings, the being within, whence our thoughts and wills arise, is the being we are. It is the one that forms and informs the thoughts and tangible objects and wills that comprise our experiences and tells the difference between them.
But like the offstage voice of some unseen narrator, this being never appears, as such, before us. Because it fills our mind with thoughts, it is always present to mind. But it hovers in the background, never taking perceptible shape, form or substance except in the things that appear on stage because of its narration.
This word — "because" — should give us pause. By taking responsibility for this or that moment of our prospective will, we may claim it as our own. But does that makes us its author? Since its elements appear full-blown in our stream of consciousness, isn't there a persistent question about its authorship? Can we be sure we are in fact the one that informs its existence? Modern psychologists, following Freud, want us to think so. But is there any ground or basis for their demand, except some will prepared in, and emerging from, the background of their mind, as in ours?
Does such speculative reflection seem far distant from our efforts to think through the distinction between immigration and invasion? Only because we are conditioned to take it for granted that the distinction is a matter of arms. But as Clausewitz goes on to recognize in his discussion of war, arms are not a sure token of warlike events without the will to use them.
Moral factors hidden in the word "morale" make all the difference. People entering our territory with arms are invaders if they mean to use those arms to enforce their will upon us. But what if unarmed entrants are organized with a view to using moral force, instead of arms, to achieve the same coercion? Are they not also invaders when they do so without regard to the standing will we have expressed by law; and the avenues, terms and procedures we have established for in-migration?
There is something disingenuous about all the Catholic philosophasters who insist on pretending that moral force cannot be deployed to coerce, in violation of the requirements of law endowed by God, that ought to govern all human transactions. The Apostle suggests that doing evil that good may come of it is, by God, forbidden (Romans 3:8).
But what of taking advantage of good conscience and intentions to achieve some great and wicked end, such as robbing people of their homeland; or luring people to become the unarmed footsoldiers of such rapine?
If America's border crisis is an instance of this species of Machiavellian invasion, by unarmed proxy, why is it immoral for the United States to take precautions that help to thwart its wicked intention? No matter what the intentions of the people used as pawns by those who orchestrate the invasion, have Americans no right to defend themselves against the wicked intention that uses them to advantage?
Or are we obliged to pretend that the absence of arms means that no harm is intended — as if the thoughts and imaginations of the heart, devising great evil, are not relevant to the judgment righteously brought against it? Neither Jesus nor His Heavenly Father teaches us to neglect such evil. Christ, in fact, especially emphasizes its significance. What true doctrine requires that we reject their teaching?