It happened slowly, like the proverbial frog in a water-filled pot that didn’t know the heat was turned on until it was too late. Political correctness, the desire to be accepted and a wish not to offend anyone has led even staunch conservatives to become wishy-washy people pleasers.

Those on the liberal side have no compunctions about voicing their beliefs. To their credit, there is no doubt where liberals stand on any topic. Conservatives, on the other hand, have vacillated to the point that it’s difficult to ascertain the difference between them and their liberal counterparts.

Conservatives don’t push back much nowadays. And I’m not talking about conservative politicians, either, but rather everyday Americans, the run-of-the-mill conservative people who just want to go about their daily business without turmoil and strife. Conservatives are more likely to apologize for things they needn’t apologize for rather than stand strong in their convictions. But giving in at every turn can only lead to a loss of whatever it is we might support. Here’s an example.

I live in a rural area and, not too long ago, had no neighbors except for a working poultry farm. With no one to complain, I operated an active shooting range. Then people from urban settings began moving to the country and houses began popping up in otherwise wild settings.

Without exception, all of my new neighbors are anti-hunting and except for one lone soul, all dislike firearms. It didn’t take me long to figure this out and consequently I pared down activity at my shooting range. This was a courtesy gesture on my part. Still, it pays to keep the shooting eye sharp and I occasionally do a bit of target practice, although far less than in the past.

And, of course, I am well within my legal rights to do so. My place sits far off the road with no one very close to me and only woodlands behind and on either side. So it came as a surprise when a neighbor called and asked me if I was OK. Puzzled, I asked why she would think otherwise. “I heard a gunshot,” she said. I told her that the gunshot was me shooting my muzzleloading rifle, which had remained loaded since last deer season. The easiest way to unload a muzzleloader is, of course, to fire it.

That call left me with an uneasy feeling, but the real reason for the call still eluded me. Than, about a week later, someone else a distance away fired several shots. Immediately, the phone rang. It was the same neighbor with the same disingenuous question: “We heard a shot. Are you OK?”

It was than that I comprehended the reason for the call. The neighbor wasn’t concerned about my well-being, but rather, was registering her displeasure with hearing gunfire. This time I gave the reply that I should have given in the first place. “Why shouldn’t I be OK?” “Well,” she replied, “We thought it was a rifle shot.”

“So what if it was?” I said.

I went on: “Whoever shot, unless they are barred from owning a firearm, has every right to shoot their rifle. Under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, citizens are allowed to possess and use firearms. Furthermore, I don’t want you calling me every time someone, including me, touches off a gun.”

My neighbor doesn’t like me any more, but at least she now knows where I stand on gun rights.

My experience typifies the political-correctness mindset. Using subterfuge (are you OK?), liberals achieve their goals in an innocent-sounding manner. But where does it end?

For instance, the city of Belfast has declared Oct. 9 is no longer Columbus Day, but rather, “Indigenous People’s Day.” This may sound nice and fuzzy to some, but it is simply rubbish. No amount of political correctness will change the fact that on Oct. 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus made landfall in the New World. We conservatives have two choices. They are, either go along with the upside-down politically-correct nonsense, or continue celebrating Columbus Day as Columbus Day.

Even such mundane statements as posting a Trump sign or flying the American Flag brings conservatives under attack.

But it is Christians who fare the worst. Many people who profess Christ as their savior are unwilling to state their beliefs publicly. And that marks the beginning of the end of religious freedom.

So, my conservative friends, know that your beliefs and God-given rights are slowly being eroded. And worst of all, you are partially to blame because you allowed it to happen. It’s not too late, of course, but from now on conservatives must get a backbone and stand up to political correctness. It is our only hope.

Tom Seymour is a freelance magazine and newspaper writer, book author, naturalist and forager. He lives in Waldo.