Category Archives: civility

Inconvenient Insights for a Polarized World

This week after Groundhog’s Day and in remembrance of the Bill Murray comedy of reliving the same day over and over again, it is right to reflect on some enduring challenges:

We have miles to go in our pursuit of justice for women and men of all classes and cultures.
We can celebrate Christian contributions to social progress, and we must deeply lament historic ecclesial complicity with oppression.

We can criticize Israeli policies, but most of the responsibility for lasting peace rests with Arab leaders acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. Israel is not a western colonial imposition, but the historic home of an ancient people. The new plan presented by President Trump (and quietly endorsed by some Sunni Arab states in the region) is an opportunity that the current Palestinian Leadership is willfully ignoring.

Billions have been lifted out of poverty in my lifetime due to global trade, with access to new markets. We still have too many food, banking, and job deserts in our own American cities.

Our national debt and deficit spending reveal cowardice and a lack of concern for generations yet unborn. Both parties are guilty, and it will take both parties cooperation to find solutions.

UN officials admit that their proposals for climate change amelioration are of little practical use, except for the transfer of trillions in wealth. Unless China, India, and Russia sign on, little progress can be made. Every proponent of free trade and/or climate change skeptic must also care more deeply for the ecological life of our planet. Good environmental stewardship means a good economy for our grandchildren.

Let’s find a new way to fund education of all kinds without a lifetime of debt on graduates and ever-increasing tuition prices.

A rebirth of civility begins with an affirmation of the dignity and worth of each person we meet. We must end caricature, insults, and stereotyping of those different from us.

“Triggers” Keep Us from Truth, Part 1

To all who are “triggered” by the free exchange of ideas:
Be careful what you agitate for…once you go down the road of restricting liberty of conscience and expression, you will find there is no end to the paranoia, lust for power, and totalitarianism lurking just below the surface. We now have the marginal at the center and the center at the margins.

The lessons of the French Revolution, the evils of the USSR’s formation and expansion, Mao’s murderous Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot’s destruction of Cambodia, Iran’s self-immolation…all of these started with words like “freedom” and “the people” and ended with authoritarians killing “counterrevolutionary” people. 

Now we have feminist pioneers being eviscerated for not wanting men to compete in women’s sports. Science is thrown out the window and feelings reign supreme. Religious business owners (only Christian, by the way) are targeted for destruction. Arresting thieves becomes a cause for accusations of a “history of racism” with college leaders agitating…and when found out, hiding behind the very First Amendment they hate so much. 
Cambridge scholars cannot speak at Oxford. Former Muslims are forced off platforms. Exposure of jihadism becomes a cause for accusation of another “phobe.” 

We can do better in a free and virtuous society. But we must have the character and courage to debate without rancor and live peaceably with our deepest differences.

Civility and Freedom

The first freedom of a civil society is liberty of conscience/religion. Living with civility and debating world views is critical for ordered freedom. Allowing for changes in perspective, policy and religious conviction and being thankful for redemption is also part of a civil society. 
People change. They may move in directions I differ with, but I want to offer ears of openness instead of suspicion, and a heart of humility instead of ideological rigidity. 

I am sad that there so few Democrats that are pro-life, unlike the 1980s. I am sad that too many Republicans do not see the structural barriers to equity for many Americans. I am gladdened by the efforts of local leaders of all parties that work together for neighborhood renewal. 

And I remain convinced that the Gospel-centered local church as a community of holy love, is the key catalyst of personal and community transformation. 

Dear political leaders and pundits: please evaluate current ideas and actions and do not judge women and men of either party too quickly based on 20, 30 and 40-year-old statements.
To all thoughtful friends: please pause and reflect before public reaction. You will keep friends and your ideas will be better-informed.