Category Archives: Israel

The Morning After: November 7 and January 21

“There’s got to be a morning after; if we can hold on through the night. We have a chance to find the sunlight; let’s keep on looking for the light…”

These words from the theme song to the “Poseidon Adventure” speak to the hearts of millions of Americans as we prepare to vote and live with the consequences. (The song was the best part of an otherwise campy disaster movie!)

We will once again be part of a peaceful continuation and transfer of power, with some officials looking for work and others placed in offices that will require creativity, discipline and integrity if we are going to move forward.

I do hope we see a complete change of direction and focus in Washington, D.C. We need balanced budgets, intelligent projection of power against Islamic terrorism, sound social policies that care for the needy without bankrupting our nation and business and energy policies that recognize reward for risk and careful stewardship of the beautiful world God has bequeathed humankind. We can be energy independent and have a cleaner environment.

We also need a rebirth of civil debate that focuses on solving real problems and assessing fundamental issues without descending into the quagmire of name-calling, personal attack and hoary generalizations rooted in ideological myths instead of first principles and empirical realities.

We can affirm traditional marriage and offer legal status for other arrangements, without altering the universal understanding of marriage and family that has guided every civilization.

We can stop the holocaust of abortion and infanticide and help vulnerable parents raise their children, find adoptive homes and discover a better future.

We can balance a budget if we will stop trying to maintain a federal warfare and welfare state. We do have local and state governments that work…we can learn from these examples and re-empower local and state political and social progress.

We can create a just system of federal taxation. All it takes is courage, honesty and a willingness to be a one-term official.

We can support Israel and pave the wave for a new Palestinian state committed to non-violence and reciprocal prosperity. All it takes is moral courage, calling the bluffs of radicals and demonstrating that representative democracy is the best form of government. There is no place for Temple and Holocaust denial in a peaceful Middle East.

We can care for the medical needs of all our citizens with innovative private-public partnerships that are humane, local and subject to effective ethical oversight, not a bloated bureaucracy.

All of these ideas will only work with a nation of self-regulating, virtuous citizens. Failure to regulate our own moral, economic and social behavior brings anarchy and paves the way for totalitarian control.

We need to secure our borders and create hospitality centers that welcome hard-working people from around the world. There is a place for seasonal work and permanent residency. There is a way to create a pathway to citizenship for all that come legally. We do not need to atone any longer for real and false guilt from 1848 or any other moment. We need to empty our prisons of violent illegal convicts and deport them. At the same time, we can foster new channels to welcome and integrate new friends.

Thomas More’s famous work Utopia literally means “no-where.” (“U” = no; topos = “land” or “place”). I do not believe we can achieve perfection in this age. I do believe we can make progress.

What about race? In 2008 we proved to ourselves that skin color did not matter. We need to do the same in 2012. Character, competence, ideals and policies, along with leadership, relational ability and a love for our founders’ principles should guide our decisions. I would happily vote for J.C. Watts. Condi Rice is admirable. I wish Thomas Sowell was the chief economist – we would have greater prosperity! We need the voices of John Perkins and Shelby Steele. Race is more than a black/white issue. There are people from every culture that will contribute to an American future. Let’s celebrate our diversity-in-unity instead of balkanizing.

Please pray, get informed and vote. After the parties, the lamenting and rejoicing, the real work begins.

Ready to Vote?

In twelve days, Americans go to the voting booths. We will participate in both continuity an change as we cast our ballots. Some officials will be re-elected; others will find new work. Some ordinances and propositions will become law; others will await the next cycle or become a memory. It is good for us to pause in our celebration and recognize that the American Experiment is both exceptional and hard-won.  Our founders’ vision was extraordinary and the stability bequeathed to subsequent generations remains unprecedented in world history. This experiment in virtue-based liberty built on First Principles is something to celebrate.

This liberty has come with much suffering as well. It took a Civil War and Civil Rights to grant the franchise to millions of African-American citizens. Women were finally accorded the vote in 1920, after decades of petition and protest. Our soldiers suffering in Vietnam were the catalysts for opening this opportunity to 18 year old women and men. As we approach this election, we can rejoice that millions have the opportunity to shape the continuities and changes in local, state and national direction. We must also be vigilant that every legitimate vote is counted, from our military overseas to absentees at at home. We must reject all attempts to intimidate citizens as they express their freedom. At the same time, voting is the privilege of citizens, not documented or undocumented guests.

Are we ready to vote? I offer the following as a “The Twelve Days of Voting” preparation strategy that will make our nation stronger. Whether my readers agree with my opinions is less important than adhering to precepts of excellent preparation. Here are Twelve Questions, one for each day, as we prepare to cast our ballots:

Day One: Are we getting informed about our local and state issues as well as the Presidential race? Are we reading about the ordinances and propositions for our city, county and state? Are we aware of the positions of local and state candidates on issues that are important to us?

Day Two: Are we thinking about the Public Checkbook and electing men and women that will be good stewards our OUR money? We can and should argue how to spend public funds – there is much room for important debate here. But we must end the red ink at all levels.

Day Three: Are we investigating the voting records of incumbents and their connections with various special interests, regardless of party?

Day Four: Will we pause and pray for Almighty God to show mercy to a nation absorbed in her own pleasure, captivated by image, numbed by information overload and too eager to receive largess without considering its sources?

Day Five: After this pause, will we make friends with people outside our self-congratulatory circles, engage in civil dialogue and encourage others to vote?

Day Six: Will we focus on the local issues, asking ourselves which issues matter for future flourishing?

Day Seven: Will we concentrate on state issues, remembering the names of our assembly and senate leaders, evaluate their ideals and positions and prepare to cast our ballots intelligently?

Day Eight: Let’s look at the larger world as we examine our choices for Congress and the President. Which leaders do we trust the most to represent America well, both in our economic and safety interests as well as our ideals of freedom? What leaders will show courage in the face of Islamicist terrorism?

Day Nine: Which congressional and presidential candidates will balance the federal checkbook better? Which women and men will consider future generations in the budgets they pass?

Day Ten: Today we pause and consider the visions and values of the candidates and how they resonate with our own. We want character and competence, but ideals matter and we hope they have some humility as well, remembering that they serve us and not the reverse.

Day Eleven: Time for a final review and much more prayer and we implore the Lord for grace, love and truth in all things. This is a good day to read some quotes from Washington, Madison, John Quincy Adams, Lincoln and others.

Day Twelve: We vote, open our homes and stay up too late watching the results, celebrating peaceful transitions and preparing to hold all officials accountable.

Let’s be ready to vote with wisdom.

The Power of Our Choices

With less than one month of electioneering remaining, the battles intensify as all the candidates at every level begin their sprint to the finish line. Beyond the elected offices are thousands of local and state propositions. It can be overwhelming, but it is a historical privilege to have a real say in our future. Please get informed, pray often and vote! Our choices matter and the future of our nation rests upon responsible, virtuous citizens exercising their God-given and Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

But there is even more power in other choices we make. Who we elect is not the most important factor in our destiny. Both conservatives and progressives are concerned about our future, often for similar reasons. Conservatives are deeply troubled by the ever-expanding reach of the federal government. Progressives bemoan the increasing gaps between rich and poor. Conservatives see under performing schools and agitate for vouchers. Progressives see the same realities and opt for increased public funding. Economic uncertainly is the concern of all, with each group offering different solutions, but no one is in denial that we need change. Conservatives are deeply uncomfortable with a foreign policy that tries to accommodate enemies dedicated to our demise. Progressives want to change perceptions of America and express more humility and interconnectedness. Both groups eschew intolerance and want to minimize violence.

There are choices we can make that will alter our national trajectory, even if we keep arguing on many public policy matters. Here are a few that may unite us instead of divide us further:

  • Apart from abuse, adultery and abandonment, we can stay married and serve our children. This is the single greatest factor for future success and stability, trumping economics and education. We can make sure our children arrive at school ready to learn.
  • We can offer our companies, families and communities a full day’s work, with good motives and ethical-relational integrity.
  • We can do business with the aim of adding value instead of extracting it from others.
  • We can balance our own checkbooks and hold public officials responsible for how they spend the people’s money. (Yes, we will still argue over how to spend it – the key is not spending more than we take in!) 
  • We can defend the poor, broken and vulnerable, from conception to coronation.
  • We can offer our time to help others instead of just agitating. The victims of social evils need friends as well as money and professional help.
  • We can look for ways to create wealth, not just redistribute current assets.
  • We can add beauty to the world by voluntarily celebrating and supporting the arts. Not every effort needs a government subsidy.
  • We can make friends with our neighbors.
  • If we turn off technology and get physically active, we are contributing to reducing health care costs without spending any money.
  • Our prayers matter to God and the future of the planet.
  • We can pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Affirming Israel’s right to exist as a beacon of democracy and supporting a new democratic Palestinian nation dedicated to peace is the only way forward.
  • We can make some new friends across cultural and generational lines. It will be fun to eat new foods, understand new ways of seeing the world and build a virtuous consensus in our communities.
  • We can reject hatred even while we critique choices and ideas. Every person we meet is made in God’s image.

Our nation’s future depends upon the mercy of God and the choices of millions of “regular” people. We can end the pernicious influence of pornography – there is an “off” button! We can reduce abortions by loving those already pregnant and helping the unmarried see the wisdom of waiting. By the way, the fathers need to own up to their part in this process! Civility is not passivity or just being sweet. Civility is looking for connections and choosing respect over rejection, affirmation over anger and forging new agreements when possible instead of picking up our toys and leaving the conversations.

At first, these choices seem self-evident and simplistic; however, actually living this way is a challenge. Sometimes there are addictions and traumas requiring extra care. We must not have contempt for those that struggle. But we must affirm the struggle! In our world of deep wounds and pernicious narcissism, the way of civility and service is rarely navigated easily. But it is worth our effort to offer succeeding generations a world worth enjoying.