As we converse, we need to include complexity and nuance as we aim for understanding. I am not qualifying any forms of evil or injustice but aiming for wisdom. There are two (among many others) critical thinking errors that often emerge as we aim for civil debate in the public square: The first is over-generalization, especially about groups of people. The second false combination, where we assume because a person thinks a certain way about one issue they will align on several others in a particular manner.
People vary greatly and do not always fit in tidy political categories. For example, as someone deeply concerned about protecting the vulnerable from conception to coronation, I want to see better gun control laws, more access to medical care and mental health services, and reform in our educational and economic policies so access, equity, and opportunity improve.
Racism in any form is a moral evil, calling for personal repentance and systemic change. Such transformations require humility and listening by those historically in power. And solutions that actually work will not fit neatly into ideological boxes. With the help of many friends and mentors, I am listening to many voices, most of which are unheard in a world of clickbait and “gotcha.” Business leaders and laborers, parents and clergy, academics and authors, social service workers and local public servants are all helping me grow in wisdom.
As we respond to this moment, one message I am hearing can help. These are not my wisdom or words, but sisters and brothers on the frontlines. Their message to all well-meaning folks: Take time and find out what the people in the communities and neighborhoods desire and need and invite local residents to forge the solutions. Listening to parents and local business owners about education, work, housing, and other issues will yield wisdom.
I desire that all others enjoy the opportunities, privileges and rights I enjoy. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is not a guarantee of outcomes, but a call for access and justice for all. Life is not a zero-sum game. There is room for all to fulfill their callings and develop their capacities.
Our deeply flawed President is correct when he challenges all lovers of freedom to consider the structures and values that contrast the best of the West with the totalitarian threats of Islamicism and radical global-secularists.
I am not defending the egregious actions and words of our leader(s).
I am asking that all of us look deeply into the first principles of virtue-based liberty and take responsibility for the moral and spiritual condition of America and Western Europe.
From the French Revolution to today, we see the tragic effects of removing reverence for the Almighty and replacing it with elitist scientism and technocracy.
I am NOT aiming to reify a prior age, but crying out for humility, reflection and renewal…and liberation from the anger, fear and hatred that spoils discourse and debate.
Dear Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,
Insults are substitutes for critical thinking and civil debate.
Calling Trump “racist” or “sexist” enables opponents to avoid both his record and serious consideration of their own classism and prejudices (i.e., “guns and religion” generalizations and marginalization)
Merely calling Clinton “crooked” does the same, preventing accountability for serious policy formulation (gender must not be the focus – policies and principles matter!)
Both candidates must offer insights on:
Immigration: can we be hospitable and wise?
Healing racial tensions.
National security and the fight against Islamic terrorism.
Balancing the budget and controlling the federal Leviathan.
Long-term entitlement stewardship.
Global military and political alliances and strategies.
The relationship between the federal government and freedom for persons and states.
Supreme Court nominees…
And there is so much more.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.