Tag Archives: humility

Some Wisdom Amidst the Noise, Part 4

Over the years, I have been labeled, “Messenger to the Thoughtful.” This is not, “messenger to the academic elites or people that are rich and smart.” Thoughtfulness is the privilege of every person, regardless of class or race, economics or education. If we approach God and the world with humility and wonder and treat people, with love and respect, we will enjoy a lifetime of learning and grow in wisdom. Here are a few more reflections – please help me keep learning!

Courage is loving instead of hating, responding instead of reacting and serving while others compete for power.

When possible, look for “both/and” instead of the “either/or” limitations. This does not work for moral absolutes, but is desperately needed in practical decisions, public policy and community flourishing.

There will always be others smarter and stronger than us; but we can reach the full measure of the divine intention for our lives.

Thank you, friends, for the good you bring to the world every day.

Thank you to every parent rushing to your kid’s cultural and sporting events today. Yes, it is worth it as you nourish their bodies and minds. Some of you are single, some married, some in blended situations…thank you for caring deeply for your children and nurturing the next generation.

Three Monday thoughts:
Decide ahead of time to make the right ethical choices;
Think deeply and prayerfully;
Act decisively for God’s glory and the good of others.
And inner peace and positive impact will follow.

May today bring tears of intercession, shouts of grateful joy, profound reflection on important matters, delightful laughter as we watch people and a chance to serve someone who cannot return the favor.

Lord, give me a critical mind and tender heart, evaluating ideas and principles without passing sentence on persons. Amen.

Telling the Truth: Political Realities, Part 4

Once we are committed to integrity and to the costs of liberty (personal responsibility, delayed gratification and seeking the common good), here are some starting points understanding “the people”:

One: Life and justice issues often take precedence over ethnicity, gender and even class. Abortion, euthanasia, and crime and punishment affect people in every cultural category. America is deeply divided, often because of perceptions rather than serious moral reflection. For example, most people in all voting groups personally disapprove of at least some abortions. But if they are asked if they want to deny a “woman’s right to choose” they vote to protect abortion rights. State by state most Americans do not want to kill babies in the womb. The same inner conflicts exist for end-of-life issues with most recoiling at the thought of hastening death while simultaneously wanting to limit suffering. Anyone involved in our legal system becomes rather cynical as they see the wheels of justice turn imperfectly with power and wealth overtaking fairness.

Leaders must address these issues with both moral clarity and reasonable expectations. Eliminating all but a few abortions (on the way to the end of this practice), creating reasonable guidelines for stewarding terminal patients (without active euthanasia) and fostering restitution over incarceration are all avenues creating possible consensus.

Two: Most Americans have (at least aspirational) moral values and believe in traditional marriage; however, they are afraid of being seen as intolerant and do not want to deprive their alternate lifestyle neighbors of their rights. America and select Western nations are the first sociopolitical groups in history to equalize relationships that do not produce the next generation. Is there a way forward consistent with empirical data, moral values and maximal liberty?

Yes. But it requires a long-term civics lesson in America’s Constitution – a document designed to limit the scope of federal power, not impose it on individuals or states. Wise leaders will work to return more economic, political and social power to states and local governments. If a state wants unique marriage laws, that is fine, but marriage is not a civil right, it is a social contract left to the states (and a sacramental covenant for the religious). The path forward must reject homophobia and protect all persons while no longer marginalizing the deep values of many religious and secular people.

This sounds good in theory. However, “limited federal government” and “States’ Rights” are code words for slavery and Jim Crow among African Americans. It is only in the last 50 years that millions of women and men were allowed to vote and have (the beginnings of) equal access to economic and educational opportunities. Restoring local and personal power must not come at the expense of legitimate civil rights.

Three: President Eisenhower, a moderate Republican, warned of the power of the “military-industrial complex.” Progressives are naturally suspicious of the military and the politicians that are quick to deploy violent solutions before exhausting diplomatic options, especially the UN. Conservatives honor the military ethos and get frustrated when soldiers in the field have their hands tied in the war against terror.  Apart from absolute pacifism (a respectable position when applied consistently) and hair-trigger militarism, leaders must bring moral clarity and 21st century strategic wisdom to their stewardship of America’s defense.

America is on sound moral ground when she defends herself from attack in concert with her allies, while refusing policies of long-term occupation.

Telling the truth politically begins with each of us inwardly facing the truth about ourselves. When we embrace honesty and humility, repentance and reconciliation, there is hope for America and the world.

Telling the Truth About Islam, Part 3: The Powerful Weapon…of Humility

In the previous essays, the Islamist ethos of conquest was exposed. We must honestly face this threat to human liberty.

Confronting totalitarian ideology requires military and political courage and wisdom. The policies since 9-11-2001 have been haphazard at best and utter failures at worst.

But there is one more resource needed in the battle for liberty: humility about the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the West. The battle against fanaticism will never be won without integrity at the core of the fight. At first this sounds counter intuitive. Often folks say that if our opponents fight dirty, so must we. While there may be moments of compromise and subversion in any war, at the heart of success must be an unflinching faith in the values and vision for the civilization we are defending.

One of the Islamists’ most destructive and divisive tactics is their blistering critique of Western decadence, including our materialism, narcissism and racism. Each of these self-centered characteristics creates fertile ground for the poison of ideological extremism.

History loudly exposes the darker side of the West.All of these events embolden radicals with long memories:
• 15th-19th century conquest and exploitation of the Americas;
• 19th and 20th century European “mandates” in Africa and the Middle East;
• The conquest of the North American continent at the expense of indigenous rights;
• And the 20th century American domination of her empire acquired in war.

For the past six decades, the West has struggled to atone for prior evils and bring aid to the world, with mixed results. One thing does ring true, in spite of all the mistakes made:

Everywhere there is freedom of conscience and economic opportunity in the world, there has been some form of Christian and Western influence encouraging values that lead to human flourishing. And Islam has never produced a truly egalitarian democracy. These values include more than “freedom.” Religious faith, personal responsibility, access to markets, property rights and the rule of law are all part of this liberating ethos.

Time for Truth

Courage and humility, joined with reverence for the Almighty and respect for all persons, provide the moral and spiritual core strength for the long battle we must face with the global jihadists. If we continue to waste our energies in amoral and immoral entertainment and cultural distractions, there will not be the energy and focus needed for wise confrontation and defeat of determined enemies.