For years I have been challenging myself, other leaders, and elected officials to offer compelling visions of the future that are inclusive, just, and propel all people and communities toward flourishing. Without hope (tempered by realism), we are left with either anarchy leading to new forms of totalitarianism, or timeworn experiments that have proven fruitless.
Here are some questions for those who care about our global and local future:
- Is your vision inclusive of all classes and cultures? Or are you preying on envy and resentment and fomenting conflict to secure power over others?
- Is your vision doable and can it be paid for without stifling creativity and opportunity? Are your ideas incrementally achievable or grandiose talking points rooted in scare tactics?
- Does your vision continue enshrining freedom of conscience, religion, speech, and peaceable assembly, or are you placing whole groups outside the pale because they are not enlightened enough?
- Does your vision include both changed hearts and just systems? Good intentions are helpful, but without access, equity, and opportunity, they will ring hollow.
- Does your vision allow for progress without instant perfection and proximate justice on the way to full liberation? Can you find ways for principled compromise?
- Does your vision build on the lessons of history so that old mistakes are not repeated, and wisdom can be applied afresh to new challenges? Or are you trapped in the recent fallacy that dismisses the insights of previous generations?
- Does your vision reflect the need for people of character as well as new public policies?
A fresh vision of “there” will require imagination, integrity, intentional action, and a love for continual learning and refinement. We will never build a perfect world, but we can make the present one better.
To all who are “triggered” by the free exchange of ideas:
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
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.”
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.
I am very concerned with the triumph of emotivism in academic/intellectual circles. Critical thinking is not confined to a culture, gender or race. Critical thinking needs new attention so our dialogues move us toward truth, and, where possible, principled compromise on policies. Please friends, let’s be unafraid listen with humility and observe with objectivity.
In our polarized world, there two things that offer hope:
- shared encounters in community worship; and
- shared engagement in God’s work that renews our communities. God’s presence expands our hearts in holy love and practical work expresses our unity in service.
For centuries, human beings have sought meaning. In our century, we are debating the meaning of being human. Grateful for the Biblical story that offers identity and hope, humility and purpose.
Lord, please heal us.
Heal our hearts: touch our deepest wounds as use us as emissaries of compassion.
Heal our heads: liberate our minds from captivity to crowds and release fresh thinking.
Heal our hands: deliver us from selfish motives and methods and unleash innovation and integrity for the common good.
Lord, heal our land, one prayer, one kind word, one sacrificial act at a time.
Dear “kneelers” and “standers” –
As you exercise your freedoms, I have one request:
When the cameras are off, please pursue the ancient prophet’s great call: “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Character is proven when no one is looking.
Dear Mr. President,
I am grieved today.
Not at your love for the Flag, but your insulting remarks about those that disagree with you.
Your Christian values should include love for those that differ and self-control in your speech.
Plain speech can be a virtue, but there is no place for name-calling and vulgarity.
I agree and disagree with some of your policies, but your inflammatory reactions diminish your Office and hinder your positive aims.
“Make America Great Again” must mean living with our deepest differences, hearing each other’s pains and humbly forging alliances for good…not polarizing tweets and alienating many that would otherwise sit down and work out solutions.
You have better things to do that insert yourself into the NFL: healthcare, immigration, North Korea, the Middle East, national infrastructure, ballooning debt and a divided public square…these are worthy of thoughtful attention, not disinviting a kind voice such as Steph Curry.
Please demonstrate statesmanship.
“Speaking truth to power.”
A favorite phrase of all protesters.
Dear agitators of all ideologies:
Anger and clichés will not promote a flourishing society.
We need to give up two fantasies: a neo-1950s Americanism (the “good old days”) and socialist utopias (“Marx just hasn’t been applied properly”)
If we aspire for a just society, consider the following…
Truth: Our cities are overwhelmed with infrastructure, pension and welfare obligations and anti-enterprise policies.
Power: decades of political corruption must be overcome.
Truth: Racism still permeates much of our society.
Power: We must face both individual iniquity and institutional injustice. The former must be confronted within particular communities; the latter is the work of the privileged.
Truth: Religious women and men of all faiths that believe in heterosexual monogamy and celibacy for singles are not homophobes, bigots or haters, just trying to live their deepest convictions.
Power: all alternative advocates need to examine their own intolerance.
Truth: We can do better on healthcare, ensuring compassionate and effective services.
Power: Ethics/Standards need to be universal; administration must be local.
Truth: Environmental stewardship and scientific innovation ensure resources for improving economies.
Power: Neither UN symbols or massive deregulation lead us forward – only wise private-public cooperation based on honest data and hope, not propaganda and fear will offer a future.
Truth: Immigration reform is stymied by business and political powers that want cheap labor and subversion of citizenship boundaries.
Power: Hospitable and just policies within Constitutional boundaries can be forged with courage and love.
Dear millions of friends of conscience:
Let’s not only speak, but act. Protesting is easy. Actual change is hard.
One new friendship across the divides, one new act of compassion, one new business providing local jobs, one new church reaching out…let’s begin.