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.
Learning thoughtfulness amidst the overwhelming data around us is challenging. In our desires for peace and justice, we must refine our critical thinking capacities and recognize what is timeless truth and what are timely opinions.
Here are some differences that make a difference:
Legitimate outrage about racism vs. anarchy and destruction.
Repairing historic, systemic injustices vs. calls for ending the family and imposing Marxism.
Repentance of prejudices of class, gender, and race vs. hatred for anyone with traditional values.
Passionate, principled debate vs. a cancel culture of personal destruction.
Building a world with true toleration vs. fear of violence.
Serious journalistic inquiry and allowing real evidence to further investigation vs. repetition of talking points and allegations.
Repairing our environment vs. alarmism cloaking wealth redistribution.
Accepting history as a tapestry of beautiful and broken narratives vs. cherry picking for agendas.
Treating every person with dignity and respect and respecting cultural diversity vs. blanket categorizations and generalizations.
Freedom of conscience allowing us to bring our best selves to the public square vs. privatizing any moral and religious convictions.
Let’s help the world be more thoughtful.
In 1984, a Christian poet and dissident from the
Soviet Union wrote a book, “Talking about God is Dangerous.” The wall
has fallen – and our angry culture is building a new one. Freedom for
one is liberty for all…let’s be civil and wise, but never give way to
censorship of ideas. Disagreement is not intolerance and choosing moral
and religious values does not make folks, “phobes.”
Debating our deepest differences with civility is the heart of ordered liberty. My Muslim friends regard Jesus as a prophet…I regard him as God, crucified and risen for my salvation. We disagree. I do not regard Mohammed as a prophet, but I respect my Muslim neighbor’s right to disagree with me. Atheists find my convictions quaint or even dangerous. I disagree with their arguments…and we can be friends. My biblical sexual ethic is at odds with many – and we can make the world a better place together caring for the vulnerable. But please do not castigate my ethics as intolerant.
Will we continue our historical progress toward true toleration or retreat to oppression and castigate anyone not sharing our precise language? I am confident that a free market of ideas produces much better fruit than a world of self-appointed, politically correct marshals waiting to pounce.
Let’s get to work and make our world better, one conversation at a time.
Everyday there are opportunities
for principled compromise and proximate justice in your service. Some
questions to guide your actions:
Do you care about the poor or your power?
Do you want hospitable, legal and secure immigration or talking points?
Can you critique ideas and policies without exaggeration and insult?
Will your secure our financial future with a balanced budget, or just pretend that it does not matter?
Will you look for partnerships or do you prefer polemics and “gotchas’?
Will you fashion reparations as access, equity, and opportunity or another way to stoke resentment?
Will you affirm freedom of conscience and religion and allow people to bring their best selves to the public square, or will you despise the very traditions that offer your current liberties?
Are you willing to normalize your pensions and retirements, saving buckets of money, and serve the public without thought to your gain?
In short, will you be adults, reflecting before reacting, negotiating instead of just negating, and offering vision for the future?
Dear President Trump,
I pray for you: for purity of heart, divine love, and the wisdom and strength to carry out the impossible duties of your office.
Three things I long for as you lead:
- Clear policy communication without personal insults.
- A balanced budget for our children’s future.
- More convening with people that do not agree with you so we might discover a principled middle ground.
I agree on some policies and disagree on others. Your desire to help our
nation will be enhanced with humility. I do not mean apologizing for
particular principles, but opening pathways of peacemaking.
OK, three more things:
- Call a racial reconciliation summit and listen deeply to the cries of the historically underserved.
- Call an immigration summit and forge a hospitable, secure and compassionate policy.
- Meet with leaders of all faiths and none and reaffirm the brilliance of freedom of conscience and true toleration.<
was no fan of the prior administration, but I prayed for and still pray
for those that were part of those years. While applauding some of your
initiatives, I long for you to choose statesmanship. You will never win
over inveterate enemies, but you may get more done in service of all.