Throughout history, thoughtful men and women have agreed that cultures rise and fall on their inner moral virtues as well as their military and political prowess. “The Good, the True and the Beautiful” are categories that shape our worldview and civil society.
We live is a world deeply marred by injustice, oppression and ugliness. We also have astonishing moments of sacrificial virtue, justice and beauty. Contrary to the cliché, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” we can assert the universality of both the idea of beauty (with its cultural preferences) and certain human experiences that awaken awe and take our breath away.
Year ago, singer Sarah Groves presented the song, “Add to the Beauty.” Part of redeeming our world – however imperfectly – is each of us adding to the beauty. Such labors of love go beyond artistic expressions. Beauty is expansive and each of us can contribute, from doing daily work well with a great attitude to fostering new relationships.
As we lament over sin and violence, we also need a Sabbath of Beauty. There is so much beauty in our Father’s world. For example, a first glimpse of the Grand Canyon and hearing Bach on the cello. A baby’s unfeigned smile. Athletic ability honed by years of practice. Mountain peaks and ocean waves.
Let’s add to the beauty.
My first directly political comments this year:
Dear Congress, I am praying for you tonight. Please do your job and pass legislation.
Republicans, reach across the aisle with principled compromise and proximate justice.
Democrats, please do not let hatred for President Trump keep you from your stewardship. Stop posturing and start serving. It is possible that:
Healthcare can be refined without millions losing coverage.
Our military can be strengthened without the poor marginalized.
Our veterans deserve better.
The EPA can protect our lands without overreaching militancy.
All aspects of government can improve efficiency.
You do not need to wait for all your cues from the White House or the media. Show some courage and make some friends across the aisle.
Lord, bless all public servants with an unselfish disposition and a vision for the common good that yields fruitful work and public trust.
Courage and humility must find active expression as we confront enemies determined to destroy our cherished freedoms. Here are three more strategic insights for this long conflict:
One: We must repent of and repudiate all historical and present forms of oppression, including any divisions of class, gender, race, religion or political opinion. We will not always agree and should freely debate on all matters eternal and temporal. But we must want for all others the liberties and opportunities we desire for ourselves.
Two: We must humbly reaffirm our enduring values and offer genuine hope for better days in our neighborhoods and nations. Politicians must cease posturing and begin working for the common good. Moms and Dads need to place their children’s needs above their own and nurture their marriages. Local churches can commission their members for value creation in all domains of work.
Three: As we engage (tearfully) in military action, we fight to win without reducing our ethics to the dastardly ones of our opponents. We limit civilian casualties as best we can – yet we cannot tie the hands of troops with actionable intelligence. This will be very difficult, but necessary if we desire victory in hearts as well as military success.
The hardest parts of this conflict are the intractable attitudes of our enemies and the long, patient actions needed for victory. This is why character matters. Zealots cannotultimately win if met with greater moral/spiritual as well as military/political forces. Onlytrue humility can forge this better future.