Observations

In Control Redux


I’ve received some interesting feedback on my recent post, “In Control.”   Some complimented me for being willing to tell the truth as I saw it, and I was surprised by a very nice collection of comments from people who disagree with me but gave kudos for the clarity and style of the writing.  I’ve also received some email from people I have never met who express how much they agree with my post, and who have much the same viewpoint.

On the other hand, people have suggested that I am going to Hell because I am not a Trump supporter, and have questioned my patriotism, my intellect, and my manhood.  One witty (and anonymous) responder offered the opinion that I “should stick to writing about being [mentally and physically disabled], because that’s what you’re good at.”

That’s a successful blog post, in my view.

One of the great things about being American is the tradition of speaking out, publicly expressing viewpoints about controversial subjects, and then not being jailed or executed by an oppressive, dictatorial government that cannot bear the burden of thoughtful criticism. On the whole, I would like to avoid being jailed or executed for the words I use, but just how much I’m motivated to “behave” depends on how important I think the words are.

Liberty. Honor. Duty. Freedom. Justice. Compassion. Truth.  I think these words and the concepts they embody are worth dying for. It’s not my first choice, clearly. From a certain perspective, however, I’m slowly dying today because of my commitment to these concepts. I didn’t pay the ultimate price on the battlefield like so many have in the defense of these principles, but I also didn’t ignore the call when it came.

I believe that the American ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are among the best thoughts about how to live together successfully that have ever been conceived by mankind.  I think they fell short in a couple of areas; counting one set of people as only worth 3/5 of another set is reprehensible, and failing to acknowledge that the phrase “all men are created equal” doesn’t expressly exclude half the population is just dumb.  However, it’s arguable that those failures were the product of the time during which the Framers lived, and at least they included a process for correcting their inability to accurately predict the future within the Constitution.

We are supposed to be a principled people.  We are supposed to place freedom and liberty above greed and self-interest. We are supposed to hold our fellow citizens accountable for their actions, and insist on justice when they fail to live by the rules we have all agreed are in our common interest.  We are called to provide equality of opportunity, but we cannot guarantee equality of outcome.  We are obligated to take care of the disadvantaged, but we are not required to countenance sloth.

It’s a hard job to manage a free society.  We have to balance competing interests, and not everyone is happy all the time.  We have to horse-trade and compromise to get what we need in a pluralistic society, and the goal is not complete happiness, it’s the freedom to pursue happiness. By demonizing those that have a different way or different beliefs, however, we limit our ability to find common ground.

We are not living up to our most precious ideals.  We are not insisting that our institutions serve us, and that our leaders exemplify the best in us.  And we will pay a heavy price if we don’t wake up.

I’ll say it again: my belief is that God is NOT in control.  God is not The Great and Powerful Oz, pushing buttons and pulling switches in a cloud of smoke.  We are free to make choices; those choices have consequences. We chose to elect Donald Trump, and we will have to live with the consequences of that choice, but we are also free to choose again.

According to a recent estimate, our current president has told an average of seven substantial lies every day he has been in office.  It’s not a crime to be a liar (usually – I wouldn’t advise lying to the FBI, though) but don’t we deserve better? Even if the conventional wisdom is that “all politicians lie,” whose fault is it that we allow such nonsense? For many, the prevailing viewpoint during the 2016 elections was, “throw the bums out.”  We weren’t careful who we let in, though.

You can love Trump or hate him.  You can be a single issue voter focused on abortion, gun control, the stock market, the Supreme Court, or any one of multiple other issues that divide us.  You can be defined by who you hate, or you can be defined by what you hold dear.  In the end, we will get the leaders we deserve, and the society we insist upon having.  I am begging you, though – insist on BETTER. We need statesmen and women to lead us out of the current quagmire.  We need principled, smart, capable patriots. And even more than that, we need a populace that cares.

“Trump isn’t so bad.  After all, Barack Obama/Bill Clinton/Hillary Clinton/George Bush/Ronald Reagan/Abraham Lincoln [did something irrelevant to the current situation, but which serves as a nice distraction.]”  Come on – focus on what’s in front of us.

“Collusion isn’t ILLEGAL, after all.” If that’s as high a bar as you’re willing to establish, please be sick on Election Day.

“But the stock market is doing fine.  What’s your problem?” Read up on history.  You might start with the French Revolution.

“Liberal Democrats just have a grudge against a fundamentally good man.”  Please – define “fundamentally good” in the context of marital infidelity, rampant dishonesty, diplomatic clumsiness, lack of clear understanding, and administrative incompetence. And, by the way, I am neither liberal nor a Democrat.

“We won the election.  Hillary isn’t coming back. Just suck it up.”  I personally don’t want Hillary back, but that’s not relevant.  And I’ll suck it up precisely as long as the law requires me to, and I won’t be quiet while it’s happening.

“It’s all fake news/a witch hunt/a conspiracy.”  Really? Mr. Trump, the truth will set either you or us free.  I’m all in – either call or fold.

“God is in control.” Stop it – it’s neither true nor Biblical.  It’s just cowardly.