Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thinking Points For Today

One concept that has become prominent in our political parlance is that of "talking points." The Right has really perfected this, and now the Left is on board with it as well. There's really nothing at all wrong with the idea, but simply shoving a set of "talking points" at the public can be extremely coercive and isn't always terribly honest.

I want to introduce, in this Blog, the concept of "thinking points." Most of my Thinking Points will be statements, but many will be questions. The Gospels record Jesus as frequently having asked questions instead of merely opening up people's heads and spooning in pat answers. He often even answered others' questions with questions of His own, as He knew this was an effective way of getting them to really stop and think.

So in that spirit, here are my Thinking Points for Today:

* Is it really effective moral leadership for those who have appointed themselves leaders merely to lecture others about what they should or should not do? Would it not be more effective if these so-called leaders led by example? How much credibility can "Christian" preachers and politicians truly expect to have when so many of them live such sloppy lives themselves? And if America wants to be a moral leader in the world, should we not "walk the walk" before we "talk the talk?" Is the moral crisis in our society not made much worse by the fact that so many of us are so unwilling to take the beam out of our own eye -- both as individuals and as a society -- before we attempt to get the speck out of others'?

* Ought we to place so much credibility in leaders -- either political or religious -- who stand to gain so much, in terms of money, power or prestige, from their "leadership?" When they mindlessly demonize certain other people or groups, singling them out as enemies or scapegoats, should we always listen? Why do we listen to leaders so uncritically when they belong to "our side," and find it so easy to believe the preposterous lies they tell about those on "the other side?" Whatever happened to our own, personal responsibility in choosing wisely whom we will or will not listen to or follow? What will become of our free and democratic society if we continue to function so passively?

* When the two aforementioned questions are asked, why is our most immediate response to say, "Well, the other side does it, too?" Over whom do we have more influence: ourselves, or somebody else? Do we see this sort of buck-passing in others as an attractive trait, or do we recognize it as childishness? Why do we believe it is any more attractive when we do it than it is when they do? Is there any other way to change the situation than for each and every one of us to simply jump in and take the initiative to live, in every possible way, the way we know in our hearts we ought to -- regardless of whether other people follow?

I can't answer for anybody else, but I know in my own heart-of-hearts that true leadership involves personal, individual integrity before anything else. And though my past track-record is probably as spotty as everybody else's, I personally pledge to live the rest of my life this way. How many others are ready, willing, able and determined to join me?

I don't care what other people do. The only person I can be is myself, and the only life I can live is my own.


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