The Duty to Speak Out

There’s this mentality amongst some Americans that we shouldn’t stir things up – we shouldn’t talk about stuff that is uncomfortable, or might hurt our friends’ feelings, or might make us less popular, or whatever. And I just can’t live like that. Trying to live like that can make a person insane. So here are my thoughts this morning:

For too long we in America have let ourselves be pushed around and bullied by Big Business and politicians – by the gun industry, by mega food corporations like Monsanto, and by politicians who are in the back pockets of these hoodlums – and it is time to take our country back. It is time to make this nation, once again, a nation “by the people, of the people, and for the people” – as it was meant to be. YOU and I are “the people.” This is OUR country – and we are responsible for maintaining its well-being. It is, in fact, our duty to use our First Amendment rights of free speech to keep our nation healthy and safe. The politicians are OUR EMPLOYEES – they work for US – we are their bosses. And when our employees – the politicians who work for us – aren’t doing their job it is time to let them go. 

It is time for Americans to buck up, show some courage, and speak out. It is time to confront corporate and political bullies. and to firmly escort them out of their positions of power in our government.

Roseburg. Charleston. Newtown. Virginia Tech. Ford Hood. Aurora. Marysville, Chattanooga, Washington Navy Yard, Killeen TX, Columbine . No more. It needs to stop now.

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What happened to that whole “the buck stops here” thing?

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. – Peter Drucker

To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less. – Andre Malraux

…he that is greatest among you shall be your servant… – Matthew 23

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. –Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

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Yeah, I used that Lincoln quote in my last post, too. I keep coming back to Lincoln in my thoughts. Now THERE was a man who knew how to lead. He valued the sacrifices of others, was willing to make sacrifices himself, and was motivated by the desire to keep our nation united and the people who live in it free.  He had the courage to make the tough decisions, and he had the wisdom to know when the time had come to make those decisions.  Lincoln recognized that our nation didn’t belong to him, but that he belonged to it. He understood that he was a servant, and that the nation belonged “of the people, by the people, for the people…”

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Soooo… have you all seen the video clip wherein Rep. Neugebauer – one of the legislators who voted to shut down our government – is telling a federal park ranger that SHE should be ashamed for turning people away from the gates to the federal park? – trying to make it sound like the poor ranger  is somehow to blame for this whole government kerfuffle? http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Congressman-Confronts-Park-Ranger-Over-Closed-WWII-Memorial-226209781.html

Thanks to Rep. Neugebauer and his legislative cohorts – that park ranger and 800,000 other federal employees are on unpaid furlough.  It is interesting to note that Rep. Neugebauer – also a federal employee – will continue to receive his salary. Yup. That’s right. He will continue to get paid for not doing his job.

And then there’s this fellow over at FOX news: “Fox Business host Stuart Varney believes that the ongoing government shutdown, while presenting no real threat to the economy, offers an opportunity to ‘punish’ federal workers for ‘living on our backs.'”  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/10/03/foxs-varney-on-furloughed-federal-employees-i-w/196261

Seriously?!!

Federal employees include our military men and women, maintenance people, construction workers, secretaries, park and museum workers, librarians, scientists who work to protect our environment, disaster emergency workers – people who work very hard – sometimes at the sacrifice of life and limb – to protect us, inform us, and provide us with services.  And they are most certainly not parasites who “live on our backs.” Federal employees are public servants, not public slaves. They earn their salaries and deserve to be paid for their services – at least as much as our legislators.

Our senators and representatives are also supposed to be public servants.  We elected them to serve us. We are their employers. And when they are no longer serving us – when they are no longer doing their jobs – I’m thinking it is time for them to go.

What are the qualities that you want to see in  a nation’s leaders? Intelligence, responsibility, empathy, compassion, honesty, integrity, selflessness, wisdom – these are all qualities I value in a leader. Mary Baker Eddy describes, in Prose Works, the type of individual I want representing me: “The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the sane, – at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen…He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be, – full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain it by reproachable means.”

Finger-pointing, blame-gaming, “passing the buck” – these are not indicative of good leadership.

“The buck stops here,” read a sign on President Truman’s desk. Now THAT’s what real leadership looks like.

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“…he that is greatest among you shall be your servant…” – Matthew 23

“Pride and fear are unfit to bear the standard of Truth… ” – Mary Baker Eddy

“Love inspires,  illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to  speech and action.” – Mary Baker Eddy

Government Of the People, By the People, For the People

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

“…he that is greatest among you shall be your servant…” – Matthew 23

Our government exists to serve us. In fact, according to Abraham Lincoln, our government IS us.  Those politicians who represent us in our government are our employees, entrusted to work for us and keep our infrastructure and governmental offices running smoothly.

When the time comes that our politicians – our employees – are no longer concerned with serving us – then it is time for them to move on to other endeavors.  It is time for us to let them go.

I came upon some passages in The Bible today that I found timely.  These passages talked of service – of how the real leaders aren’t the ones who are served, but the ones who serve:

 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;  he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.  After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded… So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. – John 13

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve… – Luke 22

Life, Love, Truth (God) bless those individuals who step up to the plate and put themselves in positions of responsibility and service. I pray to know they will have the wisdom of Solomon in these challenging times – that they won’t divide “the baby in half’ to appease jealousy,  rivalry,  and political demands. I pray to know that those who represent us will know when to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Luke 20).  And I pray that they will know when to, like Jesus, turn their backs on those who would make them kings (John 6).

Pride and fear are unfit to bear the standard of Truth… – Mary Baker Eddy

On Politics, Voting, and Separation of Church and State

“Do the unexpected. Take 20 minutes of your day to do what young people all over the world are dying to do: vote.” – Rick Mercer (Canadian Wit Extraordinaire)

“Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy has always believed that those who are entitled to vote should do so, and she has also believed that in such matters no one should seek to dictate the actions of others.” – from Prose Works by Mary Baker Eddy

I appreciate that in the Christian Science movement there’s no official authority telling its members how to vote on issues, or which politicians they should try to elect.  Members are expected to vote as individual conscience and understanding dictate.  And this, I believe, is as it should be.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, was a strong believer in separation of church and state.  She writes, in Miscellaneous Writings: “Progress, legitimate to the human race, pours the healing balm of Truth and Love into every wound. It reassures us that no Reign of Terror or rule of error will again unite Church and State, or re-enact, through the civil arm of governments, the horrors of religious persecution.” (No and Yes, p 44) And, warning against the tendency of religious institutions to try to dictate the workings of government, she writes: “It is the pulpit and press, clerical robes and the prohibiting of free speech, that cradles and covers the sins of the world, – all unmitigated systems of crime; and it requires the enlightenment of these worthies, through civil and religious reform, to blot out all inhuman codes. It was the Southern pulpit and press that influenced the people to wrench from man both human and divine rights, in order to subserve the interests of wealth, religious caste, civil and political power.”

Although there’s no one within the Christian Science church telling its member which political candidate should get their vote, Mary Baker Eddy did describe, in Prose Works, the type of individual I want representing me: “The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the sane, – at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen…He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be, – full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain it by reproachable means.”

My conscience and understanding lead me in the direction that points towards individual freedom and choice. One of the guiding questions for me, as I vote on ballot issues, is: “Is this any of my business?”  As the Bible says, we all need to work out our own salvation. We all need to be allowed to have our own experience, and to make our own choices – so long as those choices do not cause harm to others.

In the Bible, Peter had pretty strong words to say towards those inclined to be a “busybody” – putting it in the same category as “murderer” and “evildoer”:  “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” – I Peter 4: 15

(Whoah, right?)

And when considering the workings of politics, and separation of church and state, I’ve always found these passages in The Bible helpful:

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” – John 6: 15

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

“ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

“They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

“When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

–   Matthew 22

Amen.

I love this!:

http://www.upworthy.com/this-is-what-theyre-teaching-the-kids-in-schools-these-days?c=upw6