Who’s Responsible?

A man goes to a baseball field and shoots up the place where congressmen and their staffers are practicing for a charity baseball game. First, he asks one of the congressmen who is leaving whether the ones practicing are Democrats or Republicans. Glad to hear they are Republicans, whom he has castigated on social media and seeks to wipe off the face of America, he opens fire, spraying the field and wounding four; one congressman remains in critical condition.

The man who perpetrated the crime finally is taken down by police and dies shortly after at the hospital. Then the blame game begins.

Who is responsible for what this man did? Since he was a socialist and a follower of Bernie Sanders, is Sanders to blame? After all, Sanders has said some pretty harsh things about Republicans. Since the man hated Trump so much, perhaps Trump is the one who should be responsible because he “triggered” the man with his policies?

What’s the Biblical position?

Personal responsibility is an overwhelming theme in Scripture. We are responsible for the choices we make in life. No one forces us to make those choices. There can be influences upon us, things that push us in a certain direction, but when it comes down to choosing, that’s all on us.

There were influences on the man who decided to target Republicans. Some of those influences were way over the top in bitterness and hatred. There are people who are saying Republicans want everyone to die because they want to take away their healthcare. That’s one of the middle-of-the-road accusations. I won’t repeat the worst ones.

Yet those were influences only; he had to decide whether to follow through on them with a terrible deed. He died in his own sins; he’s responsible for what he did, regardless of what others said that might have egged him on.

However, there remains some culpability whenever anyone descends into hateful diatribes. God holds them accountable for that.

There is a difference, though, between vicious, hateful speech and truth-telling. As Christians, we are to speak the truth in love and we are called, as far as it depends on us, to be at peace with all men.

What’s the difference between truth-telling and hateful speech? Are we never, in our truth-telling, allowed to point out the real nature of certain philosophies and/or individuals who promote those philosophies?

Did I sin in numerous blogs when I disagreed with virtually everything Barack Obama stands for and how he conducted himself? Am I sinning now when I take Donald Trump to task for his character?

Have you ever looked carefully at Matthew 23? It’s a fascinating chapter wherein Jesus takes on the Pharisees in no uncertain terms. As you peruse that chapter, you find Him saying the following about them:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Was Jesus over the top when He referred to them as hypocrites? Notice that He even said they were not entering into heaven. Was that an unjust judgment?

Further down in the chapter, He calls them “a child of hell,” “blind guides,” “blind fools,” and “a brood of vipers.”

My particular favorite is his characterization of them as “whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” They appear to be righteous but are really “full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

I gather from Jesus’s own example that we don’t have to pull our punches when pointing out sin. But here’s the catch: we can’t be hypocrites when we do so and we have to honestly seek to redeem those who are erring (check out chapter 7 of Matthew on proper judging). If we ever take satisfaction in merely telling people off and get a smug attitude about being right, then we’ve violated the spirit in which we are allowed to point out sin.

We all need to be willing to be truth-tellers, yet, at the same time, we must continually guard our hearts so that we carry it out in the proper spirit.

Each person is responsible for his/her own actions, whether in carrying out an evil deed or in using extreme language that might influence a person toward that deed.

Will We Learn From History?

As a historian, I have this faith that people might actually learn something from history. What a quaint notion.

The first requisite, of course, is that people know some history. Those kinds of people are becoming a rare commodity.

Please excuse the seeming air of resignation in this post. It’s just that some lessons from history are so easy to find that it boggles the mind that mankind continues to repeat all the old errors.

Take socialism/communism, for instance. It’s never worked anywhere, yet it continues to beguile and beckon with its siren song of equality, fairness, and brotherhood.

You know, like in the Soviet Union where, under Stalin, everyone was so friendly.

It was such a wonderful success that they continued to promote those Five-Year Plans for 70 years. Don’t ask if they ever worked. Well, you could ask all those nations that adopted socialist economies; I’m sure they have a story to tell. Come along with me to one such country.

Britain went all agog for socialism after WWII. Rationing continued for years after the war, ensuring “equality.” Here’s how Winston Churchill described what he witnessed:

Yet the current generation is being wooed once again by this false philosophy. Take Bernie Sanders and his minions, openly advocating the policy. In fact, most Democrats are on this bandwagon; they just are more discreet by not calling it what it is. They couch it in the language of “caring.” And voters lap it up because they are rather ignorant:

Someone needs to write this book:

But would anyone read it who actually needs to read it?

G. K. Chesterton nailed it:

Forgive my cynicism today. If not for my steadfast faith that this world ultimately is not my home, cynicism would prevail. However, I can see past the blindness; I know where Truth resides. I want to live in that Truth today and continue to do what God has called me to do. I will be faithful and leave results up to Him.

Giving Bernie His Due

I feel bad for focusing so much on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I’ve given short shrift to the other candidate still in the race—Bernie Sanders. Since today’s primaries may be Sanders’s last hurrah, I’m now going to make up for this oversight.

Bernie’s candidacy is historic. It reminds me of a particular historical era that I lived through long ago (unfortunately, though, it wasn’t in a galaxy far, far away):

Take Party Back

Never have we had a candidate who is so proudly and vocally associated with the failed philosophy of the twentieth century as Bernie Sanders:

Comrade

I’ll give Sanders credit for not hiding what he really is, unlike the current occupant of the White House and his Democrat opponent in the primaries. He is fiercely loyal to a system that has never worked, and he has energized a significant portion of the Democrat base to follow him, zombie-like, into the failed economies of the past. Well, not all are in the past; we have a wonderful example today of what Sanders’s policies would do for us. And if his supporters are genuine, they should want to live in such a place:

Moving to Venezuela

Sanders rails against the evils of capitalism and extols the wonders of such socialist havens as Venezuela, where people are rioting over not having food and other necessities. If we put Sanders in charge, he will make sure those evil capitalists will be held in check:

Not Right

Of course, if we really desire Bernie’s outcomes for our society, there is another way to get them:

Sanders-Meteor

What is it that attracts people to his philosophy? Ignorance? Greed? Loss of historical perspective? Downright stupidity? I think we might be able to check all of those boxes, but resentment over what others have and the desire to take it from them is probably at the top of the list.

Against Greed

This basic selfish instinct is captured perfectly in this classic Calvin and Hobbes cartoon:

Bigger Piece

Once Sanders officially loses the Democrat nomination, he can continue to stay in the news cycle if he decides to run as an independent. That would cause quite a commotion in the Democrat ranks, the equivalent of the angst currently being experienced by Republicans.

Run, Bernie, run?

My doctoral dissertation was on Noah Webster, widely considered America’s first schoolmaster. His Speller taught generations how to read; his 1828 Dictionary was unique, not only in its being the first produced by an American, but in its Biblical basis. Webster’s illustrations for words included Biblical citations and short homilies on the significance of some key words. His influence in early America was great.

Noah Webster Books

I’m highlighting him today because he offered insight to his generation when it came to choosing political leaders. His words are timeless; they apply to our current situation.

“In selecting men for office,” Webster urged, “let principles be your guide. . . . Look to his character as a man of known principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office.”

To ignore lack of principle and integrity in a candidate is to violate the sacred trust given to us as citizens:

When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.

Webster continued: “If rulers are bad men, it is generally the fault of the people.” After all, who puts men of depraved character in office? We can too often be deceived by them, he notes, but often we vote them in simply because they belong to “our” party. Here’s how he framed it:

Noah WebsterThey choose men, not because they are just men, men of religion and integrity, but solely for the sake of supporting a party [emphasis mine]. This is a fruitful source of public evils.

But as surely as there is a God in heaven, who exercises a moral government over the affairs of this world, so certainly will the neglect of the divine command, in the choice of rulers, be followed by bad laws and as bad administration.

I trust you know why I chose to emphasize that one phrase in the quote above.

By 1837, Webster was becoming distraught by what he was seeing in the culture and politics of his nation. He wrote to a friend,

Principles, sir, are becoming corrupt, deeply corrupt; & unless the progress of corruption, & perversion of truth can be arrested, neither liberty nor property will long be secure in this country.

And a great evil is, that men of the first distinction seem, to a great extent, to be ignorant of the real, original causes of our public distresses. Many of our greatest men are making vigorous efforts to remove present evils, but not an effort is made to correct the radical cause of our political calamities.

Webster’s concern in 1837 should be our concern today. Our principles have been corrupted; integrity is discounted; truth is being perverted. Yet we don’t address those fundamental issues. Instead, we rally to someone who either promises free stuff or who pledges to build a wall.

Webster’s prescription for the ills in our society is a return to Biblical principles and integrity of character. I agree with that prescription. That’s why I will never vote for anyone who lacks the very rudiments of those qualities. That’s why I will not vote for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump.

WebsterNoah Webster was a man of his time, but the ideas he fostered are based on the Book that applies to all men at all times. If you wish to know more about Webster, his views, and his influence during his lifetime, my book, Defining Noah Webster: A Spiritual Biography, is available. You can find it on Amazon right here.

We are faced with virtually no good choice in this coming presidential election, so let’s keep in mind that government is not our savior. There is only one Savior. Our responsibility is to be faithful to Him and maintain our integrity. Stand for righteousness, then stand back and see what God will do.

Our Developing Culture

Surely you have noticed how we are living in an upside-down world lately. Today, I thought I would simply offer some wonderful examples of how our culture has been developing.

Since we have a reality TV person now as the Republican candidate for president, I thought this might be fitting for some of his supporters:

Gov't Funding

That speaks to the reality of “reality” programs as well as the idea that government has some kind of stockpile of funds to pay for virtually anything and everything.

Which leads me to this:

Popular with Kids

And speaking of liberals:

Liberals Who Believe

Here’s the solution for liberal thinking on the gender front:

Bathroom Problem Solved

There’s no way I can leave out my own profession in this litany of what’s gone wrong in America:

Director of Admissions

When College Is Free

Well worth pondering today.

How Fantasy Worlds Work

Some politicians seem to live in a fantasy world. Well, maybe that could apply to half of the general population as well, so let me backtrack just a little. Hillary Clinton seems to live in a fantasy world.

Hillary thought she would receive a coronation back in 2008 because she was married to Bill. Didn’t happen. No problem, she surmised—2016 is the big year for the coronation. Yes, it was supposed to be that way, but her fantasy world got in the way.

First, there was her arrogance in thinking the law doesn’t apply to her. The FBI begs to differ.

Security Inquiry

Called Indictment

Until there is an indictment, Hillary can continue to live in her fantasy of having done nothing wrong. The only thing that might preclude the indictment, of course, is that Obama is still president and his Lack of Justice Department will make the decision whether to go forward with it.

She also didn’t believe anyone would offer a credible challenge within her party to the nomination she felt she deserved. While I hate to think of Bernie Sanders as a credible challenge, there apparently are enough Democrats living in their own fantasy world that he has not yet been put away completely, thereby causing Hillary added stress:

In My Seat

To me, one proud socialist and one disguised socialist aren’t all that much different. And yes, Sanders won’t be able to stop Hillary from sealing the deal eventually, but it would be fun to watch a Democrat convention displaying all the rancor and hatred that a liberal/progressive ideology inspires.

Hillary thinks she has an ace in the political deck—Bill, who, for some reason in this fantasy world, seems to have some degree of acceptance in the population. He does, at least, with those who have short memories. The rest of us, though, will never forget:

Two for One

From everything I’ve said so far, you might be tempted to think I consider Trump a better choice. If so, you are new to this blog.

Double Negative

Just when we need a strong, moral, constitutional candidate who has the convictions to turn this nation around, this is what we get instead:

Not Working

My point today is not to lead you into despair, although I recognize the possibility. Rather, I hope this stunning scenario will ensure you don’t choose a fantasy world. It’s time to get serious about our future.

A Crisis of Unfathomable Proportions

These Democrat primaries have been quite interesting if, that is, you find a race between one candidate who may be prosecuted and another who promotes a philosophy that has ruined every nation that has tried it to be an interesting race.

Hillary just barely beat Sanders in Kentucky last night, with both getting 46% of the vote; meanwhile, Sanders continued to act as a spoiler to the coronation by beating her in Oregon. The only reason Hillary is going to be the nominee is that she has this huge stockpile of “Superdelegates” who will get her to the finish line:

Finish Line

When she achieves this “victory,” she will act as if it is the voice of the people in her party, but she truly is one of the weakest candidates for president imaginable. Why the surge for Sanders? First, Democrat voters seem to like undiluted socialism, which means they have no sense of history, economics, or how life in general actually works.

Second, the cloud over Hillary is substantial, and Democrats are unsure they want to promote someone who may be on trial. Of course, her campaign is dismissing the seriousness of this FBI investigation, even to the point of saying it’s not an investigation at all.

Forbidden Words

With Trump and Hillary as the two probable nominees, this might make for unusual polling this year:

Hold Their Noses

I won’t have the problem because I will be voting for neither. My reasons for that have been spelled out in previous posts, so I won’t go into them here. But one political cartoon does come close to how I see our current political crisis:

Lemmings

The bigger problem, of course, is that this is not just a political crisis, as if it exists in one little corner of the nation and doesn’t affect everything else. Sadly, it does affect everything else, which makes it a crisis of unfathomable proportions.