September 14, 2001 – Three days after terrorists hijacked two commercial airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center Towers, felling them and killing nearly 3,000 people, the President of the United States made a visit to “Ground Zero.” He took a bullhorn in his hands and, as workers chanted, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” said, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the rest of the world will soon know what we’re really made of. In the face of this tragedy, there is an almost unimaginable desire for revenge. However, our founding principles cannot allow it.” Continue reading “What Might Have Been”
I’ve always loved the words to this song, but mostly the verses we don’t seem to sing, or take to heart. They are hopeful verses, filled with introspection and personal responsibility:
|O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
God shed His grace on thee,
And crowns thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
This song contains in it a recognition that America has, and will always have, flaws. Once we see ourselves as alway right, just because we are America, we will fall victim to that pride that destroys all people. However, if we look to God’s ways to mend our flaws, if we confirm our souls in self control, America will be beautiful again.
Additionally, we must be noble in our successes and divine in our gains. This country was established upon principles of self-government and faith; freedom and hope; equality and merit. Until we return to these eternal principles, all efforts will fail. Let us make America beautiful again, from the inside out.
I read The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer a few months ago. But until a 10-day work trip to Africa and the Middle East, I didn’t have time to write down all the passages I had underlined. They are many. I had a hard time delineating his ideas into categories because they are so (not to be cliché) transcendent.
This book and the ideas of this man have greatly changed my personal point of view. He was a significant force in the thinking of the 20th Century. But, like Christ and many other great teachers, many of his ideas are ignored or ridiculed simply because they are too darn hard for us “modern” people to implement. We justify this to ourselves by calling them quaint and outdated, but really we’re just too lazy to act on them.
Below are some of my favorite quotes (believe me; I could have made it longer). Continue reading “Book Review: The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer”
In a book I recently read (that I wish I had read 20 years ago), A Thomas Jefferson Education, the author speaks of national books. “A national book is something that almost everyone in the nation [note the use of “nation” rather than “country”] accepts as a central truth.” Each nation has its own books, although in some cultures the national “books” are (or were in the past) oral traditions. These books have much to do with the establishment of a national identity and culture. They can be good (War and Peace) or bad (Mein Kampf), religious (Bhagavad Gita) or secular (Shakespeare).
The book cites Allan Bloom’s assertion that America’s national books through its first 150 years were the “Declaration of Independence” and the Bible. But somehow in the 1950s and 60s familiarity with these national books dropped off dramatically. The problem this causes is immense—we no longer have these essential works as the foundation of our culture. This begs the question: What has replaced them? Continue reading “Our National Books”
I know this is an incredibly easy target, but I’m going to take a shot. With the recent publicizing of the CIA and White House memos regarding torture, part of the conversation has been whether torture works or doesn’t. Another aspect of the question has been whether it was legal or not. These shouldn’t even be the questions we ask about torture.