Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Your Blue Jay   Leave a comment


Image provided by attheedgeofthewood.com

Image provided by attheedgeofthewood.com

This morning I was watching for a brief period of time an encounter between a blue jay and a squirrel in the tree outside my office.  I have learned that blue jays are quite an aggressive bird.  They seem to be the bullies in the bird world.  So while they have beautiful color on the outside, they do not have the same kind of beauty on the inside.  As I watched this encounter between the squirrel and the blue jay, I heard both of them making quite a lot of noise.  It was clear that they were not easily going to coexist in the tree.  Both of them seemed ready to take the other on and movement closer together occurred in intervals.  Eventually, the blue jay must have decided that taking on the squirrel in a physical way was not the wisest move so the bird flew out of the tree and to the ground below.  The squirrel moved down the branches so that it could continue to posture and yell at the blue jay.  This round was clearly won by the squirrel.

After watching this encounter, it made me ponder what I mentioned earlier – blue jays are the bullies of the bird world.  I thought about the bullies who I have encountered in my life.  I am pretty sure that all of us have had bullies in our lives.  These are the people who tend to make a lot of noise and can say and do some pretty damaging things to other people.  Some of them our outwardly aggressive.  Others use passive aggressive techniques.  Whatever their mode of operation, the goal of intimidation to achieve their desires is always the driving force behind their words and actions.

How do you handle the bullies in your life?  I have come to find that as difficult as it may be at times, the best approach is to call them out.  When I identify their bullying behaviors, I can then confront them.  There is nothing easy about dealing with bullies.  However, if bullies are left alone and allowed to continue their behaviors, they will leave a wake of disaster in their path.  Lives can be damaged or destroyed in the process.

We hear a lot about bullying going on in schools.  I would argue that this type of behavior extends far into adulthood.  You can find bullies in work places, organizations, churches, and community settings.  It is time that we all work to confront and put an end to these behaviors.  It is time that we deal with the bullies, just as the squirrel dealt with the blue jay I saw this morning.

So who is your blue jay?  What are you doing about it?

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Not Perfect   Leave a comment


I had the privilege of spending some time in Washington, D.C. this week.  During some free time, I explored some of the monuments and museums, some which I have been to many times.  I thought about some of the people these monuments honored.  I thought about some of the amazing pieces of the history of humanity and nature that were represented in the museums.  I thought about the government of my nation.  One of the thoughts which recurred to me many times was none of these are perfect.  The greatest leaders, which the monuments are tributes to, were not perfect.  The men and women who are remembered for their bravery and their sacrifices in battles were not perfect.  The government of our nation is not perfect.  The very monuments themselves are not perfect.  Yet, they all have a lasting impact on our nation, our world, and myself as I stand and reflect in their shadows.

This has led me to realize something which is very important about myself, and I would dare to say about each of you who read this…. I am not perfect.  However, my imperfections do not limit my ability to have a positive and lasting impact upon others.  Much like the women and men who are acknowledged and honored throughout our nation’s capital, in spite of my imperfections, I can contribute in meaningful ways to the lives of others, my community, and my nation.  As a believer in the Lord, I can acknowledge my imperfections with confidence that in my weaknesses and failures, the Lord can still use me and can bring forth good.

So my challenge to each of you today is to not allow your imperfections to limit your contributions.  Give the best of what you have in your service to others.  Let the Lord overcoming your imperfections with the Lord’s perfection.  Contribute and do not sit idle.  While you or I may never have a memorial erected in our honor, none of the men and women with monuments ever expected such an honor.  They just did what they could to contribute to the world around them for the benefit of the world.

A Time for Visionaries   Leave a comment


Foresight

Foresight (Photo credit: inf3ktion)

I had a conversation last night with a colleague.  During this conversation we were discussing the gifts that each person brings to a situation.  An observation that my colleague made is that we are in need of more visionaries.  I couldn’t agree with her more.  I think that in many facets of life, we are lacking visionaries.  Whether it be in the political realm or the realm of business or the settings of non-profits, there have not been many visionaries in the recent years.  But I believe there is move towards changing this.

Leading to this change is a growing awareness of the need for visionaries.  Most people would agree that we have become mired in the status quo.  Over the last forty years there have been some significant breakthroughs in small pockets of our society.  One example is the advancement of Microsoft and Apple.  There have been medical breakthroughs which have occurred such as much less evasive forms of treatment.  However, overall, in the areas of leadership, we have not had many visionary leaders.  The only one that I can recall is President Ronald Reagan who had a vision of a different type of United States and was able to convince others to join the movement in that direction.  With that exception, most leaders have not been visionaries but more administrators.

Anyone that looks around today realizes that things are not going in the right direction.  Again, there are small pockets of success and movement but overall we have become rather stagnant in many ways.  I believe this is the result of not having leaders who are able to look at the “big picture” and plan for something different.  Instead of having visionaries we have administrators who tweak little parts here and there in an attempt to improve situations but generally maintain what is in place.  Visionaries are ready to put a whole new reality forth after taking time to determine what a new future may look like.

The encouraging news is that I am hearing more visionary voices begin to speak out.  I see small groups of individuals that understand the need for visionaries.  I hear conversations regarding these new voices and a willingness to follow some of these visionaries.  I believe that more people need to start listening to and supporting these women and men who are casting visions and speaking of new possibilities.  I believe that we need to find ways to identify and place in leadership those who see the big picture and are able to cast a vision.

I strongly feel that now is a time in which we need visionaries!

What Is Freedom   Leave a comment


 

The Declaration of Independence of the United ...

The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, July 4, 1776, circa 1873. Currently on display in the White House Cabinet Room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, we as a nation once again celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence which started our nation on a road to independence.  Some refer to this day as Independence Day and others as the 4th of July.  Both are accurate references.  Whatever a person in the United States refers to the day as, the reason for the celebration is to remember that the document dated on that day in 1776 was a document to declare freedom for all people.

 

 

After spending yesterday (and actually the evening before), listening to great music, watching parades, eating way too much food, and watching fireworks, I have been reflecting a bit on the concept of freedom.  Freedom comes in many different ways and forms.  The Declaration of Independence described freedom in its preamble with these famous words:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  As I consider those famous words, I am drawn to share a few thoughts.

 

 

First, is the concept of the truths which are stated here as being self-evident.  The author of this document indicates that we are all born knowing that these truths exist.  This knowledge is re-enforced through our observations and experiences in life.  Yet, if this is accurate, we also know that humans have time and time again disputed through words and behaviors what is declared here as truth.

 

 

Next, I focus on the phrase, “all men are created equal,” remember that the word “men” was a universal term for humanity during the period of time in which these words were recorded.  What does it mean that all humans are created equal?  I do not believe that it means we are all the same with all the same gifts or abilities. (See a previous post.)  But instead I believe that this phrase was intended to mean that we all were created in a manner and with the gifts and abilities that would allow us to live a full and rewarding life.  That no one has the authority to suppress or deny the rights which will be discussed later.

 

 

I find it interesting that in this document there is acknowledgement of a “Creator.”  This word is not defined in this document and there are many varied views on what was intended here, however, it does make an acknowledgement that there is a higher power that has created humanity.  In reading many of the biographies of many of the men who influenced, and later signed, this document, I know that a vast majority of them viewed themselves as Christians.  The influence of their Christian faith varied upon each man but it clearly influenced the writings of these men.  As a Christian, I naturally concur with the concept of a Creator who endows rights to every human.  As a believer, I also would give the name God to this Creator.

 

 

The next phrase that draws my attention is “unalienable rights.”  According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the word unalienable means:  ” incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred.”  This means that they are a part of the individual which cannot be removed from the individual in any fashion.  We are born with these.  So the author was communicating that the rights which he will soon give examples of, are a part of the person that have existed within the person since birth and cannot be removed.

 

 

The examples of these rights are then given.  They include, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  I think it is important to note that the author does not indicate this list to be exhaustive.  However, it is clear that the author believes these rights to be the most important.  These rights are the ones that so many try to suppress and the same rights that so many have fought and died to preserve for others.  It is important to note that the definition of these rights is not given here.  Yet, since the author has already acknowledged that these are rights which are a part of each individual, it seems clear to me that these rights are to be defined by the individuals.

 

 

I think that there are fears that accompany the thought that the definition of individuals providing the definitions to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  One fear is that unless there is a universally accepted (which means a group will create and enforce) the definitions, there will be chaos.  I do not totally agree with this fear based on the concepts discussed earlier.  If I accept that all are created with the rights which are being defined, and if I believe these rights are not separable from the individual, then I must not only seek them for myself but also refrain from doing anything that would try to deny these rights to others.  This refraining would be included in my pursuit of these rights for myself.  In other words, my definition of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness cannot include the denial of any of these rights for another person.  It is a check and balance type of approach.  The Apostle Paul states it this way when he is talking about the freedom given to us in Christ, ““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.  No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, NIV)

 

 

So as I reflect on the celebration of yesterday and am very grateful for the freedom I experience which was established in the Declaration of Independence, I am mindful of what the author intended.  I am also mindful that my freedom is never to lived out through the denial of someone else’s freedom.  I am grateful for the generations of men and women who have fought physical and ideological battles to secure that freedom for myself and others.  I am also mindful of my duty to continue to speak out against anyone who denies either institutionally, socially, or through legal means, the “inalienable rights” of all humans which include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

 

 

 

Election Day   2 comments


voting day in a small town

voting day in a small town (Photo credit: Muffet)

Today is the day that millions of United States citizens vote for their national, state, and local leaders.  For many of us, we are just glad that this will mean an end to all the political ads on the television and the political calls on our phones.  But I think it is important to take a moment and realize the magnitude of the power in casting our vote.  We are fortunate to be in a nation where it is the people who choose the leadership.  The leadership is not imposed upon us from another power or authority.  We have the power and authority.  So the question all of us are required to ask  of ourselves is What do I seek in a leader?

This can be a very difficult question to be answered.  A lot depends upon the circumstances of our lives at the specific time.  Each candidate for the various offices bring her/his own qualities to the office.  Every one of them is gifted in unique and significant ways.  Each truly has a love for their nation and a sense of duty to serve others.  Each has their weaknesses and their dark secrets.  The reason for this is that they are each humans and carry positive and negative traits like every human in existence.  So it comes down to looking at what each person has to offer and the fundamentals behind the decisions they make or may make.  After an examination of the unique gifts and the philosophies of a person, we must then look at the needs of the time and where there are the best matches.  This acknowledges that one person’s gifts and philosophies may be a right match for today’s circumstances but that person may be exactly the right match at another time.  It also acknowledges that those who were elected with their unique gifts and philosophies previously may not the right match for today.  Each voter must decide these items for themselves.

No matter what process that you use to determine which candidate you will cast your vote for, there are few very important things to remember this day.

  1. VOTE – It is not just a right of every United States citizen to vote, it is a sacred responsibility.  The foundation of our form of government is that the people choose the leadership of their governments.  When you choose not to vote, you crumble part of the foundation of our nation.
  2. YOU MAKE THE DECISION – We cast our votes in secrecy.  This is intended to prevent any manipulation on the part of another regarding the choices that each citizen makes.  You listen to all sides of the arguments and do your research into the unique gifts and philosophies of the candidates and then you make your choice.  This choice should never in any way be removed from any citizen.
  3. VOTE – I cannot stress this enough.  I live by the philosophy that if I vote then I have a right to criticize the leadership.  If I do not vote than the criticisms should remain silent.

So I hope that each of you will vote today if you have not already.  Be proud to cast your vote for the candidates and regarding the issues of our day.  Be proud that you live in a nation that this is not only a wonderful right but a sacred responsibility.  Be proud of the men and women who have fought so hard to make your vote a possibility.  Be proud of the women and men who have defended that right, even at the cost of their lives.

VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!

A Debt of Gratitude   Leave a comment


This week I spent the last five days in Washington, DC.  I went there to participate in a leadership conference.  The conference was great and I had the privilege of listening to some wonderful speakers and hearing ideas regarding leadership in today’s climate.  In addition, to the conference, I took opportunities during any free time that I had to explore our nation’s capital.  This is the third time in my life that I have been in DC and each time I find myself extremely humbled and moved.

As I walked along the National Mall and visited a few places off of the Mall, I was reminded how fortunate I am to live in the nation in which I live.  I am moved with a sense of gratitude that I owe to the men and women who have shaped our nation.  I am moved with a sense of gratitude that I owe the women and men who have defended and preserved this great nation.  When a person walks among the monuments to some of these individuals it is difficult to not be moved to tears.  When I stand and face the Capitol or Supreme Court or White House, I stand in awe of what work is done in each of these locations and what each of these locations represent.

During this election season, it is very easy for me to get tired of all the political ads and phone calls.  I easily can get frustrated with our election process and the way that campaigns seem to manipulate facts and ideas to shine a negative light upon their opponent and show their candidates as being above all reproach.  I can question if there is any value in my single vote.  But a trip to our nation’s capital places all of this in a different light.  My vote is not just a right and privilege, my vote is a responsibility.  I owe it to all the men and women who have over 225+ years worked at creating a government system and defended the principles of such a government.  It is my responsibility to actively participate in the freedom and ideals communicated in the preamble of our nation’s Constitution… “WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES….

So let me say THANK YOU to all those who have:

  • written and spoke about the ideals of freedom and justice for all peoples.
  • labored to establish laws and programs that support those ideals and principles.
  • led and struggled through difficult discussions about moving ideals and principles into practical actions.
  • fought for protection of the rights and privileges of every free person and those yet to be freed.
  • given life and limb to remove any threat to the ideas of freedom for all.
  • heard the call of service to the nation as a soldier and/or leader.

I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America.  I am proud to have spent time once again in the capital of a great nation.  Even though our nation is flawed since it is a human institution, we still have found the best system of government with the best set of principles of governing in the world.

So I will vote again this November because that is what a citizen of the United States has a responsibility to do in order to honor all those who have given so much of their life to make the opportunity available.  Being in Washington, DC this week has reminded me of the great importance of such a civil action.  I am proud to be one of “THE PEOPLE“!

Washington, D.C.

Faces on the wall at the Korean War Memorial.