Ethically Rigorous

How we got here, and how we get out of here and to someplace new and better, depends on each person individually.

Imagine the scales of justice, and imagine yourself as a grain of sand. You have exactly two choices. You can place yourself on one side of the scale, let us call it Truth/Good, or you can place yourself on the other side of the scale, Lies/Evil. Every decision you make, regardless of its complexity and trade-offs, ultimately results in you placing yourself on exactly one side of the scales of justice. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Now what has happened here, over a long period of time, was that a great many people began to focus on the complexity and trade-offs of their decisions. Decisions became complicated because the world became complicated, and one thing led to another, and we lost our way. People began to excuse themselves from ending up on the Lies/Evil side of the scales of justice. After all, we each are only one grain of sand. What difference does it make what one person decides? God will forgive you anyway in his mercy, don't you suppose?, because he understands how complicated it has all gotten? I am going to pick on Sarah Palin for illustrative purposes, but this phenomenon is hardly limited to the Religious Right. It also finds expression in the teachings of the Talmud, and in the financial world, and in countless little ways throughout our daily lives. A corner cut here, a little shirking there...

Here it is writ large:
The Republican leadership and John McCain are counting on Palin's grass roots sincerity that most Republican leaders no longer have. Palin is a true believer. And true believers put the mission they sincerely believe in -- that God has "laid on their hearts" -- above mere details such as truth or honesty, let alone honor. They also speak with conviction.

Palin doesn't actually believe the rehearsed smears she's telling about Obama, but she does believe that she is morally right in lying.

If lies will help her win, Palin believes God's will is being done. McCain just wants to win an election. Palin has bigger fish to fry. Her "call" is to restore America to its "Christian heritage." In that sense Palin is the product of my late father Francis Schaeffer, who helped politicize the Evangelicals into the Religious Right through his incendiary books such as A Christian Manifesto (1980) wherein he called for the takeover of America in the name of Christ if, need be, by force if all else failed.
This is Machiavellian thinking -- the ends justifies the means, and it is an evil lie. The ends do NOT justify the means, and truth, honesty and honor are NOT mere details to be brushed aside when it seems convenient. What a travesty these people make of Christianity, and a mockery of God.

How does one possibly reconcile God's will with lying, especially on this scale, to hundreds of millions of Americans? How does one possibly, with a straight face, believe that God would be forced to rely on blatant liars to bring about his will on earth, in contravention of every valuable teaching in scripture, especially the teachings of Jesus Christ? Do we think God does not have better servants to pick from? I assure you he does. They may not be in politics, but that is only because too many people have given themselves far too many excuses to be selfish, and so we get the politicians we deserve, those who reflect our own mockery and rejection of God and his will in our burning desire to affirm our own wills, and to hang our sins and crimes on the necks of our chosen scapegoats.

Each individual person must begin to hold himself or herself to ethically rigorous standards. We must do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, and in spite of possibly negative personal consequences.

Truth is radical right now, but it becomes less so with each passing day. Why is that? It's because more and more people have placed themselves on the right side of the scales of justice, and as that shift takes place, the scales begin to move. And one of these days, one person will be the grain of sand that shifts the scales decisively in our favor. Will it be you?

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


MarcLord said...

Thanks for Psalm 23, and the rest. Whenever I hear "the Lord is my shepherd," my immediate response is "no want shall I know," from a song I learned in church. The song and the scripture are comforts, ones I am not ashamed to need now.

A. Peasant said...

You know it, brother.

legal mumbo jumbo

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