jasonbwatson

July 10, 2014

Listening to the Other Side

Back in May Janie B. Cheaney wrote a piece for WORLD entitled “The debate is never over.” I was reminded of it yesterday when I wrote about Amanda Marcotte’s rant against those who hold to the position that unborn babies have a right to life. Cheaney began her column by quoting Barack Obama’s assertion that the debate over the Affordable Care Act “is over.” She went on to explain why that assertion was false and also why the tactic of declaring a debate to be over in the midst of that very debate is a tried-and-true, although entirely un-American, strategy.

I am not going to elaborate on Cheaney’s comments about Obamacare; you can find and read her column if you’re interested. But she made a point near the end of her piece that pertains to Obama’s declaration in the ACA, to Marcotte’s declaration on abortion, to many evolutionists’ declarations on creation and to any other debate in which either side tires of the debate and simply decides to say, “It’s over. I win.” Here is what Cheaney writes…

The nation that began with shouting and guns has–with one notable exception–developed a talent for settling disputes without guns, though always with shouting. Violent argument in pursuit of reasonable law is what we’re all about. But as dead set as we are on our own opinions, we must make room for listening and responding to what the other side actually says. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). In this country, debate is seldom over. If and when that day comes, what will really be over is the United States.

Cheaney’s point is that the United States is built around the idea that opinions and beliefs should be freely and passionately argued in the pursuit of law. Those on either side of the political spectrum who would rather just tell the other side to shut up and then declare victory are not only attempting to become philosophical bullies, they are undermining the very essence of what it means to be American. So rarely do we stop to think about what it would be like to be on the other side! Amanda Marcotte would never suggest the debate is over if the law of the land currently prevented abortion. Barack Obama would never have declared the debate to be over if Congress had voted to de-fund Obamacare. Evolutionists would never declare the debate to be over if every school board in the country decided that creation would be taught in the classroom as well as the theory of evolution. That’s the way bullies work, though; as long as they are the biggest, baddest, toughest and meanest it’s their way or the high way. Let someone bigger and badder some along, though, and their position instantly does a one-eighty. So I would ask Mr. Obama, Ms. Marcotte and others to kindly recognize that the debates are not over.

At the same time, though, I would like to ask those of us on the other side of those arguments–myself included–to remember the same thing. We have to be willing to listen to and respect the positions of those who disagree with us if we want them to listen to and respect us. We do not have to agree with them. We do not necessarily even have to be willing to compromise with them. But we do have to be willing to listen and to show respect if we want the same in return. No, we do not have to welcome Ms. Marcotte’s potty-mouthed insults, and certainly we could insist that we will listen only if she is respectful in her speech and tone, but we must all remember that we have to be willing to show respect if we expect to receive it. Mr. Obama and Ms. Marcotte and others may not see it that way but, if anything, that is all the more reason for us to listen and show respect to them. After all, the Golden Rule does not say “do unto others as they do unto you.” No, it says, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Quite a difference, isn’t there?

June 29, 2012

God is in Control

Filed under: Politics/Current Events — jbwatson @ 3:57 pm
Tags: , ,

Just about every news and social media outlet in the country has been crackling since yesterday with the news of the Supreme Court’s decision in the so-called Obamacare case and the House of Representatives’ vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Most pundits–on both sides of the aisle–are saying that yesterday’s SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision is the most important decision since Bush v. Gore in 2000. Others have said that Chief Justice John Roberts has demonstrated his independence and refusal to be swayed by partisan politics. Others have said he abandoned the president who appointed him (George W. Bush), and still others have said he has proven to be the next Robert Jackson, the Attorney General-turned-Supreme Court justice who demonstrated that he was not beholden to any political party in deciding cases. And, of course, still others have asserted that the five justices who decided the majority opinion have destroyed the Constitution. And, perhaps most interestingly in a purely theoretical/academic sense is the fact that the SCOTUS opinion says that mandated health care is permissible as a tax–whereas President Obama has asserted repeatedly that it is not a tax. Interesting…

On the same day that this decision came down the House of Representatives voted to find Attorney General Holder in contempt for the manner in which he has handled congressional investigation into the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” operation. This is the first time in U.S. history that a sitting attorney general has been found in contempt of Congress. Holder, of course, has called the vote politically motivated, though seventeen Democrats voted in favor of the contempt citation (while two Republicans opposed it). Perhaps more troubling, however, is that 100 Democrat members of the House walked out–including all 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus–and refused to vote at all. According to a letter sent by the caucus to colleagues, the Republican leadership in the House failed to provide a legislative purpose for the vote, and therefore, said the caucus members, they “cannot and will not participate in a vote to hold the attorney general in contempt.” There were, by the way, two separate votes, finding the AG Holder in both criminal and civil contempt, by votes of 255-67 and 258-95 respectively. (Purely as a side note, I have to wonder how any member of Congress can believe that a vote to hold the sitting attorney general in contempt has no legislative purpose, yet similar votes for professional athletes who lied or were less than forthcoming in congressional investigations into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports is clearly fine. Just saying….)

Anyway, if you logged in hoping to get my take on either of these matters, I am going to disappoint you, because, one, I try to avoid being overtly partisan/political in this space, and two, I have not yet had time to read or fully digest the ramifications of the SCOTUS decision and I want to avoid making uninformed comments on the decision.

What I do have to say, though, is that regardless of which side of either of these issues you or I may be on, and regardless of what the short or long-term implications of either decision will be, God is in control!

Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (ESV). We may not have a king in the United States, by the hearts of presidents, justices and members of Congress are just as much in God’s control as the hearts of kings. Furthermore, the power that is exercised by those individuals and bodies is granted to them by God–and they cannot do anything that He will not allow. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (KJV). Jesus Himself, when questioned by Pilate, said, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11, ESV).

Nothing that happened yesterday, that happens today, or that will happen tomorrow, catches God by surprise. Man can do nothing that God does not allow. Not necessarily, by the way, that God desires, but that God allows. Politics and public policy are important…but they are not the most important thing, and they will not save anyone. We should be informed and be involved, and most of all we should pray–see I Timothy 2–but regardless of what happens we must not be overwhelmed or defeated, because God is in control, and in Him is our hope!

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