WITHOUT HONOR THERE CAN BE NO PEACE

preamble to the constitutionThere are two ways of looking at honor with respect to peace.  Pride drives us to say no peace without honor.  In other words, unless our opponent offers conditions that guarantee our self-respect, we won’t quite fighting.  That’s a frivolous way of looking at honor.

The second way of looking at honor with respect to peace has to do with honor as a virtue. How is honor a virtue? Well, there is some ambiguity in that matter.

Dr. Samuel Johnson, in his A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was “nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness.” This sort of honour derives from the perceived virtuous conduct and personal integrity of the person endowed with it. On the other hand, Johnson also defined honour in relationship to “reputation” and “fame”; to “privileges of rank or birth”, and as “respect” of the kind which “places an individual socially and determines his right to precedence.” This sort of honour is not so much a function of moral or ethical excellence, as it is a consequence of power. Finally, with respect to sexuality, honour has traditionally been associated with (or identical to) “chastity” or “virginity”, or in case of married men and women, “fidelity”. Some have argued that honour should be seen more as a rhetoric, or set of possible actions, than as a code. (from here)

In our society rank still exists. So people with power, because of their pride, still demand honor. For the most part, however, we expect people to earn honor by gaining a reputation for virtuous conduct and personal integrity. At least, that’s the theory. Nevertheless, we still honor the powerful. Why? Some among us do fear the powerful, but the more serious issue is that we no longer share a common code of honor. Instead of honoring virtuous conduct and integrity, many of us will just as happily honor power, wealth, and fame.

Western Civilization once shared a common ethical system based upon the Bible. Most people of European descent understood the Bible to be literally true, and they believed all of the Bible was the word of God. During the Protestant Reformation, if anything, such sentiments about the Bible grew even stronger.  However, the Protestant Reformation also set in motion an opposite trend. Instead of the Roman Catholic clergy being the sole interpreters of the faith, Protestantism made it possible for anyone to decide for themselves the meaning of Bible. In fact, these days we can decide what the Bible means without having ever read it. Hence, Western Civilization’s shared code of honor (or ethics) is slowly dissolving into gibberish.

Consider an obvious controversy.  The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality as a sin. Nevertheless, many mainstream Christian churches don’t have a problem with same-sex marriage. Is there any practical way to condone homosexuality based upon what the Bible actually says? No, but once we decide feelings matter more than the truth what the Bible actually says does not matter. We can be a Christian and even say the Bible says homosexuality is okay.

How does this sort of integrity relate to peace? Virtuous conduct, especially as it relates to integrity, requires an unwavering respect for the truth. Otherwise, peace is logically impossible because we cannot work out and maintain the compromises that make peace possible.

Consider what a compromise involves. People meet. They discuss their objectives and their differences. Then they reach an agreement that sorts out their objectives and their differences so that each party to the agreement gets most of what wants at the cost of some objectives it cedes to the other parties.

What is the key to a successful compromise? Well, good negotiators help, but the main ingredient is usually honor (that is, a high degree of integrity). Each of the parties to a compromise has to be willing to honor the agreement as written.

The Constitution, for example, is a compromise. Because of the compromises it contains, the Constitution allowed the 13 original colonies, each a small country with its own interests, to come together as a federation.  The Constitution worked because most of the citizens of each of the colonies fully expected their leaders to abide by the document as written.

Unfortunately, the integrity of our people is not exactly what it use to be. Now many of our leaders regard the Constitution as a Living Constitution.

In United States constitutional interpretation, the Living Constitution (or loose constructionism) is the claim that the Constitution has a dynamic meaning or that it has the properties of an animate being in the sense that it changes. The idea is associated with views that contemporaneous society should be taken into account when interpreting key constitutional phrases. (from here)

What is the problem with a Living Constitution? If the compromises in the Constitution are “living compromises”, then what are the compromises? Why would anyone want to be party to a compromise that can be arbitrarily changed by the “other side”? What good does it even do to put agreement on paper if after a period of time the agreement can be arbitrarily changed by unelected judges?

We can discuss how we think the Constitution has changed, but all we can know is what something in the Constitution meant the last time the Supreme Court issued a ruling. Tomorrow? Who knows? Yesterday? Well, it seems history is just so beyond us. Only highfalutin experts can rightfully have an opinion, but consider these examples. Before the Supreme Court’s decisions related Social Security, Obamacare, or to same sex “marriage”, would any of those things have been legal? Were they legal in the several decades before each suddenly became legal? Was the Constitution actually changed to make them legal?

Let me close this post with one last observation. In a very real sense, our Constitution is a peace treaty. Search The Federalist Papers for the word “peace” and you will get 175 hits. Sometimes the writers spoke of the need for a Constitution to maintain peace with other nations. Each colony on its own was too weak to easily defend itself. Often, however, the writers also worried the colonies would fight among themselves, and they were right. Because they could not agree about the issue of slavery, in spite of the Constitution there was war between the states.

What we honor matters.

2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 1

ChristianknightAfter President Barrack Hussein Obama’s second election as our president, I wrote a series that starts here: FINDING PEACE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2012 ELECTION — PART 1. That was a frankly Christian and Conservative perspective on what I considered a devastating defeat, that is, devastating from a human perspective. I was not alone. With others I went through the stages of grief. Then we started planning for the future.

Victory, such as it is, presents similar issues. It seems our Lord has a sense of humor. Four years ago nobody anticipated the election of President Donald J. Trump. We would have found the idea laughable, and most people still don’t know what to make of it.

Just as we are not altogether in our defeats, we are not unified in victory. We are always too busy scratching our heads, wondering. How did the *&%$#@! did that happen? Whether we have victory or defeat, it seems events drive us accept the fact that God is in charge.

So can we do? We can serve as our Lord’s hands and feet. In His Name, we can each can make a personal commitment to change the world for the better. Make of it what you will, but here is mine.

What Is A Commitment?

When we make a commitment, we need to define three things.

  • A Goal. To make a meaningful commitment, we have to commit ourselves to a defined purpose, an achievable goal.
  • A Strategy. To pursue a goal effectively, we must have a strategy. To achieve a goal, we have to enumerate the factors that must come together that make goal fulfillment a possibility.
  • Tactics. Every great undertaking is accomplished through the dedicated efforts of so-called little people. In a war, we call the little people soldiers. In war groups of soldiers work in unison by implementing squad, battalion, divisional,… tactics. In politics, we call the little people citizens. What citizens do to implement the overall strategy and achieve the goal we call political activism.

The Goal

Defining my goal begins with how I identify myself.

  • Why am I a Christian? I believe Jesus is who He said He is. I believe He died for our sins and that He rose from the dead.  I believe Jesus is God. I believe God is three in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that through Jesus God gave us an example. Therefore, I strive to be a worthy disciple of Christ.
  • Why am I a Conservative? I believe God is God. I don’t believe any of us is God. I don’t believe any of us are wise enough or good enough to rule the rest of humanity as an all-powerful monarch.  Jesus will do so, but not one of us. Therefore, instead of trying to run other people’s lives, I work to protect the God-given rights of my family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen.

To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to fulfill The Great Commission Jesus gave us, we need a stable and efficient government.  To protect our God-given rights, including our right to hear and live by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we need a government designed to protect those rights. Therefore, as my goal I seek to protect the constitutional republic given to us by the founders of this nation.

To Be Continued

In Part 2 we will enumerate the factors that must come together that make goal fulfillment a possibility, and we will examine why each of those factors is necessary for the fulfillment of the goal.

SO DONALD TRUMP WON. NOW WHAT?

These paintings by Gerard David (c. 1460 – 13 August 1523) depict the arrest and flaying by a corrupt judge. Cambyses, a Persian King sentence this judge, Sisamnes, for accepting a bribe.  Then he used the skin to cover the seat Sisamnes' son used when he sat as a judge. (from here)
These paintings by Gerard David (c. 1460 – 13 August 1523) depict the arrest and flaying by a corrupt judge. Cambyses, a Persian King sentenced this judge, Sisamnes, for accepting a bribe. Then he used the skin to cover the seat Sisamnes’ son used when he sat as a judge. (from here)

Donald Trump’s election victory has almost everyone amazed.  When I look over the situation, however, I am relieved, but not sanguine.  Republicans don’t do either victory or defeat well, but that’s why WE THE PEOPLE chose Trump. We want a leader with some fight in him, someone on our side.

So what’s the problem? As WE THE PEOPLE, we must remember the objective, a government that protects everyone’s God-given rights. Revenge of the Deplorables, for example, is all true except for one thing. Vengeance belongs to God. Therefore, writing this paragraph was a bad idea.

What comes around, goes around; the revenge of the pissed off deplorable has come to fruition. Life as a liberal in the USA is about to get very unpleasant, and I’m gleefully looking forward to being one of the reasons why. Last Tuesday’s election was only the beginning; we are going to screw them over every chance we get. Can you hear me now? (from here)

Believe me. I think the author of Revenge of the Deplorables writes thoughtful posts. Believe me. I too have an itch to screw the Democrats over. Using “good intentions” as their excuse, Democrats have dreadfully abused the power of government, and their leaders have deliberately sown dissension and division. Nevertheless, I have plenty of brothers and sisters who voted for H. Clinton. So I know from personal experience that Democrat voters are not devils. So I don’t want revenge. I just want them figure out big government creates many more problems than it ever fixes.

When we use government to make our neighbors do things our way or to just make them miserable, we have just created a monster that makes everyone endlessly angry. Civil war is the worst kind of war. Hence, we must look for Biblical guidance. Consider this timely verse posted at Settled In Heaven on the day after the election.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (from here)

As Christians, we are not supposed to let the world trouble us or make us afraid. We must strive for peace by following Jesus Christ.

Jesus told us and demonstrated for us just how dishonest and conniving the world can be. The Bible shows us just how dishonest and conniving we can be. Nonetheless, the Bible predates American politics. So something more specific to our situation might be helpful. Here in Common Sense Rules for Following Elections the author provides a more rational perspective than what most in the news media want us to have.

I know that’s hard to believe sometimes, but the other candidate and the other party aren’t evil because they see things differently than you do. It sounds silly to even say that, doesn’t it? Yet in the heat of a tough campaign, all of us need to remind ourselves of this obvious fact. When the other side wins, it seems like life is about to end, but it isn’t. Those checks and balances that you might like to do away with at the moment, will keep any president from going too far; even Mr. Obama found that out. Remember four years ago when he went around the country telling us he wouldn’t wait for Congress to legislate and promised a slew of Executive Orders instead… until Courts started throwing them out? Well, maybe you’ve forgotten that, but I haven’t; those checks and balances are pretty awesome. (continued here)

Whether we voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we did not vote for a saint or against the devil. We just voted for another human being like ourselves, someone who needs the saving grace of Jesus Christ, particularly if that candidate won.

So what should we hope for? America Trumped–what comes next? reviews the limited powers of our president. Since the national news media and most of the members of Congress — including Republicans — regard Trump as an outsider, they will be looking for opportunities to take him down. Hence, we must not forget we too have a role.

Donald Trump has a mandate from the voters to try to fix what is wrong with the American government, but not many solutions can come out of the White House. The obligation returns to the voters to send honorable men and women into the government, to advise those elected or appointed to government positions, and to honor and respect the government we have created for ourselves. When we are better citizens, then we can produce a better government. Until then, we can only pray for the government that we have made. (from here)

Never stop praying, not even when you “think” we have the government “we” should want.

POST ELECTION PRAYER

vote for americaYesterday I did something new.  I worked as an election officer at one of the polls in Prince William County, VA.

The process went smoothly. We checked in voters with laptops that contained the county’s voter registration information. We just insisted (as state law requires) that each voter provide a legal form of ID.  So most people pulled out their VA driver’s license, and we scanned it with a bar code reader.

Of course there were some problems, and I did not see all of them, but what I did see provides examples.  One lady walked to the polls with her two children, one child in a stroller. Unfortunately, she had left her ID at home. So she had to walk back and get it, and she did. Another gentleman wanted to use a driver’s license from Florida. That was not acceptable, particularly since we could not find him registered under that name.  Of course, we also sent a bunch of people who had come to the wrong precinct to the right precinct.

One adult citizen. One vote. One place near home to cast that vote. Not terribly complicated. In fact, we were fairly happy with the system. Over 50 percent of the voters in our precinct voted that day, but we never had a large back up. The morning was rough, but the system permits absentee voting. Therefore, large numbers of commuters make use of it, and we did not experience a heavy surge in the of people returning home in the evening, just steady traffic throughout the rest of the day. The overall result, adding the large numbers who had voted absentee, was a huge turnout in the 75 percent range.

In Virginia, we use paper ballots.  After each voter established his or her credentials, we gave them a ballot in a “privacy folder”. They then went to one of the tables separated into sections by partitions. Those partitions allowed each voter mark his or her ballot in privacy. Then each voter walked up to a scanner, got behind privacy screens, opened their privacy folder again, took out their ballot and fed it into the scanner. The scanner then flashed up the American flag, indicating the vote had been recorded, and it dropped each ballot into a locked box underneath.  That way, if we needed to do a recount, we had hard evidence to work with.

That’s not a perfect system, but it is a fair and credible system. Still, Virginia went for H. Clinton. Why was obvious. We have lots of workers in the area who are dependent upon government spending. We also have lots of immigrants in the area who don’t as yet appreciate the damage unbridled immigration is doing to the cause of freedom.  No country’s cultural traditions can survive both a public education system that denies the special value of that culture and a huge influx of foreigners who don’t even have to learn the local language. Hence, each year our leaders feel less obliged to pay any attention to our Constitution, and our republic is dying almost without a struggle.

So at the end of a long day, when we shut everything down, I looked at the vote in our precinct with considerable disappointment. H. Clinton won. Since I knew the vote had been as fair as Virginia was ever likely to make it — no thanks to the rascals in the top three state offices — I had to accept it. Thus, I went home feeling a bit disgruntled.

When I got home at about 9:30 PM, I got a surprise. My wife watches French TV (That’s another story.). Well, it seems the French had figured out the election was leaning Donald Trump’s way. That lifted my spirits a little bit, but I was still tired. So I went to bed. When I woke up, I enjoyed hearing the good news.

So does the fact Trump won mean America is going to be Great Again? No. Of course not. Making America great again is going to require much prayer, the providence of God, and lots of hard work from all of us.

Let’s start with some of that tradition we need to save, a prayer. Here is an email I got today from Delegate Bob Marshall.

THE MARSHALL MESSAGEDear Friends,

While the presidential election is over, the fundamental public policy divisions, some of which are ethical and spiritual in nature, still remain.

With God’s help, I believe it is possible to bind the wounds of our divided nation so that we can truly be one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.

The Founders of America, in the Declaration of Independence, placed their trust in Divine Providence for the rectitude of their intentions.

With that in mind, I urge you to read and share this prayer taken from the 1928 Anglican Book of Common Prayer.  And thank God for his mercy.

Sincerely,

Delegate Bob Marshall

For Our Country.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“For Our Country,” Book of Common Prayer, 1928