Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Which I Eat a Mixture of Crow and My Own Words...To a Point

Recently a friend delivered a rebuke to me regarding my recent postings and their apparent discord. In my last two postings, I pretty much stated that President Obama benefits from a cult of personality, and then I said that I don't terribly appreciate the messages sent by several people (mostly the MSM) who said that we should all be not only happy about Obama's inauguration, but that there was basically no room for dissent. Like I said, President Bush had people protesting on his very first day. Whether that was a reaction to the lousy treatment some Republicans gave President Clinton or a boiling over of feelings about perceived injustices in the Florida debacle (and like my friend, I would prefer not to revisit that), it was nothing less than tacky.

So let's return to my friend's assertion. Is there a conflict in decrying boorish behavior from one side while pointing out what I believe to be a rather superficial reason why the leader of the other side inspires such loyalty? Perhaps, if my own behavior in doing so may be found to be boorish in and of itself, which makes the $64 question whether I was.

To be sure, many people were inspired by the optimism Barack Obama presented. I myself remarked on another forum in 2004 that Obama was like Bobby Kennedy in terms of his hopefulness. However, there are many people who never looked beyond his personality, or who went for Obama simply because Bush was blamed for everything that happened in the past eight years, deserved or not. It's those people to whom I referred with the video. These are people like Demi Moore, who said in this video, “I pledge to be a servant to our president and all mankind.” This type of sentiment was never directed toward President Bush, and to me it seems a little creepy. This movement appears to include a lot of people who posted on this site and told "the world" that those of us who thought Bush was a better president than Kerry would have been were, among other things, "witless", "bastards", "idiots", "blind", and much, much worse, and then tries to foment unity with those same people they slammed four years earlier. They came across as a movement which can't think for itself. Again, I don't refer to all Obama supporters in this manner, but a lot of them qualify. And yes, it ticks me off.

But was my referring to that movement as a cult of personality boorish and/or rude nonetheless? It probably was. Is it my place to repay rudeness in kind? I would hope not, but I did. The person I respect most once said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." I definitely did not do that. Regardless of how I feel about it, it was not good form. So to my friend I say: do please accept my apologies for pretty much acting like a jerk. And call me on it again if it recurs. (And in addition, I will also acknowledge that a fair share of Sarah Palin's supporters belong to a similar cult of personality. In both cases, the actual policies of the cult's subject need to be examined; otherwise, you might be following the wrong person...)

With that said, what, then, should be the best way for me to act toward an administration with which I don't agree? Andy Levy has a pretty good list of how NOT to behave. The last item, I think, applies here:

DON’T use the fact that many on the left behaved abominably for the past eight years as an excuse to behave the same way. America needs adults. And if it bothered you when they did it, it’s a good sign that you shouldn’t do it.

Good grief, even I had a fairly good list of how to act in the current political climate. It's a pity I didn't follow my own advice.

And, as my list says, I do believe that policies and programs may be opposed, but Obama is my president. Romans 13:1-7 says "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." Does it mean I fall into lockstep with him? Of course not. But it does mean he deserves the honor of the office, whether or not somebody else (or, say, a whole group of somebodies) refused to give Bush similar treatment.

To expand on this: "submit" is not the same as "obey". Not all leaders deserve to be obeyed, certainly. (Robert Mugabe, for instance.) A rethinking of the Christian response to civil government may be found here. It's worth pondering.

In the meantime, it is time that I started doing a bit more measuring of my own words. And it is time to be more responsible--not because of Obama, because God expects it of me.

(All biblical quotations are taken from the NIV. All copyrights acknowledged.)


Anonymous said...

Thank you. It will be interesting to see if President Obama demands allegiance from those around him as some prior to him have done.