Lessons In Government

64 degrees on a Friday morning is almost perfect. Coffee on the deck, a beautiful sunrise, and golf at 9am. It just doesn’t get any better, especially after a morning of reading, prayer, and reflection.

I have chosen to read one of my old standards again. “Kingdoms in Conflict” is a book written by Chuck Colsen, which was publish in 1987. It deals with power, politics, and the pulpit. Some of the illustrations are dated, but the argument is the same. We the people must pay attention. In my reading this morning Colsen used Dietrich Bonhoeffer to make his point, one that is just as appropriate today as it was 24 years ago.

In 1933, Bonhoeffer gave a speech on a German radio station. The title of the speech was “The Younger Generation’s Changed View of the Concept of Fuhrer.” As Bonhoeffer was preparing for his talk on the radio he had an interchange with a young man. The young man, according to Colsen, stated, “People say that Hitler is just one more politician, but I don’t think so. Somehow, Dr. Bonhoeffer, I feel he is a different kind of man, a man who knows the soul of Germany.” This interchange demonstrates the danger of charismatic leadership. People assign some type of moral importance to the message of the leader, which then allows the leader to do whatever it takes to execute his or her agenda.

Bonhoeffer ended his speech with these words. “For should a leader allow himself to succumb to the wishes of those he leads, who will always seek to turn him into an idol, then the leader will gradually become the image of a misleader. This is the leader who makes an idol of himself and his office, thus mocking God.” This was a prophetic statement concerning Hitler, and a statement that should cause us to pause and think about the importance of being informed, aware, and involved.

According to today’s reports, the approval rating for congress is at an all time low. It would probably be more accurate to say that it is at a continued all time low. I have even thought to myself, I don’t like either candidate so I will not vote. That is not the path one should take.

Martin Neimoller stated, “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

I can hear the comments, “that won’t happen today.” The fact is, it can happen and does happen. The ism, doesn’t matter. Capitalism, Socialism, Nazism, or Communism, all have exploited people in the name of power and wealth. The exploitation comes when people stop paying attention and stop caring.

In this up coming election, we need to pay attention. We need to vote and let our voice be heard. The heterogeneity of this country is what makes it a laboratory for studying Democratic Capitalism. We have the freedom to make choices concerning the way we want to live and earn. Don’t forget what leaders can do when no one pays attention.

And that is my thought for the day!


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