A Needed Worldview

My wife and I are on vacation. We are traveling to Jackson Hole, Wyoming via Moscow, Idaho, Missoula, Montana, and maybe Bozeman. We have a day to get from Missoula to Jackson Hole, it may warrant a trip to Bozeman, we’ll see.

While we are staying in Moscow we are visiting my wife’s mother. It has been a nice couple of days, and tomorrow we leave for Montana. Today we attended Church, and Pastor Sue gave a very nice sermon on David and Goliath. When Pastor Sue mentioned David’s stones both my wife and I thought about our trip to Israel and when we stood in the very spot the David slew Goliath.

However, the part of the sermon that stood out to me was the ceremony at 10 am when the Church range its bell once in remembrance of the tragedy in Charleston, and then nine more times for the victims. It was solemn yet poignant to recognize how the Church universal was hurting along with its brothers and sisters. I was moved, especially when Pastor Sue discussed how the hatred of the young man who did the shooting was responded to with love and forgiveness.

I have read many different comments from many different people about this situation, some are hateful and some confused, but the fact is evil was confronted by good and good won. I say that good one, because the people of the AME Church, and the Church universal, have responded to this with prayer, humility, and forgiveness. I think we may have forgotten this as we deal with the social issues of our country.

When I started this blog entry, I was going to write about how social entrepreneurs could help find creative solutions to these issues of hate through their drive, eye for details, and connections, but as I thought about it, it seemed hollow. However, I think talking about a greater why behind life would be appropriate.

Richard Goosen and Paul Steven state in their wonderful book, Entrepreneurial Leadership (which I will be using in my leadership class in the Fall) states that “Christians are prone to reflect culture rather than lead it.” That seems quite sad to me. To me this means we are being influenced by society, instead of influencing it. If I want to produce Social Entrepreneurs who are impacting the world then I need to demonstrate how one is not influenced but is influencing.

I have heard many people state they don’t like the word “worldview.” They think it is colonial pushing people to believe a certain way. But I think it is a term that is critical for this day and age. If a worldview is “the sum total of our beliefs,” and I claim to be a believer, then my lifestyle and actions should be different. James Sire states, “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart.” Thus, the people of the AME Church in Charleston can forgive extreme evil because of the commitment their God has to them, and the commitment they have to their God. That is what worldview is all about.

If I am a Christian who claims to be an entrepreneur, the “why” of what I do needs to be different. James Sire says a worldview tells us what is real, what it means to be a human being, and how ultimately how I should live.

As a result, this is the lesson I am taking away from the horrible event at the AME church. God is real, and in the face of evil expressed in a fallen world, I choose to love. I choose to be productive and to live. I choose to seek the real God in my life and to live for Him. I choose to use my gifts and talents for the betterment of humanity. I know humanity is fallen, but I also know this gives me an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God in a partnership with Him.

My role as an entrepreneur is to do the best I can to creatively meet whatever need I am attempting to meet. And I am to do this, not with my eyes on great wealth, but on the transcendent norms that I have been taught by God. Also, I will do this not by my own strength, by the power that God’s Spirit gives me.

I am sure there is much bitterness in the Charleston community over this act of terror, but those directly affected by the attack have chosen to do what God has called them to do, which is to be a light in a world of darkness. May we all learn this lesson!
And that is my thought for the day!

America’s Choice

One of my favorite editorialists is Peggy Noonan. She is on the conservative side, but she is compassionate and practical. She reminds me a little of me, a little on the conservative side, but practical while recognizing that many of the answers to our social ills can be found in the middle of the social continuum.

Today’s column discusses a book written by Ian Bremmer. He is a political scientist and writer for Time magazine. I use one of his articles for a Finance class I teach which is what drew me to this column. The title of the column is “Choosing a Path in the World Ahead.” It discussed three possible futures for America. I found this fascinating and I will buy Bremmer’s book.

Bremmer makes some very interesting points. “America will remain the world’s only super power for the foreseeable future.” Ok, I find that interesting, but what about China? I agree that Russia is not as strong as it once was, but China has definitely emerged from the shadows. “The world is in flux, its tectonic plates are shifting: old settlements and dispensations are falling away, new ones are having rough births.” I agree, and I think some would see America as an aging dispensation.

Bremmer believes that America is standing at a fork in the road where it needs to choose one path from three possible alternatives. “The worst choice now, is to refuse to choose.” I think I would agree with him on this one. It seems that we are currently meandering due to a broken political system, resulting in some sort of improvisation. And I don’t think is a positive action, such as what my colleague Dr. Dennis Plies discusses is his book; but a dangerous activity “confusing to our allies, our rivals and ourselves.”

What, according to Bremmer, are our choices? The first option is “Independent America.” This involves a process of divorcing ourselves from the world’s problems, and focus internally on our issues. We focus our efforts on the huge social issues of education, poverty, “finally realizing our huge potential.”

This particular option is nothing more than isolationism, which seems to be almost impossible with our integrated world economy. However, having grown up in the sixties where we protested against the huge military-industrial complex, we have to ask the question has our National Security Industry become so large that it is devouring scarce resources that could be used in solving our social issues? Also, is this huge industry destroying our fragile reputation throughout the world? “Our actions in the Middle East and South Asia make us more vulnerable at home, by persuading a new generation of Pakistanis, Yemenis, and others that it’s better to attack Americans who aren’t wearing state-of-the-art body amour.” What is that one thing that makes America stand out? I agree with Bremmer when he states, “It is not power that makes America exceptional, it is freedom.”

The second option, is “Moneyball America.” Noonan describes this option as, “The job of U.S. foreign policy is to make the U.S. safer and more prosperous, full stop. Some things must be done in the world, and it’s in America’s interest for Americans to do them.” I do think this option makes huge assumptions that I do not think are realistic, but there are interesting elements. “We are not Hercules, and our resources are finite.” The drain on the American economy has been glaring. However, I am intrigued by the comments “We should lead international efforts against terrorism, join coalitions of the willing, build partnerships – never walk alone – do more with less, keep our eye on the bottom-line.” This option seems practical, especially in an integrated world that is dangerous.

The third option, is what Bremmer calls an “Indispensible America.” This option may be what many of our politicians already see as our current role. “This involves a burly, all-in commitment to international leadership.” I think this option really is based on unrealistic views of our ability, but interesting. Does the world need an America that is promoting American values world-wide? Are we really, “the world’s only indispensible nation?” If this is true then we do need to “think bigger and in more ambitious terms.” I don’t think the world wants another Roman Empire.

As I look at these options, I am torn between two of them. The Nordic countries may have an idea of what an advancing democracy can accomplish. However, we have many more resources available to us to stand out as we deal with social issues. However, I am not naïve when it comes to the world around me. It is a dangerous place. Which option should we take?

I don’t think the third option is viable. We just can’t afford to be another Roman Empire. So to me that one is out. Isolationism just may not be practical. However, I lean toward option one, because there are so many problems around us that if we dealt with them could make us stand out even more as a bridge over troubled waters. In the end, though, I think option two is probably the most realistic. This may be what we are doing now, but we don’t seem to be committed.

Global terrorism is a reality, and a world economy is a reality. I don’t think we can isolate ourselves in this new world. My question to you is, what do you think?

And that is my thought for the day!