Civility?

Where did the civility go in our political discourse? This question has been asked time and time again in the wake of the Tucson shooting. Many blame political virulence, partisan pundits, Tea party members, conservatives, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, etc, etc. More than hypocrisy this question from the liberal media shows an ignorance of history.

As if political discourse has become more uncivil in the last 20 years, moving from dignified and reserved to out of control and distorted. Is this reality? Wishful thinking? The simple reality is that as long as humans have engaged in politics, even in its infancy, politics could and did turn ugly. From nearly the beginning of our country, both political parties had damaging periodicals which attacked with a vengeance. Both Federalists and Republican propagandists put out pamphlets and letters denouncing the other side. The Federalists were accused of being “monarchists” while the Republicans were against any growth in the federal government. It was less than 50 years into the experiment of democracy, that with the prospect of war with France being very real, that the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 was passed and signed by John Adams. In a matter of weeks Congress gave the president permission to deport any alien that he deemed a threat, and protected the President, Congress, and elected officials from libel and made the act of insighting sedition a punishable crime. 

 Many looking back complain that this movement by Congress during the  Adams administration is  one of the darkest pieces of legislation; however, what it undermines and really brings to light is the fact that civility has not digressed or decayed as we always suppose. More aptly civility has yet to be attained. In case you disagree recall that also during the Adam’s Administration the first brawl in Congress took place between Lyons and Griswold, which included spitting, fire-place pokers, and a wrestling match requiring other members of Congress to drag the two contenders apart. Sound like a precursor to reality television?

Before we start demanding  new controls on talk radio or political pundits, which will try to legislate civility and in the process infringe on the First Amendment, it is important to remember that in the heart of partisan bickering, trash talking, and the governmental grind which ensues that it is not the sign of impending “Armageddon”. Rather it is a sign that the government is acting in step with political precedent, staying true to tradition, and working much like it always has.

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Arizona Heat

The actions which took place this previous week in Arizona encapsulate both the best in man and the absolute worst. People in the media speak to the unprecedented political clambering, bringing disagreement to disunion and contention leading to violent outbursts. What these people fail to realize is that throughout human history from the time of Cain and Abel, man has been capable of fulfilling a vast range of action from pure evil to the most unselfish bravery and sacrifice. It is only in times of great upheaval, immense uncertainty, trials, tribulations unseen before, that man in his fickle imperfection, will both rise to higher levels, pushing the expectations of the next generation and fall to even greater depths of destruction and despair. September 11th provides an example of unparalleled  service as first responders ran into the smoking World Trade Centers, undaunted by the fear of personal injury and death.

What the events in Arizona again have crystalized, is that in the face of the utmost evil, people will rise to the occasion in selfless, heroic, honorable ways. When a volunteer staff member for the Congresswoman Giffords will tend to her wounds, focusing on her before his own safety we see the best in humans.  This has been proven true throughout history. Even when the roots of country were still shallow and without much depth, our leaders were willing to meet the challenges. Our society oftentimes, praises action and there is no doubt to the heroic nature of this type of service. There is however another type of service, one requiring something more than instinctive, trained responses. An illustration of this comes in none other than John Adams,eventually the second President of the United States. A leader whose persistence in working towards independence, month after month, debating, working on over 20 committees, working through sickness, exhaustion, and extended periods away from family, all underline characteristics which speak to the greatness of devotion in the face of adversity.

More fully, it has become  clear that man without a focus on service, charity, and most importantly God will stray off the path of righteousness and decency into a world of brokenness. The only path that brings eternal rewards is the one which demands service to God by serving others. IT is through our service to others which will illustrate our love, devotion, and sacrifice for God. There will be times when we don’t understand why something happens, it appears senseless, destructive, deadly, but even in these midst, we see people reaching out, reflecting the love of Christ in their actions. Coming to the aid of the hurting, feeding those going hungry, putting our faith into practicing, living out what we say we believe.

This post is obviously running into a ton of different issues: God’s providence, evil, human bravery, sacrifice, heroism, but all of them stem from either a devotion to God or occurs when someone is devoid of God.