“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
This quote by President Roosevelt was a part of the 17 minute retirement speech delivered to his colleagues yesterday by Republican Senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona. He basically said he was retiring because of the coarseness of the leadership of our nation, and that he could no longer be complicit in the undermining of the core values that has made our country great.
I salute the Senator for his courage and applaud his public denouncement of the crude, boorish, and destructive methodology of #BLOTUS. More of our national leaders need to have the strength of character to be openly critical of the current President and his outrageous, infantile, and morally indefensible behavior. Silence in the face of the actions of this president is not only unpatriotic, but in the words of Roosevelt, “morally treasonable to the American public.”
This admonition by a former President is well worth remembering as we draw ever closer to the BLOTUS being officially installed in the highest office of the land. The American public has a patriotic duty to hold every President to the highest standards. Not to do so goes beyond being unpatriotic, it is moral treason.
History is full of unjust laws. When we know that a law is not just, Jefferson writes that we have a duty to resist that law. I have no problem with that. The question for me is how far to we go in our resistance. Are there limits to our duty to resist unjust laws?
The moral imperative to always move toward justice is clear. Standing against injustice is also demanded by my discipleship to Jesus Christ.
As a practicing Christian, my first and deepest allegiance is always to Jesus Christ. Faithfulness to the gospel demands that I respond to injustice in love.
With the election of Donald Trump this has become an existential issue for me. “When injustice becomes law, how far do I go in resisting? I think this is a question many of us are going to have to ask.
I have never called it duty, but I love this quote by Bukowski, my favorite contemporary poet. My entire adult life has been consumed with a burning desire to create a world without hunger. That focus has led me to over 100 countries and more areas of conflict and devastation than I can count, and it has introduced me to an entire world of caring and compassionate people who live to make a difference in the lives of those most in need.
Now, as the flames are starting to burn a little less intensely I am gratified to see that the world has finally realized that ending hunger in our lifetime is a significant priority. I am gratified to see that the United Nations has set a measurable goal of ending hunger by 2030.
Whether I see a hunger-free world or not, the ashes of my life will forever hold the warmth of all those who have given themselves to this grand, glorious and world-changing vision. Thank you, one and all, for caring enough to help end hunger in our lifetime.
I do not know John Taylor Gatto. Recently, however, I came across a quote on prayer attributed to him that resonates with me. It is a fitting reflection as we begin the new year. I would love to know what you think of Gatto’s words.
I pray for strength to accept that lives most often end in tragedy, that quests don’t always work, that understanding is a long and lonely hunt, that I can’t reason my way to love, eat gold, or live forever. And that none of this matters. I pray to understand that I am here to find my way back to God, whatever that takes, and all the rest, save love and duty, is an illusion.