Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For all have sinned ...

Perfection. We demand it of our parents. We demand it of our elected representatives. We demand it of our Founding Fathers. We demand perfection of those we look up to in Politics, Sports, Entertainment, and in Religion. And yet ... is that even possible? Not one of us is perfect.

What brought this up? I was watching the PBS channel this afternoon as it aired, for the umpteenth time, "Eyes on the Prize". I watched Martin Luther King, Jr. during the marches, listened to him speak, and was struck by how he sounded. And I remembered how he was a far-from-perfect man. Indeed, he was a philanderer, if the reports about him are true. Yet, why would that matter, given the path he had taken? His 'mission' was to gain the Civil Rights that Black Americans had been denied. He did not march to secure marital fidelity, laudible as that aim might have been. And I remember how that philandering was used as a cudgel against him, and by proxie, against the Civil Rights Movement as a whole.

As if the imperfections of any person negates the truth of what they may say, or the actions they may champion. True, one's veracity can be questioned if one lies. That is sensible. But if I support the profiling of suspects based on ethnic characteristics, religious dress, or 'tell-tale' mannerisms, why is profiling considered suspect because I am not a perfect person? By that very standard all are then suspect and none can be considered worthy of support. (Yes, I do support profiling - it makes perfect sense!)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal..." We must call into question that statement. Why? Because the author of that sentiment owned black slaves. Right? How does the imperfections of Thomas Jefferson degrade the beauty of the sentiment he expressed there, or in so many of his writings? In fact, his writings transcend Jefferson himself. He was a flawed man, even for his times, who could, when the times demanded it, move above himself, see the errors of himself and others, and call for a greatness of purpose he lacked within himself. Jefferson is a handy target for the foolish who love to cut down those better than themselves. He was not perfect, ergo he is unworthy of respect.

Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, had little use for blacks. For much of his life a black man or woman was an rarity. Any scholar of Lincoln can explain, in depth, how ambivalent Lincoln actually was as far as blacks were concerned. As President his first concern was the continued unity of the United States. And yet, when the time came, and the opportunity arose for Lincoln to move above himself, he gave us the Emancipation Proclamation. His detractors explain to us that it held only in the states then in rebellion, and not in the border states that remained, precariously, within the Union. True as far as that goes. It was a pragmatic move. But it was also one that said much. Lincoln waited until the Union forces had sufficient success in the field to announce the Emancipation Proclamation. At that moment, the Civil War was changed from a War to save the Union to a War to end Slavery. Lincoln was smart enough to know that it could not have been issued earlier. Lincoln grew as President, learned as President, and became the Great Emancipator despite being little interested in black Americans. Lincoln was a very imperfect man. And today it's almost fashionable to deride him. Yet, he did great things that went beyond his self.

I know that I am imperfect. And I will always be imperfect. I don't strive to gain perfection because I know that is not a possibility. I also know that another's faults do not automatically wipe out what they may say, do, or support.

I am no lover of Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ was a dishonest politician, a bully, at times a power-hungry fool. But this southerner did more for the Civil Rights of black Americans than anyone in the twentieth century, except, perhaps, MLK. Nothing in his history could point to a Johnson Presidency as a high-point in black Civil Rights. Yet he moved above his own past, his own upbringing, to champion Civil Rights. His mishandling of the Vietnam War is a lesson in foolishness, but cannot detract a single plaudit from the greater good of ensuring the Voting Rights of all American citizens.

When I listen to the news and hear the denigration heaped on politicians by their opponents, I wonder just what they could do to make their opponents happy. The answer: nothing. As some have said, if G.W.Bush discovered a cure for cancer, he would find himself pilloried by his opponents for his lack of oratorical power, his smirking smile, his history as a party boy. He is not perfect, thus the Left can try to destroy him for not being what they wish him to be.

Is there a big point to this? No, I don't think so. I'm just saying that we ain't perfect, we won't be perfect. If we cannot argue with somebody about the ideas they espouse, without taking shots at their imperfections as human beings, then perhaps it's time we just shut the heck up. You and I know that there is much to fight, out there, in the arena of ideas. We fight against the Islamic Barbarisms. We fight against the Communization of our Society. We battle the indoctrination of our children in the mis-begotten philosophies of Political Correctness. And it is altogether proper to point to inconsistencies in any man's actions and words. But we can do so without denigrating Dennis Hastert for being fat, or Barbara Streisand for being shrill.

If the idea is offensive, say so. If the person espousing that idea is imperfect, so what? So am I. So are you. Let's fight the Good Fight.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Can I get an "Amen"?


Dardin Soto said...

This is one of the best arguments and out-of-the-box pieces I've read in terms of these historical figures. Absolutely brilliant. It lays out in laymans term -or as Malcolm X said "in a languge that we all can understand"-, what they were thinking when they did their most memorable actions as Presidents. I HAVE to come here more often. I keep forgetting how damn good you are (and how damn envious I am of your talent)...
Excellent, excellent....!

Joubert said...

You can only get an "Amen" from me up to this point: "I am no lover of Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ was a dishonest politician, a bully, at times a power-hungry fool. But this southerner did more for the Civil Rights of black Americans than anyone in the twentieth century, except, perhaps, MLK."

LBJ and MLK were both flawed as human beings and I can forgive that but I cannot forgive them for the hypocrisy and feel-good socialist nonsense they both brought to bear on the race question. They were both not only dishonest but short-sighted and opportunistic.

As Shakespeare said: "Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is the last and greatest treason."

camojack said...

Amen. The only perfect person in history was crucified for it...

Hopalong Cassidy said...


Ecclesiastes 7:20 "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."

Brooke said...

Amen, brotha', Amen!