In the Land of Low Expectations

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In the Land of Low Expectations

We live in a land of low expectations.

Some clergy abuse innocents; politicians think they are above the law; Wall Street gets rich at the expense of the middle class; husbands cheat on their wives; parents give children money instead of time; the educational system fails the kids it is trusted to serve.

I was thinking about this when I read about comments from Andrew Young, author of the gossipy tell-all book, “The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down,” when he spoke at the University of Washington.

Young’s essential point was that we are asking too much of our politicians because, he says, they’re “only human and they’re going to make mistakes.”
Young has the distinction of using his 15 minutes of fame to regale us with comments that are both obvious and obviously wrong.

I’m willing to grant his point that politicians are human (despite mounting evidence to the contrary), but Young is wrong to say we are expecting too much from them. The fact is, we are not expecting too much but too little — from clergy, politicians, husbands, educators and, of course, ourselves.

I was raised to believe that God loves me the way that I am, but loves me too much to let me stay that way. I was urged to become the best version of myself. I was taught that there is right and wrong, and there are consequences for doing what is wrong.

Back in 1991, in the film “Grand Canyon,” Danny Glover played a character who confronted a menacing gang leader. “Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this,” he says to the gang leader. “Everything’s supposed to be different than what is here.”

When everything is different than it is supposed to be, we have a choice: We can lower our standards and accept the worst in us as the new norm, or we can aim higher.

A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal described the United States as a nation with “a drug problem and a high school sex problem and a welfare problem and an AIDS problem and a rape problem. None of this will go away until more people in positions of responsibility are willing to come forward and explain, in frankly moral terms, that some of the things people do nowadays are wrong.”

The ability to see such a thing, and to say it with personal conviction and integrity, requires people who have faced down their own demons and fought to overcome them. We are not looking for self-righteous leaders; we are looking for those who respect the dark side because they battle it daily.

George Washington Carver put it this way: “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

Let’s stop making excuses and become the best version of ourselves, both individually and as a society.

A civilization will be truly great when it is good, and goodness begins with citizens aiming high, inspired by leaders who can show us a better way not just in what they say, but in what they do and how they do it.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

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    Posted in Staublog in April 26, 2010 by | No Comments »

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