Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On Being Right

Today's Link
2nd Cup of Coffee

Today's Saying
We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. ~Martin Luther King

Today's Picture

Let me begin today by saying I’m a Lutheran.

From the beginning Lutherans have believed that one of the worst sins is work’s righteousness, the disease of the Pharisee.
That’s where one believes that what he or she does, thinks, believes, or is makes them superior to everybody else.
This condition separates people from people and people from God.
And yes Lutherans suffer from it too. Just because you can diagnosis the disease in others doesn’t mean you see it in yourself.

That serves as a background to the rest of this article.

Little by little I am becoming convinced that the primary problem of the world is righteousness.
The problem is people and groups of people who know they are right and act on it.

It was people who knew they were right who gave up their lives for God and destroyed the World Trade Center.
It is people who know they are right who seek to force their will on Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It was a President who knew he was right that took us into war in Iraq.
It is Israel and the Palestinians both of whom know they are right that prevent peace in the middle East.
It is because we are right that our CIA felt it was okay to torture people.
It is an Iran that is sure that God wants Israel wiped from the face of the earth that scares us with the possibility of nuclear weapons.
It is a righteous North Korea that threatens the world with missiles and Atomic weapons.
All across the globe righteous groups carry on ancient feuds because it’s the right thing to do.
In America Liberal and Conservative politicians can’t find reasonable compromises because their position is the right one.
More and more the government decides what is right for us and then forces us by law to do it.
Scientists ( who should know better) on both sides of the global warming problem know what is right and so instead of looking for truth they defend a position.
Racial groups like the KKK kill and spew hatred because they are right.
Sunday one man who knew he was right on the question of abortion killed a man in Church who held a different position and therefore was evil and had to die.

Why do we fight?
Because we are right and they are wrong.
This kind of right gives us status. It makes us who we are.

We aren’t like those nasty folks who oppose gay marriage
we aren’t like those sinful folks who lobby for gay marriage.

We aren’t like that arrogant, hate spewing, pill popping Rush Linbaugh because we are right.
We aren’t like those socialist Democrats who would take away our freedoms because we are right.

We aren’t like those evil, woman hating Moslems we follow Jesus and we are right
We aren’t like those Christians we follow Allah the one true God and we are right

Our position is the right one . If you don’t hold it there is something wrong with you.
Can’t you see that.

Otherwise nice people feel they have the right to denigrate other groups of people because they are right.
If I am right and you don’t agree with me then you are uncaring, evil, scheming, irrational etc.
Why because if they were good people they would agree with me. It’s that simple.

The more things we are right on the smaller and tighter our group becomes.

But wait a minute aren’t we allowed to be right on the really important things like God?

Certainly. And you have a right to proclaim what you believe to be true.

But the moment it ceases to be proclamation and becomes attack you have crossed the line from being right to being righteous. The moment you beat others over the head with your position as the only Christian, intelligent, rational or whatever position you have crossed the line.

It is a very hard line not to cross.

So the world will continue to suffer at the hands of all those who are right and would force everybody else to be right as well.

News from Pigeon Falls
The little town in my basement where the trains still run, dragons fly, and life is back to normal
It had to happen. Tommy UK and Tammy are in love again. They have been working together on the mystery of the Town Hall trench and have rediscovered each other. Tommy tried hard not to let it happen. He was heart broken when she dumped him before but you can’t fight true love. The smile is back in their faces. Their step seems lighter. Life is just better.
Now they have gone from trying to solve the mystery of the trench which has come to a dead end to trying to solve the mystery of Tommy’s real parents.
Together they went to Tommy’s old friend Mayor Trumble and asked her for help. Tommy knows that she has lots of contacts with people that might be able to help and certainly have better resources than he has. She suggested he open a Facebook account on the internet and tell people he was looking for his parents. They might even see it or somebody who knew or knows his parents might see it.
Tommy and Tammy thought that was a great idea. Mrs. Trumble told him to keep trying as it’s possible his real parents are just waiting for the right time to contact him.

Wrap UP
A rather ordinary day. The hanging garden should be back up tomorrow. We think we lost only the middle flower. One of the rose bushes has a bud.I visited the blogs that left a comment yesterday. Now I need a breathing treatment.


Blogger Lou said...

Perhaps because of the anonymity, I read a lot of righteousness on the blogs. Some of it sad, some of it frightening.
This read almost like a sermon this morning. A much needed sermon.

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't disagree, but I'd add that many people having a different idea of what is right for YOU as opposed to what they allow to be right for them(think situational ethics)is a problem also. Someone I knew who'd been on Welfare most of her adult life, & picketed for Welfare reforms(additions), did a 360 when she inherited her Grandmother's estate. I can't even talk to her now without laughing. I've met too many people who talk one thing, but different rules apply to their actions.

3:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today, I am thankful for Dr. John's definition of "right" vs. "Righteous".

5:03 AM  
Blogger Jeni said...

A very well-stated post! In this instance, you sure were "right."

7:49 AM  
Blogger Melli said...

I LOVE this post today! Of course I do... you're RIGHT! But don't let it go to your head... I try really hard not to be "right"... I don't want to judge others on what THEY believe. My bigger problem is in NOT wanting to be WRONG! I get really upset when "others" want to push their beliefs on me. I'm happy to let "you" believe what you do, be happy to let "me" believe what I do! I love to discuss differing beliefs... but too often it turns into one side or the other trying to "win".

I knew Tommy UK and Tammy would be back together soon. Did Pastor Joan change the acolyte schedule yet?

8:21 AM  
Blogger Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

MLK says it all.

How did that "disaster" happen?

8:41 AM  
Blogger Cherie said...

I will always remember a comment about "righteousness" that you made on my post about the concept of "Win-Win" several months ago. (I've saved the e-mail too.) You said, "If I am right I don't have to compromise. I Don't have to talk to you. You need to come up to my high position. At such times win-win is very difficult."

I'm still committed to "Win-Win." I find it encouraging to see some people that acknowledge that we don't all have it figured out, and maybe we can learn something from each other by listening and working together.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never thought of this before but it does make sense to me. Thank you for sharing this. So Tammy and Tommy UK are in love again. I hope the Facebook account helps

10:17 AM  
Anonymous quilly said...

Dr. John -- your words today are very sensible. I realized with a shock the other day that the older I get, the less open my mind is to other possibilities. I pulled up short and meditated on the thought a bit, because I never want to become one of those people who are incapable of understanding (not necessarily agreeing with) other points of view. I certainly don't want to become a "do it my way" or else kind of thinker.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Baron's Life said...

Thank you Dr. John for this very thought provoking essay...how right you are.
Love today's saying:
We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. ~Martin Luther King

11:48 AM  
Anonymous the amoeba said...

Eloquent and powerful.

Of all the religious earworms from my childhood, this one is the loudest: "Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning" (Eccl. 7:20 NRSV), more famously paraphrased by Paul as "There is no one who is righteous, not even one" (Rom. 3:10 NRSV).

Mark (11:20-25) has Jesus explain the "parable" of the fig tree like this (I paraphrase): In this faith, you have great power. Be careful how you use it.

The "bad things to/from good people" conundrum is one of the classics of faith. I have come to think that the metaphor of God serves primarily to define human communities, its support of members and its defense against outsiders.

When that metaphor defines the group broadly, conflict with outsiders is lessened but management of the group becomes difficult.

When it defines the group narrowly, outside conflict increases but management of the group (among other things, to meet the outside challenges) becomes easier.

If this were not so, I propose, the "universal catholic church" of the creed(s) would be the universal catholic church.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Nessa said...

Very well put and a great reminder on what divides us from family and friends and nations.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

You're "Right." I do try to look at others opinions and causes but all too often I'm not willing to compromise... I'm right, I must be.
Wonderful post!

The flowers are so sad. I hope you were able to save them. Is there a story?

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Alice Audrey said...

Awwww, such a pity on the hanging garden. High wind?

Tsk on falling back in love so fast.

5:35 PM  
Blogger 2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Thank you for linking to me. I'm glad to find your site; this post reminds me of Garrison Keillor a little bit. I love it when he talks Lutheran!

6:24 PM  
Blogger Voegtli said...

There are, unfortunately, to many people who thing they are right. All the time.

I am right, sometimes, and I am wrong, many times. And I am not ashamed to admit it.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Carleen said...

A very thought-provoking post.

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world." -- John Milton

7:53 PM  
Blogger starbender said...

I try not to judge anyone, In order to understand their actions, you must first walk in their shoes.

Too often we forget that we ALL came from the same place. No matter what religion we claim, trace it back, and in the end, we are all the same.

Love one another! It is easy to love someone who loves you, but to love your enemy, that is the trick.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

Dr John ~ I am more wrong than right, and I am happy with that. To say my mind is shut would be wrong. I am always open to the other's right to say or do what they think.

Unfortunately there are too many out there who think it is Their Way or the Highway.

Thank you for sharing.

9:11 PM  
Blogger aims said...

Freedom of speech - freedom of choice.

They're back in love - hooray!

11:10 AM  

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