Sociologists report that the strong sense of patriotism and pride in our country began to change in the ’60s. The benchmark for cynicism, however, came with the Vietnam War and Watergate. It has been enhanced by investigative reporters so that today a person running for public office is figuratively stripped bare before an insatiably curious public.
One commentator writes that with the death of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis an era passed — an era characterized by manners, dignity and respect for others.
Don’t misunderstand me; I think the American people have a right to know the facts about organizations, institutions and leaders. But our focus must not just be on the ugly and the bad but on the good as well. We should not just focus on problems, but, also, on possible solutions.
In fact, I think we have to earn the right to criticize. For example, if we don’t vote, we have forfeited our right to criticize our elected leaders. If we don’t serve in some capacity in the church, we have no right to criticize the people who do. If we don’t support and work for our schools, we have relinquished the right to call the shots.
We can do this in many ways. One is to look for and help create situations that are positive and good. St. Paul must have had this in mind when he said the following paraphrased statement to the Christian Church in Philippi: “Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report, think (and act on) these things.”
In our relationships, we can build people up rather than tear them down. I have a friend who has perfected this art. When I am in her presence, I feel more hopeful about myself and the world.
Actually, this kind of love revolution is within our grasp. It will not be fought with guns and tanks, but with “faith, hope and love.” It will not happen overnight, but its effectiveness will be cumulative and powerful if one by one we focus on and help create “whatsoever things are good.”
Contact Nell Mohney at firstname.lastname@example.org.