Thursday, January 27, 2011

Remembering an American Idealist and Regretting a Wasted Year

The natural idealism of youth is an idealism, alas, for which we do not always provide as many outlets as we should. --Robert Sargent Shriver (1915 - 2011)
He embodied everything good and decent and optimistic about America. Sargent Shriver, who died this month at the age of 95, was a genuine American idealist. He believed in the power of individuals to make a difference and the power of youth to transform the world. He devoted much of his life attempting to inspire a culture of service and community activism. Few Americans today really know much about Sargent Shriver. Although his intellect and political skills were formidable, he was overshadowed by his connection to the Kennedy’s; the husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he was perpetually relegated to status of brother-in-law.

In the early 1960’s, when the United States resonated with optimism and the nation’s youth felt inspired to serve, Shriver radiated all of the positive energy and spirit of JFK’s New Frontier. When a young and charismatic President Kennedy declared in his inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," it was Shriver who led the way. Shriver created the Peace Corps and was its first director. In its formative years, he inspired an entire generation of Americans to commit 27 months of their life in far off lands; to live among peoples and cultures that had, until then, been alien to them. Now in its fiftieth year, the Peace Corps has sent over 200,000 young people to impoverished and developing countries, building bridges literally and figuratively, teaching, learning, relating, and spreading all that is good and decent about American democracy.

Since his passing, story upon story has been told of how Shriver’s commitment and dedication, his passion for youth, and his unparalleled belief in the power of relationships helped change lives forever. He sent an army of bright, energetic young Americans on a mission of peace, armed only with smiles and a helping hand, and asked them to spread friendship and understanding throughout the world.

The Peace Corps emerged from an unformed idea articulated in a series of speeches in 1960 by presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, who called for the creation of a “Peace Corps of talented young people” to boost America’s attempts to win the hearts and minds of developing nations; an effort, according to Kennedy, that had been hampered by “ill-chosen, ill-equipped, and ill-briefed” ambassadors who were losing influence to the Soviet Union. Kennedy called on Shriver to transform style into substance. No one was better suited to the task. Shriver combined the organizational skills of an experienced and pragmatic businessman (he had spent several years as the manager of Merchandise Mart, part of Joseph Kennedy’s business empire) with compelling salesmanship and sincere idealism to turn Kennedy’s untested concept into a lasting legacy of success.

When the brief reign of Camelot ended and many of Kennedy’s aides and advisors left for home, Shriver stayed behind to lead the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty, a more logistically difficult and politically complex task that required immense discretion and tact. Political enemies and ideological opponents abounded. Once again, Shriver succeeded where others had failed. He built a series of institutions – Head Start, the Job Corps, VISTA, the Legal Services Corporation, and other services for the poor – that thrive to this day, making the United States a better, more compassionate country. In 1972, when George McGovern asked him to be his running mate in a losing presidential election, Shriver was the one bright spot in an otherwise regrettable year. Along the way, Shriver assisted his beloved wife of 56 years in creating the Special Olympics, a cause Eunice championed the rest of her life, and which provided opportunities for young persons with intellectual disabilities to overcome stereotypes and to be recognized for their own incredible talents and abilities.

Shriver always challenged others to work harder, to do more, and to dream bigger. Not surprisingly, the root of Shriver’s concept of service was his faith. A devout Catholic, he tried to model his life after the teachings of Jesus. He admired Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and, starting in high school and throughout his life, asked himself every day, “What have I done to improve the lot of humanity?” As Jonathan Cohn noted recently in The New Republic, “Shriver’s Catholicism was in some ways analogous to Day’s: rooted in the ethics of the Christian Gospels; dedicated to working toward peace, social justice, and redemption of suffering here on earth; and concerned especially with easing the plight of the poor and the disabled.” Always filled with good spirits and good humor, it would be difficult not to be inspired by the life and times of Robert Sargent Shriver.

One of my enduring regrets in life is the lack of vision I demonstrated at the age of 22, the time in life when one’s youthful energy, spirit of adventure, and freedom to set one’s path are at their peak. I graduated from Wittenberg University in May 1981 with plans to attend business school at Indiana University at Bloomington, where I had been accepted as a teacher’s assistant in accounting and could expect an MBA degree two years hence. For the summer, I had a job lined up in the financial accounting department of Dresser Industries in Houston, Texas, where my brother-in-law was employed in oilfield services. He had arranged what seemed at the time a great opportunity, a summer working in a real-life, good paying job at a Fortune 500 corporation. So, off to Houston I went.

It did not take long, however, before I sensed that something was missing and that I had sold myself short. Although my intellectual interests had always pointed in other directions, I was captive to conventional notions of economic security. I could feel myself heading for the life of the “Everyman” and emulating Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, “Before it's all over we're gonna get a little place out in the country, and I'll raise some vegetables, a couple of chickens..." I lacked vision and, worse, the courage of my convictions. I needed more from life and work but did not know how to make it happen. How could I devote my life to something more meaningful than the pursuit of money and profit, necessary perhaps to sustain the economy, but spiritually unfulfilling? I needed more.

Three weeks before leaving for business school, I experienced an existential crisis of sorts. While I did not yet know my direction in life, I was pretty sure it should be more in tune with my passions. Law school, which more closely appealed to my interests in politics, government, and society, had until then seemed out-of-reach. As the son of a minister and a school teacher, two traditionally low paying professions that could not easily support the ever increasing tuition at U.S. law schools, I could not reasonably expect much financial assistance, especially after my parents had just put three children through college over the previous eleven years. Ever the pragmatist, my father pushed me to pursue the practical professions, accounting and business. “You need to make a living,” he would say. When I took a course in Native American Literature in college, he snorted, “What kind of a job will that get you?” Although my father’s advice was well intentioned and influenced in part by his having been raised in the Depression, it glaringly ignored his and my mother’s own paths in life, in which service to others was their calling, their raison d’ĂȘtre. Even then, I felt conflicted by pragmatism and idealism.

When the manager of the accounting department offered to hire me as the full-time replacement for another accountant who was leaving at the end of summer, I mustered the courage to inform my parents that I was withdrawing from business school and staying in Houston. “I want to go to law school,” I said. My parents were accepting, but skeptical, afraid that I would not follow through and would find it difficult to make the transition back to school after a year or more of reality. But this was the first truly independent decision of my young life and, given where I sat in August 1981, it was the right decision. Later that year, I was accepted into a very good law school on a full-tuition scholarship and have been very fortunate in my career opportunities. I have no regrets about the path I eventually took.

When examined from a broader, historical perspective, however, my year in Houston was uninspired. Looking back, it was a wasted year, full of idle, unproductive time in which my most creative thoughts consisted of how to get through the day until happy hour arrived. Now, as I ponder the life of Sargent Shriver and all of the young Americans he inspired to serve; as I think of all the young men and women today who serve in the military, or tutor and teach inner city kids in programs like City Year and Teach for America, or commit to a year of community service in AmeriCorps, I cannot help but wonder why I was not more thoughtful in how I chose to spend that period in my life, before I was tied down with mortgages and children and college tuition. “If a young person has any idealism at all,” Shriver once noted, “it's strongest about the time he finishes college.”

A few years after arriving in Washington, I learned of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), a social justice ministry founded by Luther Place Church, at Thomas Circle, when it was led by the Rev. John Steinbruck, a passionate and articulate preacher of the Social Gospel. Based in part on the spirit and model of the Peace Corps, since its founding in 1979, LVC has placed young college graduates (and others) into year-long stints with homeless shelters, HIV-AIDS clinics, low-income housing agencies, immigrant aid services, and public policy advocacy on behalf of poor and low-income people in cities throughout the country. Similar to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and the Mennonite Voluntary Service, LVC was inspired, consciously or not, by the vision and practical guidance of Sargent Shriver. Although I was fortunate to have later served, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, on LVC’s Steering Committee and National Advisory Board, I have always felt somewhat cheated for having never been among the more than two thousand LVCers who devoted a year or more of their lives in selfless service to the world, and who learned more from the people and organizations they served than they could ever impart.

I know, of course, that we cannot change the past or travel back in time. Sargent Shriver, as much as anyone, would insist that we look only to the future and commit to it. But if I could have done one thing differently in my life, I would have listened more carefully to the voices of people like Sargent Shriver and his cadre of Peace Corps volunteers. And maybe, just maybe, I would have made better use of my time in the fall of 1981. Everyone I have ever known who spent time in the Peace Corps, or LVC, or many of the other outstanding service organizations, have said the same thing, “It changed my life.” I cannot answer precisely why I was so clueless and unadventurous in 1981. But a touch of the Sarge would have done me some good.

Monday, January 17, 2011

First and Foremost a Preacher: The Anti-War Imperative of Martin Luther King Jr.

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action. But they asked, and rightly so, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. – Martin Luther King Jr.
On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York City and delivered the single most powerful indictment of the Vietnam War by a leading voice of moral dissent in American society. Before a large gathering of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, surrounded by such heavyweights as Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel and Yale University Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, King explained why it was time to break his silence on the war. Though he had become closely allied with President Lyndon Johnson, he acknowledged that “when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war.” Over the course of the next 45 minutes, he articulated his opposition to war in principle and to American involvement in Vietnam in particular, condemning in the strongest terms the policies of a Democratic president who had, just a few years earlier, helped King secure passage of the most significant civil rights and voting rights laws in American history.

King chose Riverside Church to demonstrate that the anti-war cause he embraced was not a subversive movement, but resulted from a life-long commitment to Christian principles. He had “come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.” He anticipated, correctly as it turned out, that his statements would be criticized by many of his own supporters, including members of the black community who believed that King’s foray into the anti-war movement would dilute his efforts to secure civil, economic, and human rights for all Americans. He was “greatly saddened” by such criticism, however, “for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling.”

For King, there was nothing inconsistent in speaking out on behalf of the poor and opposing an unjust war. The build-up in Vietnam was diverting resources away from anti-poverty efforts at home and, because of draft exemptions that disproportionately benefited affluent whites, the poor increasingly were called to “fight and die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population.”

We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. . . .
King was first and foremost a preacher whose faith and calling exceeded national allegiances and compelled him to act within the meaning of his commitment “to the ministry of Jesus Christ.”

To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I’m speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men – for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?
King also had an abiding faith in American democracy and the principles upon which our nation was founded. Four years earlier, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., he spoke to the hopes and dreams of all American citizens that the nation would one day rise up and embrace the ideals of justice and equality for all. “I have a dream,” he said. In 1964, when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, King understood that beyond the race problem in America was the problem of violence and “the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.” By 1967, however, his movement for non-violent social change was under attack from some of the very people he was trying to help, from the growing militancy of urban blacks and the rise of the black power movement, to the competing visions of more radical and less conciliatory forces. Yet as a follower of Jesus and as a student of Ghandi, King never wavered in his commitment to non-violence, in his belief that love was more powerful than hate, that to break down the walls of oppression and injustice required an appeal to the hearts and souls of his fellow human beings.

From the pulpit at Riverside Church, King ached for the soul of America and believed it “incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.” In a manner exceptional for an American social critic and prophet of his day, King’s voice of conscience crossed national boundaries. He reviewed the history of colonial repression in Vietnam and saw how western powers repeatedly sided with the forces of despotism and oppression in squelching the revolutionary forces of independence. Although in 1945 the Vietnamese people proclaimed independence from French and Japanese occupation, U.S. policy makers believed the people of Vietnam were not ready for independence, and for nine years “vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to re-colonize Vietnam.”

As a result, the peasants of Vietnam were denied a chance at real and meaningful land reform, something they genuinely needed, and instead were ruled by one of history’s most vicious modern dictators, Premier Diem. By the time King stood in the podium at Riverside Church, superior American air power and napalm had destroyed an ancient culture, its farms and forests; U.S. forces had killed over a million people, including tens of thousands of children. If King was to take his calling as a Christian pastor seriously, if he was to remain committed to his moral and ethical beliefs, he could not remain silent as the United States subjected a country the size of Italy to more than three times the tonnage of bombs dropped in all of World War II.

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. . . . We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.
As a pastor and as an American, King also was deeply concerned with what the war was doing to the American soldiers who had to fight it, for “what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved.”

It was time, King said, for the madness to cease. In demanding an end to the war, he spoke in language consistent with his pastoral calling and which implicitly embraced the Christian concept of care for the “least of these” as expressed in Matthew 25:

I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. . . . I speak as one who loves America.
King encouraged churches and synagogues to protest the war and to take creative actions in opposition to it. He then looked beyond Vietnam and addressed the wrongs of war itself.

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
King called for a unilateral cease-fire, an end to the bombing, and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam. Although in seven years, U.S. policy makers would accept the wisdom of King’s words, in April 1967, King was very much in the minority. President Johnson never forgave King for breaking ranks. A large segment of the civil rights movement deplored King’s violation of an unspoken contract. The mainstream press also turned on King. The New York Times called King’s sermon at Riverside Church “wasteful and self-defeating.” Life magazine said it was “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post suggested that King’s followers “would never again accord him the same confidence” and said he had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, and his people.”

King answered his critics during a television interview on July 28, 1967. When asked about the supposed contradiction between his efforts for civil rights and his statements against the war, King replied, “Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And wherever I see injustice, I’m going to take a stand against it whether it’s in Mississippi or in Vietnam.”

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, one year to the day after his remarks at Riverside Church. We will never know how American history might have changed if the nation had followed King’s advice in 1967. Had America listened to King, thousands of young American boys would have come home and lived to work and love and raise families of their own; the people and environment of Vietnam would have been spared some of the worst destruction in the annals of warfare; and America would not have ended its involvement in Vietnam on the wrong side of history.

As I look back 43 years later, it is apparent that the moral courage of a Martin Luther King Jr. is exceedingly rare. His was a lonely courage. He spoke out against the war at a time when the majority of Americans remained in support of U.S. policy. He branched off when the civil rights movement was divided, when supporters of non-violence were dwindling, and when the easy thing to do would have been to remain silent. He publicly broke from a president who had risked his political support in the South to help the causes for which King had fought his entire adult life, and he rejected conformity to an anti-Communist dogma that had dominated American politics for a generation. He exercised a most difficult form of courage, risking everything for a cause greater than himself.

I recognize that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a saint.  He was not perfect. Like all of us, he was a mortal human being with human flaws. No one understood this better than King. But today more than ever we need people with King’s exceptional courage and prophetic insight, his moral voice and passion for justice, his vision of peace and universal love. As a people, we are less complete in his absence.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Reflection on Our Times

It would be easy to blame the tragic shooting in Arizona on the ugly political rhetoric that has dominated our political discourse during the last two years. There can be little dispute, after all, that the majority of the most irresponsible outbursts of late have originated from right-wing elements of American society. It is tempting, therefore, to blame Sarah Palin, as some in the media have, for repeatedly using the phrase “Don’t retreat, reload” and for displaying on her Facebook page the crosshairs of a rifle scope targeting selected members of Congress, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the talented and popular congresswoman shot in the head during Saturday’s mass shooting. It is tempting as well to blame the treasonous statements of Sharron Angle, who talked of “domestic enemies” in the U.S. Congress during her Senate campaign in Nevada and “hope[d]” that “Second Amendment remedies” would not be necessary. It would be easy to blame the anti-government vitriol of such right-wing talk show hosts and commentators as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter, who routinely use heightened and emotionally charged language to fire up their audiences. But although violent rhetoric has become a part of the nation’s political climate, there is no point in laying blame on any political party or commentator for what happened in Arizona.

The fact is that we are a violent country, and a big country, and some of our citizens are mentally and emotionally unstable. America has a long history of political violence that has resulted in the assassinations of four presidents and attempts on the lives of six others. Credible threats are made against President Obama almost daily and extraordinary security measures are an unfortunate fact of life for virtually all modern U.S. presidents. Members of Congress, federal judges, prosecutors – all have experienced a rise in threat levels in recent years. We are a nation that loves its guns and we make it excessively easy for most anyone to obtain one, especially in Arizona. We depict gruesome violence in our movies, in our television shows and video games, and then feign surprise when mentally unhinged people act on those images. We live in a violent country that values individual freedoms – the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the freedom of association – even at the expense of public safety.

Whatever demons or voices may have influenced Jared Lee Loughner, it was American democracy that was assaulted by his actions, American civic engagement that suffered the most severe setback. As Speaker of the House John Boehner eloquently stated in canceling this week’s legislative agenda, “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.” Indeed, the tragedy in Tucson was an attack on the soul of this nation.

In my lifetime, this country has repeatedly experienced intense political divisions coupled with violence against our leaders. During the 1960’s, with the country angrily divided over Vietnam and civil rights, when civil unrest infested our cities, we lived through the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. The 1970’s brought us Kent State and Watergate, school busing and Roe v. Wade, and the nation remained divided and angry. In 1972, presidential candidate George Wallace was shot in the stomach during a campaign rally. During a seventeen-day stretch in September 1975, two attempts were made on the life of President Gerald Ford. In 1981, John Hinckley stood outside the Washington Hilton and shot President Ronald Reagan and his press secretary, Bob Brady, as they walked to the presidential motorcade waiting curbside. During the cultural wars of the 1990s, when we fought over gun control and abortion rights, right-wing extremists blew up abortion clinics and Timothy McVeigh committed the mass murder of 168 people in Oklahoma City.

That this country is divided on political and philosophical grounds is nothing new. From debates over federalism and state’s rights, slavery and civil rights, women’s suffrage and prohibition, Vietnam and abortion, we have been frequently split at the seams. In the 19th century, we faced secession and civil war; a century later, civil unrest, non-violent protest, and cries of “America, love it or leave it.” When John Kennedy went to Dallas in November 1963, Texas was awash in right-wing anger, fueled by the John Birch Society, over Kennedy’s handling of the Cold War, school desegregation, and federal interference with state’s rights. Leaflets containing the president’s photograph and “WANTED FOR TREASON” circulated throughout the city. When United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson visited Dallas earlier that fall, he was spit on by angry protestors. As ugly and grotesque as much of the political rhetoric has been recently – particularly during debates over health care and immigration – it is, unfortunately, not exceptional. It also is largely disconnected from the troubled miscreants who assassinate our leaders or fire assault weapons on crowds of innocent people.

We may never know precisely what motivated Loughner to shoot a popular and well-liked congresswoman, or why he opened fire on a group of innocent citizens, wounding fourteen people and killing six, including a federal judge, a nine-year-old girl, a congressional staffer, and three elderly citizens. Although he espoused anti-government passions, all we really know is that Loughner was a very troubled soul, a mentally disturbed man with a semi-automatic weapon and an abundance of ammunition. In the days ahead, we likely will learn of numerous red flags and warning signals that went unheeded, clues of his severe emotional instability, actions and words committed long before Saturday morning’s shooting that should have given many people pause.

Much of the commentary I have read so far on this matter has brushed over a principal issue: The refusal of this country to treat mental illness properly, and the lack of adequate mental health counseling in schools and communities. As long as we refuse to deal intelligently with mental illness, including its diagnosis and treatment, tragedies like what occurred in Arizona will continue to be repeated throughout the country.

The events in Arizona should also make us question, once and for all, the foolishness of a gun-culture which allows an apparently mentally unstable young man easy access to a semi-automatic weapon. A sensible and mature society places limits on who may lawfully own and carry such weapons. Yet we are the most armed nation on earth. With nine guns for every ten U.S. citizens, only Yemen, at seven guns per citizen, comes even close. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, since 1968 more than one million people in the United States have been killed with guns (accidents and suicides included). Is it any wonder that the majority of mass shootings happen in the United States? Is it surprising that we lead the world in gun deaths and homicides?

And yet, there are risks associated with a toxic political culture. Regardless of Loughner’s political influences and motives – his political views appear undisciplined and non-sensical, influenced perhaps by a variety of fringe ideologies – it would do us no harm to tone down our rhetoric, to refrain from speech that blames and accuses, that treats our opponents as not just wrong but evil, and instead discover words of hope and understanding. While ugly political rhetoric and acts of incivility in politics have been a part of the body politic since our early history, the consequences of our words and images are today more far reaching and fall on the rational and irrational, the sane and insane alike. What has changed is technology – cable television, the internet, and a 24-hour news cycle. “What’s different about this moment,” according to Matt Bai of the New York Times, “is the emergence of a political culture — on blogs and Twitter and cable television — that so loudly and readily reinforces the dark visions of political extremists, often for profit or political gain.” Whatever Loughner’s politics, “it’s hard not to think he was at least partly influenced by a debate that often seems to conflate philosophical disagreement with some kind of political Armageddon.”

I do not believe that the tragedy in Tucson was the direct result of irresponsible political rhetoric. But if the horrific events of last Saturday shock the American conscience into more thoughtful and respectful discourse, if it forces our schools and communities to better address mental health issues, if it awakens us to the need for more restrictive gun laws, then it will have left a positive legacy on our nation’s history. Solving our economic, political, and military problems is hard work that requires careful deliberation, compromise and discipline. It cannot be achieved with angry denunciations and the demonization of our opponents. Nor does it serve our nation to lay blame on our opponents for the acts of a disturbed man beyond our control. Anger is easy; empathy, understanding, and compassion requires personal strength and discipline. We must learn, as Jim Wallis writes in Sojourners, “to relate to others with whom we disagree on important issues without calling them evil” and understand that our words “fall upon the balanced and unbalanced, stable and unstable, the well-grounded and the unhinged, alike.”