As Americans, we have a civic duty and responsibility to protect the freedoms that this country was founded upon. At its core, this original foundation is based upon the equality of all humans – the belief that every human being is created in the image of God, meaning that everyone has worth and value that cannot be taken away. Yet, it’s also an understanding that we are fallen humans and capable of much evil just as much as we are capable of incredible good. This two-fold view is what made America different from every prior form of government. However, in our current society, this freedom and original foundation rests in a perilous place as we have begun to spend all our energy pinpointing the flaws and finding ways to discredit others instead of admiring the good and praising the heroic. Don’t turn a blind eye to the hurt, pain, and injustice of our nation and our world. In this episode, Thane Marcus Ringler shifts the focus on liberty and equality for all as a beacon of hope.
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Liberty: A Beacon Of Hope
This is all about learning how to live a good life. Unpacking what that means based our mantra of living with intention in the tension. We’re striving to live with intentionality through the daily tensions that we face in life. It’s a hard thing, this thing called life. It’s a journey and we think the best way to journey down this path is with intention in our daily lives. The best way to do that isn’t community. I would love for you to help support us. We can’t do this without your help and some of the easiest ways to do that that we would appreciate is leaving a rating and review on iTunes. Super short, simple is an awesome way to help us just get found by others.
The second easiest way is simply sharing this with one or two people in your community or your life that you think could benefit from it. If it’s something that you think a broader group could benefit from posting it online and sharing it with your community is such an awesome way to pass the word along. We would appreciate it and it’d be so helpful. I am doing a shorter solo episode. We do interviews, we do fellowship, which are more peer-to-peer conversations and we do a few solo episodes where I get to share some thoughts I’ve been stewing on. This is definitely one of those I’ve been stewing on for a while.
The first thought is a quote by Nelson Mandela. He said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that enhances the freedom of others.” I thought that’s such a beautiful quote because freedom isn’t about us. It’s about each other, those around us. I’ve been feeling a tug on my heart and more of a calling or just a prodding towards the arena of civic duty or civic responsibility. What does that mean? Civic participation is defined as any individual or group activity that’s addressing issues of public concern. I think that’s a much more helpful way to frame a conversation than to say politics because like a lot of the conversations and the word politics, they are triggering things for people in society and world and for good reason.
Equality For All
That’s what I’m going to share a few thoughts on and I’m curious to know what you think. Definitely send us an email at TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com. I always love hearing your thoughts. I’ve felt this tug towards civic duty to civic responsibility to sharing some encouragements on that front. To give a little summary of what I’m going to share in a broader spectrum, this is the summation of it at its core. It’s returning to what America is founded on. The original foundation of America is based upon the equality of all humans. It’s the belief that every human being is created in the image of God. Everyone has worth and value that cannot be taken away. Yet it’s also an understanding that we are fallen humans and capable of much evil just as much as we are capable of incredible good.
This two-fold view is what made America different from every prior form of government. Yet it has increasingly become the norm across the world as other nations have begun and continued to adopt these ideas since America’s formation. In our society, this freedom and original foundation rests in a perilous place. We have begun to spend all our energy pinpointing the flaws and finding ways to discredit others instead of admiring the good and praising the heroic in each other. What we place our focus on will inevitably perpetuate more of the same, which is why an over-emphasis on the downfalls of humans is fueling a downward spiral for us. The answer isn’t in turning a blind eye to the hurt, to the pain, to the injustice of our nation in our world. It is in refocusing on what we can be united around as a people group.
What I would say our civic duty and responsibility is, which is the freedom and equality for all. That’s the summary. I want to expound on that because there’s so much more to be said. I want to frame this just to help us all remove the walls that we put up when we hear the word politics or we think about America or we think about civic duty and responsibility. There is a quote by Morgan Housel who said, “Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. We’re all biased to our own personal history.” I say that quote to help encourage us to examine our biases and ask whether they’re helpful or hurtful in these situations. I think it’s true that we all have them and that’s okay.
It’s not good or bad. They’re very neutral because the part of being human and how we use them can be helpful or hurtful. Benjamin Franklin also said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” One of the books that were inspiring to me for all of this thought process was Eric Metaxas’s book If You Can Keep It. I can’t recommend it enough. It was a phenomenal read and helpful. He brings out these three layers of what allows freedom to exist and virtue is one of them. I think the first question to ask is what does it mean to be an American? This is a question that isn’t asked enough, especially within the younger generations including our own.We are fallen humans and capable of much evil just as much as we are capable of incredible good. Click To Tweet
Our Civic Duty
I’ve been feeling a serious tug on my heart to walk into more civic responsibility beginning and having more conversations around what our civic duty or responsibility is. I’ve listened to Benjamin Franklin’s biography. I’ve read a book on The Lessons of History, which is phenomenal. I recommend that by Will and Ariel Durant, to watching the Hamilton Musical, and Eric Metaxas’ book, If You Can Keep It. There’s just been a lot of inspiration. Hearing the heroic stories of many of the people who have allowed and sacrifice for this nation to be possible has led to almost a growing sense of my own responsibility and furthering the conversation with our generations. What does it mean to be American?
I believe the simplest way to say it is it means to be a part of a nation that believes in something more. It believes in something beyond themselves and is willing to sacrifice in the now in order to preserve that something more, especially for the generations to come. What is that something more? It’s the foundational belief. All humans have worth and value that no one can take away. Yet this belief is tapered with the understanding that we as humans are capable of self-destruction. We must establish boundaries that help preserve our ability to afford everyone’s freedom unconditionally. This is what the core of what America founded upon. It has been the most successful social experiment this world has ever seen onto where we find ourselves in the context. As a nation, I think it’s easy to make the case being one of the most divided times our nation has ever seen in any era of peace within our country’s history.
Unity Versus Uniformity
Metaxas points out that ever since the Vietnam War in the ‘60s, our emphasis within our cultural narrative has shifted from a focus on the heroic, on the good, the noble, and the honorable characteristics of the people we strive to be toward an emphasis on the dishonorable, the divisive, and the inevitable flaws that every human possesses. Over those 50 plus years since that shift was made, our language, focus, and our disapproving eye have continued to spiral downward to the point we find ourselves now, a place near the precipice of self-destruction. Even that comment, I cringe at because it’s perpetuating more of that emphasis. I use it to hopefully bring some sense of urgency to our minds as we think about this dilemma. The question I’ve been pondering is how can we shift the cultural narrative? How can we shift it to the positive? How can we start bringing the momentum back towards unity and not uniformity?
This is an important distinction because unity is not uniformity. There is such incredible beauty in diversity, yet the only way we can create unity amidst diversity is through love, not the feeling-based love but the action-based love. A real love that chooses to prefer the other over the self. A true love that sacrifices for something beyond yourself and that gets us to what I believe the answer is. That leads us to what the answer is. What Eric shared in his book, which I would argue as the answer is returning to a love for America. The America that our nation was originally founded to be. A place where every human has worth and value, also known as Inalienable Rights. That with this freedom, they should have the ability to self-govern.
What Perspective Is
We are all capable of this type of love and unity but it will never happen by chance. It is love and unity that must be individually fought for one day and one person at a time on an individual level. On a practical sense to highlight how simple this can be, I want to think a little bit about what perspective is. In a broader sense, our individual perspective is also known as our worldview and this is our default perspective that is often run by our subconscious mind and is informed by two things. First, our life experiences thus far and second, our inherited tendencies from birth or genetics. Hence, this is why we all have so many drastically different worldviews and perspectives on a broader level. The other side of perspective is the present moment of each day in our lives.
There’s the broader worldview perspective and then there’s the situational perspective as I call it. The simpler view of situational perspective can be defined as how you see yourself, each other and the world. It is the lens through which you interpret your daily interactions and circumstances. The beauty of perspective is that there’s always more than one perspective to be had. It’s never singular. It is something that is entirely within your control. There are very few things in life that are 100% in your control. The weather is not in your control. Taxes aren’t in your control largely. The sun rising, the moon rising, the financial markets aren’t in your control, sometimes traffic lights. All these things are not in your control, but perspective is something that you have 100% control over.Our civic duty and responsibility is freedom and equality for all. Click To Tweet
The example that I had to learn growing up was in golf. My dad shared a phrase with me that has stuck with me because when you grew up playing golf in Kansas, the wind is always blowing. When the wind is blowing, golf is not very much fun. The tendency when the wind is blowing in Kansas and you have to play golf is to be frustrated, upset and you view the wind as your enemy. It’s the hurtful force that’s trying to prevent you from putting up a good score in golf. He would always say, “Son, the wind is your friend.” I’m like, “Dad, it’s not. That’s stupid. The wind is not my friend. It’s not helping me. It’s hurting me. It’s frustrating me. It’s annoying. It’s loud.”
The more I played golf in the wind, the more I started to understand what my dad was saying. He’s saying that whether I viewed the wind as my enemy or as my friend, it had zero effect on the wind. The wind would still do what it’s going to do. How I viewed that wind did have a large impact on my golf performance on the course. When I viewed it as my enemy, I didn’t play as well. When I started viewing it as my friend, as my ally, as a fun part of the process of playing golf, I started to enjoy it and I started to play better golf. This is the power of perspective. The way we view the wind doesn’t change it but there are two different views of that wind.
Our Role As Americans
It’s the same as viewing a room from one window in one corner of the room versus another window or the front door. It’s a completely different view but it’s still the same room. Also, the classic example of the glass being half full versus half empty. The glass with the water in it does not change, but the way we see it does. This is the simplistic situational perspective that we have 100% control over. To tie this back into our role as Americans, I believe our role is to take back the power of perspective. How we see our nation and each other is 100% within our control. I believe it is our civic duty to stop perpetuating divisive and negative perspectives that only highlight the flaws and ignore the good found in each other.
When you stop that and when you start believing, we need to start believing in the higher calling that our country was founded upon. The calling to give up something now in order to preserve and promote a greater human flourishing for all and for those who are to inhabit this country in the generations to come. When we believe in this greater vision, we can then have the ability to acknowledge the flaws but not fixate on them. To see them fight to remedy them, but also call ourselves and each other to a higher standard. This is the mindset of empowerment versus the mindset of diminishment that aims to belittle, devalue, and demean each other because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We as a generation get the chance. We have the opportunity to be a catalyst for this change that we wish to see.
We can all be united around the fact that it is a growing problem that will not magically disappear. The disunity and discord is only speeding up. If it is going to change, it is up to us on an individual level to live the change out in our own lives with the individuals within our own communities. When we all commit to the simple step of living this truth out, that is how we begin to shift the momentum within our culture and our society over time. It will take time but we must know and trust that it is worth the fight. When I was thinking through this and sharing my heart about America as we see it, I realize that this is being released the same day as that fateful fall morning of September 11, several years ago. One of the most tragic moments of our nation’s history took place in one of the most storied cities in the world.
This horrendous event was within eyesight of the beacon of hope that we all would do well to pause and remember. This is none other than the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty as she is known, this is the beacon of hope we must remember. It is the hope of liberty, which is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior or political views. This freedom is only preserved when we live out of love. Love is only possible through a sacrifice because love is ultimately preferring someone else. For America to be united, we must be each individually committed to leading with love and sacrificing our wants in the moment for the needs of our future. Each person has a crucial role to play and that includes you. Are you willing to rise to the occasion? The time is now, friends. Let us spread the beacon of hope in this world and preserve this gift of the land of the free and the home of the brave. We are so blessed to live in this nation. I pray that we can do our part in preserving and promoting this blessing.
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