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Location: Takoma Park, Maryland, United States

I'm now a 52-year-old American male raised as an Episcopalian, veteran of submarines, Peace Corps, and State Department. I like teaching people about what they can do with computers and have gotten by as an independent Microsoft trainer teaching networking, but I really hope to someday find a way to make a living traveling on my motorcycle, camping, and writing about places and people I meet along the way.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Shame

Riding the motorcycle is a bit like meditation, at times. The fact that you have to pay attention to the road, and generally do not have a radio or a companion or a cell phone to distract you, seems to prevent me from mulling over work problems and the general neurosis of daily life.

Yesterday, I met a new house mate on the second floor. I found myself speaking a thought that I've had for some time. If you think that Bush is as bad as his critics say he is, then the really scary thing is that America elected him. The new housemate, a student of political science who has studied Alexis de Tocqueville and wonders whether our democracy is reaching the end of its life-cycle.

It brought up an idea for a bumper sticker that had been knocking around in my mind. It would just say, "We elected him?"

Today on the ride I had another thought, a bumper sticker that just says, "Shame!"

Obviously, somebody who does not like Bush would use them together. I think I could sell a few. If you do so, be sure to send me the royalty check.

That took me to the next step of thinking theologically about it. At first I looked critically at our current administration.

"Do they have no shame?" I asked myself, then continued...

"...and somebody should explain to them that righteousness has nothing to do with what others do with their lives, but what each of us does with our own."

Wasn't that Jesus's message "Do not judge lest ye be judged," and the bit about not worrying about the splinter in someone else's eye when there is a mote in ones own.

Then of course I turned that lens on myself. Here I was criticising them, in my mind. What about myself? The things they would point at that I should be ashamed of, in their minds. The question is whether I would feel ashamed of them. It occurred to me that it might be important for discernment to note whether or not we have the capacity to feel shame. Have we entirely lost our moral compass? Have I? When was the last time I felt shame for something... even a mistake? Okay, I can think back over the last year and realize that I'm not entirely without shame.

But what about us as a nation? Do we pretend that we are perfect? Do we worship a God of truth, before whom it stands to reason some sense of shortcoming would always be appropriate? Or, do we worship our own strength?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What in the hell are you talking about?

4:42 PM  

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