My friend HP has a new post up about a joke that he morphs into an unsubstantiated smear on Glenn Beck, and his 8/28 rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Abandoning the certainty which made the smear appropriate, he asks:
What does Beck mean by honor?
I suppose the first step is to ask him…and if you can’t ask him, you can do the next best thing and plug the keywords into youtube:
Talking about holding up examples of honorable people…Washington, Adams, Jefferson…
And of course, he actually tells us…
Doing the right thing when everybody tells you not to do it.
Doing the right thing when it goes against your interests.
Doing the right thing when nobody will ever notice.”
I suppose it would be wonderful if it stopped there, but I listen to him for 45 minutes to an hour on my way into work in the morning. (I’ve seen the show enough to know that sometimes, it recycles some of the radio show, and sometimes, he has a specific focus he doesn’t address as deeply on the radio, but seeing as I’m at work when it’s on in the afternoon here, and it doesn’t repeat until 11 pm here on the Left Coast, I don’t often watch it.) That daily experience means that I understand that he also sees us as having a problem with our moral compass as a nation because we don’t have God at the center of our lives, as an overwhelming majority, including the Founders and the Framers once did. He’s talked at length, drawing on the words of these men, as well as their accomplishments to demonstrate that their beliefs translated into virtues, and gave them character, rather than a lack of virtues making them characters. He’s done this with his eyes open to the fact that they couldn’t ignore, namely that they were still men, regardless of their achievements and intellect, but this knowledge is to keep them human, rather than to delight in their failings. And he’s reflected on the fact that because of their beliefs, even these men of titanic deeds understood that their accomplishments did not belong to them alone, and that none of it would be possible without the actions of God, however they acknowledged him and his role, be it “Almighty God”, “The Sovereign Ruler of the World”, “Divine Providence”, or “Nature’s God.” And he has always taken great pains to acknowledge his own failings, including drug abuse, battling the bottle, and a broken marriage. I would be hard-pressed to think of another media personality who has been as forthright about “the bad parts”, and the fact that he believes that his current sobriety is not about his ability to overcome as it was the power of his faith to lift him up. Regardless of whether or not you buy into his belief that the current spiritual inanition is a contributing factor to our current predicament, a lot of people look at our government today, and don’t feel that there is much worthy of respect or emulation.
How was that honor lost?
Again, the theory that he has set forth is that we started to lose it when we lost the humility and respect to God that was inherent in the concept of Divine Providence and let it morph in to Manifest Destiny. When we no longer acknowledged that our blessings were bestowed because of the respect paid to God, and instead took them for granted, and committed tragic acts because we believed it was our right to do so, and started to bury the history we couldn’t rewrite, because it did not favor this mindset. And of course, once you start taking these blessings for granted, it is a short step to the place where you start to believe that your accomplishments are your own, and you have no need for God, or the virtues that reporting to a higher authority will instill in you. You become answerable only to yourself, and you become the beginning and the end of wisdom. This has not served us well, and we have come to embrace something ugly and unworthy of the nation we were born to be. We are impassioned about saving the trees and animals, but sleep untroubled in the midst of an ongoing slaughter of human babies. Our leaders grant themselves generous salaries, luxuriant travel, the best liquor, and partake of lucrative “business” opportunities when they pretend to work for us. And when their behavior can no longer be tolerated, they can “retire” with generous pensions and health care that exceeds that of their employers, “We the people”, by unfathomable degrees. Public Service, which once was a sacrifice undertaken as a duty, has become a career path, which cannot avoid making it about the desires of the politicians rather than the will of the constituents. What once was endured as miserable obligation keeping one from a career, from the maintenance of property, and the comfort of family, for meager pay, and miserable living conditions has become a coveted sinecure, where ambition and avarice can be fed in equal measure, and more time, effort, and attention is focused on the almighty re-election bid than on conducting the people’s business. Think I’m wrong? Ask your Representative or Senator how much time they put into reading the health care bill, and then ask them how much time they spent going to, attending, and coming back from fundraisers and campaign appearances in the last three weeks.
How does he plan on restoring it?
He doesn’t. He knows he isn’t the poster child for virtue or character. He doesn’t believe that making this happen is his job, which I think is a relief to him. As I said earlier, his life is an open book, and he’s already a favorite lightning rod for the smear merchants of the left. If he tried to carry this message himself, it would be completely obscured by the media circus falling all over itself in the attempt to make sure their accusations and derisions would come out much louder than his words. His whole plan was to offer an alternative…to demonstrate that we cannot expect our leaders to have what too many of us lack as individuals, and that if we expect to put it back into government, we must first put it into ourselves. As long as we hold the wrong values, we will get the self-dealing, tax-cheating, narcistic leaders that curse the corridors of power and act as though they are entitled to the trappings of office, regardless of the cost or the damage. It was an invitation to consider what we as a nation were born to, what we turned away from, and what we could commit to as individuals. As one man he could do nothing; but as thousands, we could change ourselves, and those around us, and those around us could change those around them. And the best part is that this wouldn’t require collective demonstrations, and it doesn’t demand that government do anything or give us anything.
Much like HP believes that we wouldn’t like the metaphor that constitutes his smear, I don’t imagine he’ll think much of this response. I base this on the fact that he has never disguised his contempt for Beck. That’s fine. I happen to believe that the answer doesn’t matter nearly as much to him as the pretense underlying the questions. You see, the answer was easily discoverable, even for a busy professor. And the form in which it was presented was a series of questions bookended by a nasty-minded joke and a conclusion casting the subject with the same dishonorable intentions. Manure may help roses to grow, but it is still a flower in manure. I guess I missed the part in school where the art of character assasination was taught as an intellectual pursuit. Maybe he could win over our betters if he would simply do the whole show in his tweed jacket, and holding a pipe while talking about how much smarter he is.
In considering my answer, I spent some time in the Bible reading about honor, and I found a few verses that I think actually dovetail into a few of the issues regarding honor that Beck has been discussing for a while.
On the attitudes underlying Divine Providence:
Proverbs 15:33: The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.
On the drift into Manifest Destiny and the belief in national entitlement:
Proverbs 29:32: A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor.
On the current propensity to mock and ridicule attempts to infuse oneself with a sense of accountablity to a higher standard than pleasing oneself:
Job 2:9: Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
On the constant attacks, smears, and obvious disapprovals of the left and the legacy media (but I repeat myself) toward Beck:
Matthew 13:57: So they were offended at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”