Linda Downing

Don't sell out your principles for legacy

Sooner or later, we will sell out to something. Earth does not lack things to woo us. If we cannot correctly interpret the world's mixed signals, we might as well wear a sign that says "For Sale to the Highest Bidder." That mentality did not build but could tear down America. "Stand your ground" means more than the right to use a weapon when life is threatened. It includes standards like integrity and honesty and the ability to admit wrongdoing and genuinely ask for forgiveness. The current vogue of individuals apologizing for things like slavery, or even of corporate leaders or the president wearing that righteous fašade of "I didn't do anything wrong but I will accept responsibility because the buck stops here," rings hollow. President Obama promised repeatedly that ObamaCare would allow people to keep their health care plans. Some are finding that is not the case. Was the president deliberately lying? It is surprising that ultra-conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly doesn't think so. He says Obama believed what he said and lacked the leadership for follow through and detail. Whether or not O'Reilly's take is true, the president's original promises must be kept or it is a sell-out of the most dangerous kind, the kind where a person of power believes his own "lies" as truths. That leads to stripping citizens of rights, convincing them that "I [the government] know what you need better than you do." That leads to the end justifies the means. That leads to supporting citizens who would rather someone else does their thinking for them.
Responsibility feels less confining in general than in particular. We seek answered prayers as long as we are not part of the answers. Jesus told the religious people of the day that paying their temple dues (tithes, donations) was no substitute for helping, not selling out, their needy parents. He called them "hypocrites" and their worship "vain" (Matthew 15:3-9). In a September Conde Nast Traveler piece Christopher Bagley visited a tiny island where his black guide pointed him to an area and said that was where "the colored people live." Bagley concluded that "colored" means "the opposite of oneself." We are all "colored" to someone. We sell out when we automatically and unthinkingly come down on the side of those like ourselves or the issues that only benefit us. Ruth Sims, the oldest female WWII veteran alive today, recently turned 105. Most are eager to ask her secret for longevity, something she has been too busy to give much thought. She does claim to know the secret of happiness: ".treat others as you would want them to treat you." Ah, the Golden Rule, a universal principle, is connected to something most want - to live a long, productive life. Yet, we continue to sell out to a youth-oriented culture. An October global study revealed that the nations in general are not ready to care for an aging population, a group who will outnumber children under 15 by 2050. The United States ought to be first among the nations in preparedness but comes in eighth. Neither the president nor we citizens should sell out principles for legacy. We need to do the right thing now. No earthly kingdom will last. Nations are as transient as their individuals, all one breath away from eternity - God's legacy - the only thing worth selling out for. Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side. Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at