We meltdown or wind down at 2009's end. We've hit speed bumps that annoy, even jolt, but lead to needed slowdowns and lifesaving stops in our personal and national lives. Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid said: "Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.'" Reid intended to denounce, but let's ponder his unintended wisdom.
Many try to reshape history, making analogies weighted in their own favor. Reid compared questioners of the healthcare proposals to defenders of slavery and opponents of civil rights. That is political bombast. Religious leaders do the same when they equate women seeking ministry with homosexuals demanding ordination. Each issue is separate, demanding pause for truthful evaluation, not rush to redo or worsen mistakes.
John Knox, 16th century Scottish Protestant reformer, regularly butted heads with political and religious establishments. Yet, he stated: "You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time." Perhaps he saw his role as healthy participation in mankind's affairs, battling for better education and help for the poor, but others viewed him as a stumbling block to their plans. Knox did antagonize and did influence at the same time.
President Obama gave himself a B-plus report card for this year's work. Conservative political watchdog Gary Bauer averaged him a D-minus. Public grading rises and falls with personal agendas. Dissension tires us but may delay or block worse things.
A donkey carried occult prophet Balaam on a paid, political journey to curse what God blessed (Numbers 22). Seeing an angel with drawn sword, the burro slowed for the speed bump and stopped. In a hurry and blind to danger, Balaam beat the animal until it lay down, an early filibuster. The unscheduled standstill saved the man's life.
Another donkey carried the burden with which we end our year, the Christ of Christmas. Regardless of what that means to each of us, it is there, a speed bump meant to slow the president, the Congress, business, and individuals: a "timeout."
"Desperate times call for desperate measures" can mean speed-up or slowdown. Knowing which? Priceless. Sending more troops to Afghanistan while a current Pew Poll finds 49 percent of Americans turning toward isolationism? Investigating "Climategate" while global warming continues? Passing unread and unclear healthcare legislation? Urging shoppers to spend more as the government's debt ceiling rises and 50 percent of the CEO's project no change in the employment picture for the next six months?
Publishers are delaying e-book production until hardcovers have time to sell. If the readers want to pay less, they'll have to wait. The Florida Legislature is delaying approval of a specialty license plate requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Postponement may yet discourage the canonization of the Civil War.
An anonymous thief just returned a book, stolen in 1949, to a Toledo, Ohio, library: "I apologize. It's an excellent book and in good condition." Some things need time.
'Tis the season to acknowledge speed bumps, slow down, and maybe even stop.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.