January 24, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      "I have an idea." How dangerous are those words?

      No progress ever occurred, anywhere, unless they were first uttered by someone. Often, when someone pipes-up with that declaration, there is an inevitable response from one or more listeners: "I have a better idea." What follows is - in the healthiest of settings - discussion. If those ideas are held with passion, that discussion may even rise to the level of debate.

      If the decision between ideas will be made by popular vote, the debate between ideas will accelerate to the level of a campaign. Ultimately, the broad community is made up of - in majority - followers. Followers listen to the ideas of those who would prefer to lead; when the debates recede, the votes are tallied. In the best of situations, the best ideas win ... or, at least, the ones presented in the most-compelling manner. We have a term for that: it's called democracy.

      Pretty interesting stuff, this "democracy" business. It presumes that people with ideas - and the plans to back 'em up - will conduct their communications with a modicum of morality. Rather than holding a gun to someone's head to elicit agreement, they will put the ideas out there on the table, let the common man compare them alongside the competition, and let them come to their own conclusions. What kind of system would say to the electorate, "Come to the table to choose between the ideas ... and we'll blow you and the table to smithereens." Not that farfetched: that's what terrorist bombers are doing - as you read - in Iraq.

      In this 21st Century of ours, the people with ideas are no longer limited to "the sound of their voice" for a hearing. With digital uplinks and satellite communications, one person's ideas can echo across the world's time zones; commentators can be delivering their opinions on the ideas faster than Dominos could deliver a pizza ordered during the speech. Within minutes, the reaction to an idea can be trumpeted more broadly than the initial idea was heard! Evidence? I hadn't even heard Bush's inaugural address yet ... and I caught the commentator's raucous response: "Bad Ideas!"

      From Thursday to now, the tsunami of cynicism is building. There is a consistent word reverberating among the folks with opposing opinions (a nice way to say "the press"). What is the word? Catch this: it's messianic. What they dub "the Bush Doctrine" has been labeled "messianic," and that not in positive tones. Google "messianic" and "arrogant" and see how many results you get ... in commentaries concerning Bush II.

      If one did not have a preconceived opinion about the presenter, how would these words be heard? "From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time." May I paraphrase? "Other people, in other places, have other ideas about life and liberty ... but our idea is better, and we're prepared to act as if it is ..."

      President George Herbert Walker Bush recognized that his bid for a second term was thwarted by "that vision thing" (he was perceived as a man without ideas). President George W. Bush was awarded a second term ... at least in part because a simple majority heard - and, agreed with - his ideas. Vision ...

      Interesting how people can be violently opposed to someone who believes that they have a better idea. Messianic? You betcha. The Lord Jesus Christ drew fire from people who had their own ideas ... and had no interest in His. His ideas were pretty radical: mankind was mired in sin and death, and no solutions to that sentence were humanly possible. God in His grace sent His Son - the Messiah, in fact - to live, love, die and rise ... all in the name of a Better Idea: what He calls "the Gospel." No gun-to-the-head ... just an offer to forgive sin and grant eternal life. Take it or leave it ... it competes with lesser ideas for acceptance.

      What do you call a person who believes he has a better idea ... and is willing to do something about it? How about "a leader?"

Bob Shank


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