John Livingston

Critical Thinking & Moral Leadership

Every week I receive many e-mails about my Gem State Patriot Posts. I don’t even know how people got my e-mail address, but I very much appreciate the instructive, constructive, and even destructive criticisms. One of my best critics is a cross country truck driver named Bill and he said I was getting too negative and dark. I by nature am a very optimistic person and I am even optimistic about the future of our country. We will soon all be witness to another “GREAT AWAKENING” I am worried however, that not enough people are engaged in the political process. When that happens, it becomes easier for the process to become manipulated by the politicians. Think about the timing of school board elections or some of the taxing districts. We are making headway regarding the consolidation of elections in Idaho, but the teachers unions and schoolboards try to leverage an advantage by placing bond issues before the public when there is little upside ballot interest in getting to the polls.

Yesterday I heard from the pulpit a Pastor say that he was becoming so “beaten down” by the political noise that he just turned it all off. What an absolute shame. Politics should not be preached from the pulpit, but our faith should inform all aspects of our lives—including our political philosophies. The problem with the news—local or national, is that it isn’t news, but many times a political narrative is presented, and the viewer is abused because news is really “opinion”. The problem for the everyday citizen is that they have not been given the critical thinking skills to discern the difference and those critical thinking skills are inversely related to the time they spend in college. Regurgitation of a professor’s ideas becomes the road to a good recommendation to grad or professional school. Mass confirmation bias in the classroom is easy to enforce when a GPA is at stake. Two hundred years ago our faith defined the culture and culture defined our politics. People with the equivalent of an elementary education were well grounded in Biblical history, The Classical history of Rome and Greece, and the philosophies of the Enlightenment fathers.

“Presentism” is the belief that only present-day phenomena and events are relevant and of importance. Emotionalism is its’ second cousin. The process of deductive and inductive reasoning—which is a learned discipline, is replaced by “feelings”. I believe part of our problem today is that people are not planning in their days’ time to pray, contemplate situations, read the Bible, and then maybe pray a little more. When time is compressed, we only have time to react and many times we react poorly. Instead of reacting with well-constructed arguments with a Biblical or historical predicate, we support our political beliefs with ad hominem calumnies and harsh rhetoric—racist. bigot, sexist, misogynist, MAGA, or the worst—CHRISTIAN.

The message from our religious leaders should always be one of Hope and love; forgiveness and redemption. We are all sinners—especially me, and we seek God’s love and forgiveness The message from the pulpit should be couched in the knowledge that there are Providential (transcendental) truths and prudential (transactional) truths. Ninety percent of politics involves the latter, but it is the 10%of Providential truths, the sanctity of all life and the uniqueness of life, that informs issues like abortion and the “debate of our times” sexual vs gender identity, and individual security. Coercion by force and “free will” and liberty also informs the economic debate. From what moral or economic predicate do progressives come from when defending their positions on the great “Providential” issues of our time? We can all agree that we need to fight poverty and disagree about how it should be fought—the sages and the prophets have some ideas by the way about the issue of poverty. We can all agree that we need a military to defend our country, but how many “nukes” and jets do we need is a prudential debate? The answer—enough to make any bad guy know that we would win easily—Ronald Reagan taught us about deterrence when he won the biggest war ever fought without firing a shot or killing a combatant or civilian—along with the help of Maggie Thatcher and the good Pope John Paul II.

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To the Ministers and Priests who walk the tight- rope of not trying to hurt any of their congregates or parishioners’ feelings, I say are you not the “leader of your flocks”?. Are you yourselves not informed enough to teach or are you just lacking the courage and are you afraid of being unpopular? You weren’t called to your profession to be “successful, you were called to be faithful.” (Mother Teresa). Preach God’s Word. Address the Providential issues up front.

I say the same thing to my political leaders. Let me know what the moral predicate is for your political philosophy—or is it just feelings? How do you exercise your judgement when Providential issues are involved? Prayer, Biblical reflection and the application of discernment and conscience must be important, and a virtuous people want to know about how you will think and vote on specific issues in this regard.

Governor Little had a wonderful opportunity to exercise “moral leadership” two weeks ago when the Boise Gay Pride Parade was planning some over the top “drag” events for kids. He had an opportunity to address St. Luke’s advertising their gender transitioning programs for adolescents. He had an opportunity in June to make an argument with his Attorney General before a Federal Judge on the legality and Constitutionality of the Idaho abortion “trigger” law. The Texas AG made the argument that Idaho should have made and didn’t and won! We must have had our “B” team on the field that day or maybe those doing the arguing didn’t have a heart for the real argument, so they put up a “False flag” defense.

I want a Governor who will say,” I am against “woke” indoctrination programs. I am against transgender indoctrination programs in public schools. I am against transgender sex change operations in children—who gives informed consent in those cases anyway(?) I am against abortion of little baby boys and girls except in extreme cases of incest and rape and the life of the mother” —there has been one such case in Idaho since 2017 according to Stanton Medicine. I have heard very little from “little Brad” on any of these issues. Maybe he thinks he needs to win the Boise North End, Ada, and Blaine counties to win the election, so he isn’t going to spill any of his “moral beans” until after the election. If that is the case, then he and the TBI crew are in real trouble—not. What good is having moral beans if you can’t spill them at any time? Maybe being true to oneself is less important than getting elected and paying off donor debt with legislative dividends to your friends at IACI, IHA, IMA, IEA, etc… If you don’t spill your moral beans on time—bad things can happen!

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