Flaws are no cause for rejection

>> Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hello all,

I came across an excellent “common sense” article today by Thomas Kidd titled “The Tea Party, Fundamentalism, and the Founding”. In it, he responses to several attacks on the Tea Party leveled by Jill Lepore in her new book “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History”. It’s an interesting read (and not long) so I recommend that you take a few minutes for reading it.

For the purposes of this post I would like to highlight the final paragraph of Mr. Kidd’s article:

But Lepore wants us to stare the hard facts in the face: the Founders denied the basic rights of citizenship to the majority of Americans, especially slaves. She implies that because the Founders were flawed people, bound by their place and time, we can learn almost nothing from them. "Thank goodness, the eighteenth century is over," Lepore says in her acknowledgements. Surely we all agree that the leaders of our Revolution were products of a culture that was morally faulty, just as our own society is. But entirely dismissing the wisdom of that age throws out the very principles -- especially the notion that "all men are created equal" -- that helped us move past the limitations of the Founding. Thinking that you can learn something from the past does not make you a fundamentalist.”

I think his point is very important. To reject outright the collective and individual wisdom of a world changing generation on the basis that they were immensely flawed human beings is to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. People are always products of their times and need to be evaluated in that light.

Our Founding Fathers were extraordinary people in many respects. They are largely (if not primarily) responsible for changing the world for the better by adopting a new philosophy, theology and worldview of government and social structure. However, they were deeply flawed. They did not live out their own ideas and principles as well as they could have or should have. Nonetheless, they laid a foundation and planted seeds that would effectively move future generations in a direction that would more fully realize the noble principles pioneered by our Founding Fathers and Mothers.

For that, we should honor them, and thank them, but we also must realistically evaluate them in light of their imperfections and times. I for one have no problem saying on one hand “Our Founding Fathers planted the tree of freedom and pioneered an unrivaled political and social philosophy and I honor them for that” and on the other hand proclaiming “Our Founding Fathers unjustly enslaved and stripped of their full due dignity thousands upon thousands of their fellow man”. That is no contradiction; that is realistically acknowledging mans capacity to work great good while also engaging in great evil and differentiating between the two.

History is full of such man and women. I marvel at how much good can be accomplished by flawed human beings and take great comfort in knowing that God can use an imperfect vessel to accomplish His good will.

God bless and veritas supra omnis!


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