By Charlie Johnston
I’m going to keep it fairly simple today, to make a point that should be deeply contemplated.
First, I want to direct you to the TNRS Local Connect Link at the black bar at the top of this site. I don’t keep track of these things, but I know of several Next Right Step Groups or Storm Dinners where people get together once a month or more often to pray and talk about how they can help each other – and their neighbors during difficult times. I know that there are groups meeting regularly in New England, Chicago, Miami and San Diego. Of late, we have been getting a lot of inquiries about starting such groups.
The TNRS Local Connect provides a means by which people can get a group started and through which people in running groups can share ideas and information about what works and what doesn’t – and what their experience has been. I don’t get directly involved with this, though I am glad to speak to such groups – in person when possible – or by phone. I like to encourage people who are committed to helping each other and preparing to help neighbors who just did not see disaster coming.
Our TNRS team member J Lynn Byrd is coordinating the project with assistance from Lisa Huber. You can contact either of them at TNRSLocalConnect@gmail.com. Let’s all go be a sign of hope.
Now to the main subject at hand. When contemplating anything, I always try to go back to first things, fundamental principles that, when properly applied, will lead to solid wisdom – and good policy. I hate over-complicated, Rube Goldberg approaches to policy. The more moving parts there are, the more that can go wrong. I like the elegance of simplicity. When you contemplate the universe it is both amazingly complex and amazingly – and elegantly – simple. Some consider muddled chaos to be complexity. It is not. It is just an intellectual garbage heap.
I have long contemplated why command political systems always collapse in shrieking chaos and misery, while free systems, put together well, thrive. More to the point, I contemplate how to explain simply why this is an inevitable result.
Start with the fundamental nature of man. As I have oft said before, if man is created in God’s own image, he is given a share in God’s nature – when he sheds his own fallen nature of vanity and malice. God’s fundamental nature is, through the love that processes among the Persons of the Trinity, to create. Thus man’s fundamental nature is to love and to act as a subordinate creator. He is happiest, most complete, when surrounded with family and friends he loves and is able to enjoy and delight in the work of his own hands – while simultaneously taking delight in the work of others around him. I have a sister-in-law who is the best cook I have ever met. Give her a half an hour and she will whip up some magnificent concoction from whatever ingredients she has at hand. It dazzles me. I have a brother who truly is a tree whisperer. I have been with him several times when he was considering a landscape. His eyes get kind of distant – and you can almost see, certainly feel, that he is seeing what it can be, what it should be, and how to make it so. It is a glorious privilege to see the intimacy of this creative moment that I do not have, but can deeply appreciate. Think of your own family and friends – and how often they dazzle you with the depth of their particular individual talents. I call this a man’s creative capacity. As with God, when one is joyfully immersed in the work of their own hands, it is not so much that they create as that creation falls like ripe fruit from the joy they take in their unique work – and sharing it with those they love.
Consider that one’s God-given creative capacity is his light. When all are joyfully and freely engaged in shining and sharing their light, the world is profoundly illuminated. If this is so, then leadership consists of inspiring people to let their light shine and share it joyfully.
The authoritarians of the anti-God progressive movement are aware of their own light. But they consider any of their lessers who let their light shine to be rivals.
They seek to shut down all light except that of themselves and their fellow travelers. They will be “philanthropists” by sharing some of their light with the poor, benighted folksies – but don’t let those folksies get ideas of their own.
There is no doubt that some lights shine more brightly than others. But even if you take the hundred brightest lights available, then forbid all others, the country will remain in darkness. If, instead, you inspire all to let their light shine, the light will be great indeed. How often, at Vigil Masses, do we have a candle ceremony where each lights a candle in the darkened Church – and within minutes the whole Church is infused with light, all coming from the collective power of a thousand humble candles?
This is the eternal failure of the authoritarians. They fancy themselves bringers of the light, but because of their malicious demand that all others but theirs be quenched, they are ever only masters of darkness. And in their ignorant rage, they berate the very people whose light they have extinguished for the darkness they, themselves impose.
The secret of freedom, of joy, is that 300 million with a candle will produce more light than a hundred people with a floodlight. So participate in the Master’s nature. Let your light shine.
As God said at the beginning, “Let there be light.”