Thursday, April 2, 2009

Who are the Good Guys?

I grew up believing that the "good guys" always win. First, we won the American Revolution, freeing ourselves from the tyranny of Great Britain. Next, the North beat the South in the Civil War ending the evils of slavery. The U.S. won WWI and WWII defeating Germany and Hitler, the epitome of "bad guys." Then the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1955 World Series and I knew for sure the world was a fair place. Everything seemed clear in those days. The movies always had happy endings and I believed that I would meet the girl of my dreams and find a job I loved that would make me rich.

I look at it a little differently now. I am not always sure: who are the good guys? When the stock market goes up does this mean that the good guys are winning? Are the democrats really the good guys, as my father totally believes? Does it really matter what party is in charge? When we outsource tens of thousands of jobs to India and China are the good guys the ones who want to keep the work here, at home; or are they the ambitious, efficient, and reliable workers who are capable of doing the work for less money? Are the good guys the ones who preach the Gospel of Jesus and the requirement to "Love our Neighbors?"; or are they the ones who warn us against the evils of superstitious belief systems?

Are the good guys the ones who want to do whatever it takes to keep America safe including torture and limit our rights to privacy, or are they the ones who protest against war even when our enemies are clearly evil and want to destroy us?

What about Global Warming? Are the good guys the ones who want to save our planet and protect our environment; or are they the ones who want to protect us from overreacting and overspending to unproven theories or speculation?

I am not sure we can divide the world into good guys and bad guys. I am not even sure that we can determine who is right or wrong on many of the issues facing our planet today. When you listen carefully, both sides usually make very powerful arguments supporting their point of view. We can't predict the future; if we are honest we must admit that we really don't know the right course of action in many cases.

I think the good guys today are the ones who are interested in doing two things: promoting personal freedom and eliminating pain and suffering.

I think the good guys are the one who are willing to keep their mind open to both sides of an issue, who approach a problem not with the goal of convincing others that they are right but whose primary motivation is to explore the question with objectivity and sincerity.

In some cases it is clear what is right, but in most cases it is not so clear. This does not mean that we should do nothing or not move forward unless we are sure what to do. What it does mean is that we must always be open to the possibility that we may not be right, that many things are not the way they seem to be, and sometimes we need to do the exact opposite of what we have done in the past. It is only through flexibility, willingness to change, and openness to admitting that we are wrong that we can navigate the complexities of today's challenging world.

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