Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Personal Responsibility: A distinctly Mormon teaching…

If there was ever a time for a particular minority trait to be brought to the fore in America it is now.  We, as a culture, have sunk to such a low ebb of expecting others to solve our problems, provide our food, take care of our health, find us a job, teach our kids, and guarantee our safety.  And of course, disciplining our kids is now taboo as is any attempt at condemning immorality. 

We expect government to keep on growing so that it can satisfy our ever-increasing expectations and demands of it. 

The proportion of Americans dependent on some sort of government subsidy, welfare, dole, or salary is nearing 50%.  And this does not include those who expect some sort of government service.  Many suggest our nation is near an irreversible “tipping point” where so many are dependent on government that a majority will insist on its continued growth.  Additional revenue for government will be demanded until its coercive taxing power will become as oppressive as any tyrannical power in history.   At the same time, we have a large and growing portion of our population who pay NO taxes whatsoever.

This points to the plague of a dearth of personal responsibility.

Now enter a group of people into the political spotlight whose faith represents a concept that has become increasingly foreign to too many Americans:

Personal responsibility.

One of the first speakers at the Republican National Convention was Mia Love,   the Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and the Republican Party 2012 nominee in Utah's 4th congressional district.  She is also Mormon and the first black mayor of any Utah city.   Her speech was all about personal responsibility.

Here is a small part of what she said:

“Hope and change is turned into fear and blame. Fear that everybody is going to lose everything and blaming Congress for everything instead of taking responsibility."     

Personal responsibility: A refreshing concept for Americans

And what did she get for her efforts?  Her Wikipedia page was savaged with these comments:

“…dirty worthless whore…house nigger…aunt Tom…”

Next we have Ann Romney, the wife of Mitt, the mother of 5 boys who she most likely raised without the dad being around a whole lot, and the humbling recipient of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, and her miscarriages.

Her speech emphasized her own sense of personal responsibility as a mom and of moms around the country.  By almost all accounts, her speech received high praise, except from one.

Juan Williams, a FOX commentator critiqued her comments with:

"Ann Romney ... looked to me like a corporate wife.  The stories she told about struggles — eh! It's hard for me to believe. I mean, she's a very rich woman, and I know that, and America knows that."

From Huffington Post: 

There was a distinct pause, and then host Bret Baier said, "Wow, OK." Host Megyn Kelly asked, "What does that mean, 'corporate wife?'"

"It looks like a woman whose husband takes care of her, and she's been very lucky and blessed in this life," Williams replied. "...She did not convince me that, you know what? I understand the truggles of American women in general."

“Is that the same speech you heard, Brit?” Baier asked colleague Brit Hume. “I think that was the single most effective political speech I’ve ever heard given by a political wife,” Hume replied, adding, "I think a lot of women could look at her ... and find her utterly admirable and utterly credible."

According to Juan Williams, personal responsibility and hard work do not matter, do not count, if you are successful as a result of it.  Or perhaps Juan was experiencing a fit of passive aggressive racism or jealousy.  I don’t know.

And of course we have the example of Mit Romney.  He exhibited a huge measure of not only personal responsibility and hard work throughout his life but a spirit and practice of giving and helping as well.

Each of these people exhibit the common trait of assuming and promoting personal responsibility.  And the left, the progressives, and the ignorant mock them all for it.

The other thing each of these practitioners and advocates of personal responsibility have in common is that they are all Mormon.  It is no coincidence that their personal values have so much in common.  Their faith teaches and promotes personal responsibility and self-sufficiency as one of their highest ideals – pretty much on the same plane as “cleanliness is next to Godliness.”  One of the expressions they often use as I recall from the time I spent with Mormons is this:

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

This verse from Mormon Scripture is central to their concept of grace.  The unique part of it is “…after all we can do.”  The hard work necessary to endure both the hardships of pioneering as well as the severe persecutions they endured created a great emphasis on their “after all we can do” part of the Scripture.

Mormon theology may not be orthodox, but it sure provides some decent lessons for the rest of us.

Too many of us believe we are saved by grace despite doing nothing.  Doing nothing is as bad as in His face blasphemous disobedience.  Doing nothing, expecting Him to save us – no matter what we do or don’t do – is absolute presumptuousness.  If we believe God and His Word, we will be motivated to act on what he is telling us – not just sit back and act helpless.  By their fruits you will know them.

The perverse “social gospel” tells us the opposite.  The modern version tells us screw personal responsibility and personal effort and personal involvement in the lives of others, let’s get the government to do it.  It’s ok to tax the most productive among us a larger part of their income to help “those of us who are less fortunate.”  Yup, it sure is easier than doing it ourselves.

If there was ever a time in American history where we could use a strong dose of leadership that believes in, practices, and promotes personal responsibility, this is the time.  And if such character happens to come from a faith that is outside or orthodoxy, that tells me that orthodoxy has some catching up to do.

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