Thursday, January 22, 2009

Set aside childish things

I thought that Obama's inaugural speech was extremely powerful. Several parts of the speech really resonated with me. I hope to have time in the near future to comment on these. Today, I've chosen this phrase, "We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things." I couldn't agree more.

In a simplified form, individuals, enterprises and nations go through four stages of development that be summarized in these four phrases:

Stage One - The world is a mystery and I'm afraid.
Stage Two - The world is a project that I must control.
Stage Three - The world is a project that I must join.
Stage Four - The world is a mystery that I must care for.

Although these are not correlated with age, generally progress in development is tied with time, a progression from one towards four. Not every person, institution or nation reaches stage four. Often development is stopped at some level.

In the past, I thought that we as a nation were in stage two and three reaching for stage four. Our actions in recent history moved back to stage one reaching for stage two.

The Obama reference was to the following passage from the writings of Paul:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it will profit me nothing. Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Merriam Webster uses these words to define charity: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity, generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering, aid given to those in need, and lenient judgment of others. This is clearly stage four behavior.

I believe it's time to get back to the development of our nation and civilization.

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