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May 17th, 2022

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Walking the Talk

Rabbi Yonason Goldson

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson

Published Feb. 8, 2017

Walking the Talk

The week in review reveals an increasing national weakness of character

If Diogenes couldnít find an honest man 24 centuries ago in ancient Greece, itís hard to imagine his search would prove more fruitful in modern-day Washington, D.C. or, lamentably, in modern-day America.

Itís not hard to understand why. In our age of personal gratification, truth has become more than merely inconvenient. It has become an utter nuisance.

Conservatives have been eager -- and correctly so -- to shine the light of hypocrisy on Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General fired by Donald Trump last week for refusing to enforce his recent executive order on refugees. Ms. Yates might have argued against the orderís constitutionality; instead, she based her decision primarily on personal bias.

Celebrated by the left for her stand on principle, what Ms. Yates really did was to violate her oath of office by failing to fulfill her duties. Itís her job to uphold the law, not her individual values. If conscience prevented her from performing her duties, she would have resigned in protest. But that would have required true principle. So much easier to merely participate in another round of partisan gamesmanship.

This brings us back to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples back in 2015. She too claimed to stand on principle by refusing to honor her oath of office.

So why are the same voices that castigated Ms. Davis hailing Sally Yates as a hero? And where were the critics of Ms. Yates when Kim Davis was making herself a martyr in name only?

Jedediah Bila posed that very question on The View, prompting Whoopi Goldberg to go ballistic and invoke the popular refrain, itís not the same thing. [Video just below]

Nowadays, principle is just a synonym for equivocation.

NOT SO FAST, LOUIE

For all the double standards, however, much of the blame falls on the president himself for his inept handling of a hot-button issue.

If Mr. Trump had consulted in advance with the head of Homeland Security, with relevant agencies and lawyers, and with Republican leaders, if he had specified exceptions for permanent legal residents, people in transit, and interpreters, if he had limited the ban to new visas and prepared talking points for congressional allies, it would have been easy to preempt the misrepresentations and damning optics that have been disseminated and exploited by zealots on the left.

Instead, the Trump administration shot itself in the foot before making it out of the starting gate. By issuing an ill-conceived executive order, the president mimicked a favorite practice of his predecessor, forging ahead in pursuit of ideological goals without much thought for how he might actually achieve them.

So who is ultimately responsible for this latest episode of schoolyard politics? Everyone.

The reason why our society is descending into chaos has less to do with the opinions we hold and the actions we take, and more to do with the process that leads to our decision-making. Rather than reason our way to a cogent and consistent view on any given political or social issue, we ďthinkĒ with our feelings and justify our inconsistencies by citing the gospel of emotionalism and political dogma.

As a result, the rift between right and left grows ever wider, with no common language or moral axioms to allow for reconciliation, compromise, or forward progress.

VIVA LA REVOLUCION

Nowhere is this more evident than on the campus of U.C. Berkeley. Last week, students of the notoriously far-left university participated in the suppression of free speech -- one of its most sacred values -- when protest against conservative Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos erupted into violence. As we see more and more often, freedom of expression, tolerance, and diversity extend only within the boundaries of political correctness.

The sad reality is that we donít want to make peace with each other. We only want to make ourselves feel righteous by vilifying those who disagree with us.

King Solomon says, A brother maligned grows more unmovable than a citadel; and quarrels divide more than fortress gates. When we apply one set of standards to others and another to ourselves, we convince our adversaries that we are both untrustworthy and intractable, widening the gap between us while perpetuating strife and dissention. If we want to win hearts and minds, we have to start by holding ourselves to account so that we have the credibility to be taken seriously.

In other words, we have to stop being afraid of the truth -- no matter how inconvenient it may be.

Rabbi Yonason Goldson is a professional speaker and trainer.† Drawing upon his experiences as a hitchhiker, circumnavigator, newspaper columnist, high school teacher, and talmudic scholar, he teaches practical strategies for enhancing communication, ethical conduct, and personal achievement. He is the author of Proverbial Beauty: Secrets for Success and Happiness from the Wisdom of the Ages is available on Amazon.

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