Romans 5:1-11

There are so many arguments about who is right or wrong.  The reality is that when we are justified by faith, we become children of God who have been redeemed by Christ and we journey on a path growing in faith and knowledge–we are never done. All of us are imperfect, we are goof- ups and it is in working towards the goal of perfection–perfection in love of our neighbor that we grow.  Below is an article that illustrates that growing towards perfection. Life is messy, painful, and never perfect, Scott Peck says that “Life is difficult, and when you learn that you will grow.”

There’s a wonderful series of books – The Path to Power by Robert A. Caro – on Lyndon Johnson, the 36th President of the United States.

By all accounts, LBJ was not someone you’d like to marry into your family. He was a relentless politician, a climber, a habitual liar, and treated many people like dirt, including his wife Lady Bird. He also embroiled the country in Vietnam, for which many never forgave him.

On the other hand, LBJ was a deep Southerner who cared deeply about the rights of the poor and the rights of people of color, at a time when few whites did, and even fewer whites in power did.

He used his political power to enact Civil Rights legislation that seemingly no one else could get through, and with his Great Society programs, gave millions of poor and elderly people dignity, both of which we basically take for granted today, but were an enormous struggle to enact.

LBJ was not popular in his time, though history has been a bit more friendly to him.

But the question stands…was he a good guy? Do we admire him or can we barely contain our hatred?

To an ideologue, LBJ fits into some category or another. He’s despicable, and his crimes cannot be made up for. His lies and his personal reputation make him unforgivable.

Alternatively, by passing Civil Rights, maybe LBJ is something of a dark hero – a flawed, Batman-like figure who we needed but couldn’t appreciate in his time.

The truth is, of course, in between. He’s all of these things.

The problem lies with us, the categorizers. We want to place him somewhere and move on.

You may fairly, on balance, think LBJ detracted more than he added. That’s fine. But that’s not what most people want to do – they want to put the black hat or the white hat on him. Villain or hero.

This is a special case of a broader mental phenomenon that we’re doing all the time. “This music sucks! This music is the best thing ever created!” “Yoga is for weirdoes.” “Yoga is the only way to achieve mental peace.” 

It’s only once you can begin divorcing yourself from good-and-bad, black-and-white, category X&Y type thinking that your understanding of reality starts to fit together properly.

Putting things on a continuum, assessing the scale of their importance and quantifying their effects, understanding both the good and the bad, is the way to do it.

Understanding the other side of the argument better than your own, a theme we hammer on ad nauseum, is the way to do it.

Because truth always lies somewhere in between, and the discomfort of being uncertain is preferable to the certainty of being wrong.

It isn’t easy, but it’s not supposed to be.

Shane Parrish


One Response to “Perspective”

  1. Gina Cappello Says:

    Such an insightful post.

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