Thursday, January 19, 2012

Even a Wrong Ron Paul is Right for America (part 3)

Another way that Ron Paul has challenged me, for which I am grateful...

  • I have courage to question my own beliefs.
Besides teaching me lessons, listening to Ron Paul has caused me to reflect on my own beliefs. It is interesting to hear conservatives evaluate this man, often praising his economic policy and dismissing, or mocking, his foreign policy. Actually, to be precise, the praise for his economic policy is often only lip service since I have not heard any other Republicans proposing real spending cuts anywhere close to his. They may want to reduce potential increases in the future, but Paul argues for actual cuts to current spending levels and dramatic shrinking of the federal government. Nonetheless, at least GOP folks give him a nod for his conservative ideals when it comes to the economy.

The other side of the coin is what I want to focus on here, though. Ron Paul's foreign policy, commonly described as "isolationism" by the pundits, is what one debate moderator called his "Achilles' heel." Personally, I have a good friend who uses words like "buffoon" and "idiot" when referring to the Texas Congressman because of his position on international conflicts and U.S. involvement. Most recently, Newt Gingrich called Paul's views "stunningly dangerous." Rick Santorum highlighted what he thinks Ron Paul would do on day one as Commander-in-chief in an attempt to sway voters away from him. Most roundtable discussions that I have seen on political talk shows simply dismiss Ron Paul by stating that no one takes him seriously.

Well, for a minute, let me risk being obnoxious enough to take him seriously. When I give Ron Paul's philosophy a chance, it raises many questions for me. For instance, when he contends, "We must recapture what it means to be free" (page 324, LD), I can't help but ponder the meaning of freedom. What does it mean to be free? Is freedom absolute? Does it mean one thing to be free in America and another thing to be free in Syria? Namibia? Venezuela? Norway? If it is something different, should it be? What does it mean for any man, woman, or child to be free? Who determines if a person is free? Who defines freedom?

Perhaps that concept is too abstract. Let's narrow the focus to foreign policy and national defense. Allow me to approach it from a significantly different angle than most people do. Instead of asking for the most strategic, or most secure, foreign policy, what if I, as a follower of Jesus, posed this provocative question: What is the most Christ-honoring foreign policy? It almost instantly reframes the entire concept, doesn't it? 

I have to be honest. Ron Paul's stance does scare me a little bit. He would claim that is because of the demagoguing and scare tactics of the media and politicians, and he could very well be right. They painted him as naive and out-of-touch, and I accepted that portrait. But now, I wrestle with these issues. He has given me courage, at least with myself for now, to ask tough questions in light of my faith.

Is a Spirit-ual approach that expresses love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to international relations possible? What does it look like in practice?

Who created the Israelis? Who created the Iranians? Who created the Palestinians? Who created the Libyans? And just whose side is that Creator on?

I am still of the opinion that there is a time for war. I am left with more questions than answers on this subject, and I am all right with that. Abraham Lincoln wrestled with the impossible challenge of figuring out whose side God was on in a time of war. He concluded that of two opposing sides, both may be wrong and one must be wrong. When it comes to claiming divine favor, I don't know that we have advanced much beyond that insight in the past 150 years.

(to be continued…)

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