This week my wife Elizabeth and I had the privilege of attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
It remains my opinion every child in this country should be taken to Washington D.C. as a part of their education. The age of the child is critical as well because they are still willing to listen during those pre-teen years.
For all the endowment programs and monies spent on educating our kids, we could instill a sense of pride and excellence by showing them how our founders viewed those qualities in crafting the infrastructure of the capitol city.
It looks the most like Paris, France of any American city primarily because its architect was a Frenchman by the name of L’Enfant. More than that, it is beautiful and grand in scale and scope. The edifices which cause us to remember the greatness of our heritage have not crumbled thoughout time but stand in resoluteness for any who wish to weave a connection to their hearts and futures.
What we saw at the prayer breakfast was stunning as well. Democrats and Republicans united in prayer. The president and first lady and vice president were there, along with many members of Congress.
The keynote message was delivered by Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins medical institutions. Carson cautioned the audience that we must get over our sensitivity to political correctness. He went on to say that we must forget about unanimity of speech and thought (also known as consensus).
He said political correctness muzzles freedom of thought and expression, two of the most important freedoms Americans enjoy.
Speaking of freedom he reminded the audience that “when you educate a man you liberate a man.” He added, And “a less informed society becomes vulnerable.” He is not just talking about it he is doing something about it.
The dialogue was different, softer, from our leaders. The president’s words were powerful and yet, a sense of humility resonated in his delivery. He wondered aloud why the cooperation of the event could not translate to the events which preceded it or if its ideals could follow through when it was over.
He noted that “faith is not a possession, it is a process.”
And he concluded with, “Those of us with the most power and influence need to be the most humble.”
This was not the rhetoric of a bitter election cycle, but of a man searching for others to engage. It was different in tone, than what we are accustomed to hearing from our leaders.
And yes, it was convicting. I paused and wondered how curious it is to consider for those of us who identify individuals or institutions as their enemy how often do we stop and pray for our enemies as opposed to shouting our contempt to anyone who will listen? Then the question arose, can contempt and prayer for an individual coexist, simultaneously?
When we are instructed to love and pray for our “enemies” it will be difficult to be obedient to this call and yet harbor the poison that has stained the fabric of our national and even local discourse.
As weary as the process of a presidential election may be, it may be more wearisome to sustain the lack of respect for our leaders fomented by the constant commentators of the left and the right.
For me, our trip was what it always has been, an inspiration. If you haven’t been to D.C. you should try it sometime.
Take your spouse or child or grandchild(ren). It is hard to walk the halls of our heritage without getting the dust of our best traditions on your heart.