My family has a suspicion: there are very few people so wicked one cannot think of at least five nice things to say about them. When we must oppose a person, we try to balance our opposition by thinking of five (or even ten!) nice things to say about them.
Why? At least in me, it tempers my ego and softens my judgement. Most humans struggle, fail, and do what they can. All of our “is” falls short of “should.”
That is not an excuse. Humans are need help, but the universal nature of our brokenness means that humility and charity are the order of the day.
Since every man and woman are created in God’s image and share a common grace there is also something good that remains in each person. Seeing that God given grace in others is good for the soul of a man.
Why “nice things?” “Nice” is a word less serious than virtuous, but more positive than competent!
“Nice” is a misused word. Women like my wife Hope hate it, because it sometimes is used as a fill-in for: “I cannot bother to get to know you, because you are quiet.” She could be swearing on the inside, but her calm outside makes her “nice.”
Nice, however, is a decent word that deserves reclaiming. Few can claim much virtue, real excellence, but most have remnants of “nice.” There are surely some souls, one thinks of Stalin, where finding anything nice to say is not worthwhile and may only be an excuse for their folly, but thank God such depraved men are rare.
And after all, if I can love my enemies, surely I can find a few good things to say about those with whom I disagree. I am thankful, very thankful, to live in a Republic where my worst political foe is better than the men that rule much of the world’s populations. We are not in China. We are not in Zimbabwe. We are not in Russia.
I mean no disrespect to our President when I say that I would take him over Putin any day! In fact, there are only a handful of world leaders I would prefer to President Obama. Sometimes Americans need perspective: the Democratic Party may boo God, but the world’s most populous nation, China, still can throw Christians in prison.
If President Obama needs my vote, he is in trouble. I am not undecided: he has failed. But that need not lead to hate or failure to see his virtues. During the man’s convention it seems fitting to think of five nice things to say about President Obama. Of course, just as I can only make guesses about what is “really” happening in Washington, so I cannot claim to know the “real” Obama, but here are five good things that seem true:
First, he is an excellent family man. He has a warm marriage and two children he plainly adores. He has done a good job keeping them (mostly) out of the public eye and giving them decent childhood.
Second, our President gives one of the best “set” speeches of any politician in my lifetime. Given time to prepare, he delivers the goods.
Third, the President was willing to place Senator Clinton in his cabinet. Few men have the courage to put a bright and ruthless rival on their team. President Obama showed that humility.
Fourth, the President successfully led the government in finding and killing arch-terrorist Usama Bin Laden.
Fifth, the President when given “one party” rule ignored the “far left” of his party and cobbled together plans that were to my left (and I think mistaken), but to the right of the more extreme elements of his party. He is man of the left, but he does not appear captive to its more lunatic wing.
In fact, these virtues make President Obama eminently qualified for a useful private life, especially in education. I hope this next election will allow him to practice his virtues out of public office.