Ever since the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision, I’ve been deeply demoralized — feeling like something fundamental just changed in our nation and our culture. The relationship between citizen and state has been redefined, and more strong legal bricks have been laid in the abortion edifice. For conservatives there is no silver lining to this decision, none. State power has been increased, our nation takes another step towards bankruptcy, and now a previously unpopular law has gotten the Supreme Court seal of approval — a seal that still matters to those who don’t follow politics or the court closely.
But I was wrong to feel so demoralized, wrong to place so much weight on a court decision. Our lives and destinies are not shaped by justices of the Supreme Court. Indeed, they are often trailing-edge indicators of millions of choices and tectonic cultural shifts that occurred before and during their time on the bench. I was reminded of this by, of all things, an Al Pacino YouTube — the greatest fictional motivational speech of all time:
Please click and watch it. What an astonishing and powerful portrait of our priorities and powerlessness. We fight and claw and scratch for inches — not feet, not miles (no matter how important we deem ourselves). And it’s in those inches and in that fight that we define our character.
Everything I’ve ever done that is good and worth doing has been in those “six inches in front of my face,” and every enduring failure has happened in that same space.
It is in those six inches that I made a covenant before God to love my wife for the rest of my life.
It is in those six inches that I held my children and became a father — their teacher and their protector.
It is in those six inches that I stood with my brothers in Iraq — as close as family — to fight a great evil, and in that space we grieved and still grieve for those that fell.
It is in those six inches that I’ve been — for better and worse — a husband, a father, a son, a deacon, a soldier, a friend, a lawyer, and a colleague.
And it’s in those six inches that our church and culture crumble, not in the court and not in Congress. A divorce happens in the world closest around us. Children are loved or lost in that space, and we refuse to fight for our families or for our nation when we look inside for courage and find only apathy and cowardice. It is in that space that we sacrifice our virtues for our appetites. Millions upon millions of Americans are losing the most important battles, the battles fought in those six inches, and no Supreme Court ruling, no election victory, and no amount of money can fix what we are breaking in our selves and homes each and every day.
So rather than rage at politics, I’ve been convicted to refocus on those six inches and ask Him for the will, the courage, and the faithfulness to live the life He has set before me.