Tim Tebow, Ronald Reagan, and the Power of Positive Messaging

I wrote earlier this week, for example, about the Obama administration's proposed campaign against "Islamophobia" in the U.S. This political issue is central to the future of the West, and today it is framed in wholly defensive, negative terms. The disputants on both sides of the issue in the West conceive of themselves as being on defense against a major assault. Those who are concerned about political Islamism focus on identifying its threatening machinations, while their political opposites decry this posture as "Islamophobia," claiming that it threatens religious freedom and social amity.

This focus on threats puts the whole dialogue into an irretrievable downward spiral. While I am not an advocate of ignoring threats—no career intelligence officer could be—they are among the morally weakest and most corruptible premises of politics. This is true in both communal and individual life: the human heart is not intended to find inspiration and compelling value in fending off threats. What should inspire us is not the fear of someone else's political or social ideas, but the great value and blessing of our own.

Ronald Reagan was an unusual politician because he did more than give lip service to the philosophy of political and economic liberty and the surpassing value of religious faith. He studied these things, talked about them often, and obviously loved them. By the time he ran for president in 1980, he was not framing his political vision in terms of resisting communism; he framed it in terms of promoting liberty. Reagan, himself a Christian, was as unabashed about the blessings of American liberty as Tim Tebow is about his love of Jesus Christ.

Tebow makes a fine metaphor in another way, because he demonstrates that a great love and a positive message won't necessarily produce a perfect performance—but if your character keeps you from giving up, and if you rely on God as He has promised we can, you will win more than you lose.

If we in the West, and especially in America, loved religious, intellectual, political, and economic freedom even half as much as Tim Tebow loves Jesus, we would come across as happy, energized, hard working, and victorious in our chosen estate. We would appear grateful for it, and excited to face each new day because of the possibilities inherent in using our gifts in freedom. We would reach out to others with an infectious enthusiasm. When hostile interlocutors tried to shift the terms of public dialogue by bringing up grievances and claiming offense, we wouldn't take the bait. We would speak gently but assertively of the good things that we love, and the great good they have historically done for peoples from all backgrounds. And we would appear stronger, firmer, more prosperous, more resilient, and more unassailable—because we would be.

12/19/2011 5:00:00 AM
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    About J. E. Dyer
    J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval intelligence officer and evangelical Christian. She retired in 2004 and blogs from the Inland Empire of southern California. She writes for Commentary's CONTENTIONS blog, Hot Air's Green Room, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.