And They Will Drink the Sand

“There is a lack of leadership in this country that leaves us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.” 

In the 1990s there was a popular movie called “The American President.” It starred Michael Douglas as the President and Michael J. Fox as his Press Secretary. There were many subplots and emotional story lines, but the main compendium of the movie was that there is a need of the public for righteous leadership. At the climax of the movie, the President (Douglas) is having a discussion with his Press Secretary (Fox) in the Oval Office. A piece of legislation was in jeopardy because it didn’t represent the popular thinking of the public at the time. Major corporate lobbyists were opposed to the bill. And the politically expedient thing to do was to let it die. Fox says to Douglas, “They (the public) want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.” There is dramatic pause as the camera scans the rest of the staff in the Oval Office and everyone is anticipating the President’s next words. As the camera comes back to Douglas, with an intense look on his face, he says, “We’ve had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”

People seek and deserve leadership. In society today, most people seek the vision of others to follow. It’s not because they’re less educated or because of their ethnicity or their gender or their cultural upbringing. It’s because leadership has always been a distinct calling in a culture. It is biblical that without vision, the people will perish.

The issues facing us today are not simple, but determining the right thing to do is. You have to believe, be consistent, and be committed to principles.

Now we find ourselves today in this country, and in this world, facing conflicts that appear to be intractable. Health care, the constitutional measure of gay rights, immigration, entitlements, deficits, capital formation, and states’ rights are all complicated issues. Again, the answers are not simple. The foundation of determining the right thing to do is to start with freedom. Apply it to individual liberty with respect for everyone’s rights. Allowing each person and their family to pursue their purpose as they see fit, given their talents, convictions, and circumstances, is the definition of liberty and their opportunity to pursue happiness.

There is a lack of leadership in this country that leaves us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. Congress is in gridlock. State budgets are pressed. There seems to be no solutions. Yet what each of us can do within our individual spheres of influence can collectively change the world. We do not have problems we can’t solve. We have problems that we cannot standardize. One shoe does not fit all sizes. We should be left alone as individuals to run our lives as we see fit. We should be held accountable for our actions, whether they are our health habits or our moral standards, and recognize all consequences.

I attended the Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) banquet recently. FCA is a spectacular organization greatly impacting positively the lives of youths. The banquet was an awards ceremony honoring male and female athletes for their achievements on and off the field of play. A selection of teachers were also honored for their sacrifice and leadership for counseling student athletes. A spokesman was selected from each class to express their convictions and moral outlook on life – in one sense, their principles. I was most impressed with the high school students who espoused commitment to hard work, respect for their coaches, and respect for their fellow students, and their faith in Jesus Christ. The teacher and coach who spoke for her colleagues was a woman from a small town in Oklahoma who became emotional with the crowd and passionate in her plea. She offered an explanation for the complexity of problems. She stated that there is an absolute war going on in society today that distracts kids from pursuing constructive lives. Kids from broken homes, kids without direction, and kids subject to peer pressure are confused about the proper course for their lives.

Her request was for each of us to engage in the debate, to state our views on right and wrong, and to express our principles to our spheres of influence. She pleaded with the audience to set an example and to be a foundation for others. In other words, she was calling the audience to do the right thing –  speak up, step up, and stand up for whatever we believe are proper principles. It made me realize that we are not alone in this challenge to right the course and to deliver a sound society to the next generation.

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her candidacy for President of the United States this past Sunday. She stated that she wants to be the leader of the middle class, that she will manage government better for all peoples. This is exactly the theme that we expected and discussed in the last report. Leader of the middle class is code language for, if you like your entitlement, you can keep it. As we have discussed, some entitlements are necessary and appropriate. But they are also not sustainable under the current structure. Mrs. Clinton’s strategy is to solidify all citizens who rely upon a government check for primary support. She will do this without opposition from inside her party. Republicans will debate how to limit and restructure government. They have not provided a vision on how they will implement limited government and how individuals will be impacted. This is not vision, for the people cannot grasp it. Without a vision that they can understand, people will vote to protect what they have. Hillary Clinton and her strategists understand this.

It is time for every candidate who is seeking the presidency of the United States to state their beliefs on the principles on which they will base their policy. I would offer that the underlying beliefs that support our principles would include that western civilization has done more good for the world than harm, that the United States of America is exceptional for many reasons including, that in America, birth is not destiny. And each individual has a right to their individual pursuit of happiness. And that it is OK to be a Christian. Christianity has provided many axioms for the foundation of sound government. Yes, mistakes have been made in history, but the good and the good intentions are far greater than the mistakes. It is time for every citizen to demand of every Presidential candidate a sincere statement on whether or not they are committed to these foundational beliefs.

The answer then to difficult problems is to lead by determining your principles. State these principles to your sphere of influence, and provide moral leadership by standing up for principles. By standing up in numbers together, we will keep standing. It is not only our obligation to do so, it is our solemn duty to lead people to an oasis of real solutions. Otherwise, the public will follow anyone to the mirage of false hope, unsustainability, and destruction. And they will drink the sand.

My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.

What do you believe?