We have been conditioned to think that only politicians can solve our problems. But at some point, maybe we will wake up and recognize that it was the politicians who created our problems.

–Ben Carson

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

Tis the season to be jolly… rose lustily from deep within my grandson as he and his third-grade class sang for us at their Christmas program. I couldn’t help but smile and be hopeful, seeing these younglings sing joyfully and with abandon.

Every year I look for something to get me in the Christmas spirit. Sometimes it’s Christmas movies, often Christmas music, but this year it was my grandson’s Christmas program. As a father and now a grandfather, I’ve been to a lot of school Christmas programs, but this one was special. Not only did the program warm my heart and awaken my Christmas spirit, it also stiffened my resolve. It is my duty to do everything I can to give my grans the blessings that were given to my generation.

Sadly, I’m not very proud of the Baby Boomer’s record. But I have resolved to follow the lead of the Apostle Paul, using the present tense, “I am fighting the good fight, I am finishing the race, and I am keeping the faith” (2nd Timothy 4:7). This is my Tour of Duty.

Sometimes in our zeal to do the right thing, we screw things up. I know that I have sometimes been “right” and yet wrong. Perhaps our politicos have just been carried away by their zeal, and they will wake up and amend their destructive ways. But that would assume they are still capable of reasoned, non-ideological thought and have an inkling of concern for We the People. Perhaps they’ll awaken to virtue and function above party, power and prestige. But that also assumes they are not in thrall to evil. I have observed that “Sometimes the best explanation for the otherwise inexplicable is evil.”

Most generations of Americans look back with nostalgia to those “good old days” when they were young. (The period of The Great Depression years may be an exception.)

Every year we watch “A Christmas Story.” It is one of our favorite holiday movies. My grandson is nine years old just like the movie’s protagonist, Ralphie, who dreams of a Red Ryder BB gun. I especially like the nostalgic portrayal of post-WWII America in a town that seems much like the 1950s Knoxville I grew up in. I lived in a safe neighborhood, despite a Scut Farkus-like bully. My family was loving and supportive while applying enough tough love. America was again prosperous after defeating the Nazis, Tojo and the Great Depression. And I learned my 3Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic, in a neighborhood school. What will my grandchildren remember about their growing up?

Sometimes I’m prone to laments and whining. Arguably, things are not going well in our country and the world. However, perhaps this has, to an extent, always been so. Growing up, I don’t know how many times I heard my dad say, “The world is going to hell in a handbasket.” I guess it still is.

Second only to inflation, Americans are lamenting the crime wave that is sweeping the country, especially in the big cities run by Democrats. Interestingly, 3Rs are relevant to the crime wave.

Perhaps 10 years ago I was introduced to the notion of restorative justice which is at the crux of the current crime wave. Progressives aim to rehabilitate perpetrators of crime by restoring the criminals’ relationships with society and their victims. I first heard of restorative justice with rape victims in Vermont, but the George Soros-backed restorative justice movement is everywhere now.

Throughout mankind’s history, justice was retributive. In other words, if you do the crime, you will do the time as punishment. Arguably, since there is less of a deterrent to crime, violence and lawlessness, they have increased dramatically. Furthermore, Progressives view crime as a result of societal ills and not the criminal’s fault. Often lawbreakers are released with a relative slap on the hand. Consequently, the third R, recidivism, is commonplace.

This morning I talked myself off the ledge. No, I’m not suicidal like a jumper on a high building’s ledge! I’m just using a metaphor. During my medical career, I have talked many patients off the ledge of a medical or emotional crisis. And during my own medical journey, Becky has kept me from going over the edge.

I have never heard the voice of God as did the Biblical Jacob which I mentioned in last week’s essay, Freedom from Fear. (If you missed it, The Focus has a wonderful archives section at knoxfocus.com.)

Ancient peoples believed that God spoke to them through the medium of dreams. In rereading the Christmas story, I found three instances where Jesus’ father, Joseph, had unique dreams: telling him to take Mary as his wife, flee to Egypt with his family and then return to Nazareth in Galilee after Herod died. But perhaps God communicates to us in other ways.

I believe the essence of a person is to be found in the non-anatomical site which I refer to as the soul. As a science-based guy, I realize that I cannot measure the soul, but I “know” it exists. Similarly, I believe the mind exists as the thoughtful essence of a person, over and above the anatomical brain.

Ancient people believed that the life force was in the breath, the pneuma. Later the ancients recognized that life was associated with a beating heart and blood was representative of that flowing life force. We moderns now define living as the thoughtful essence of an integrated brain and nervous system. The brain forms at six to seven weeks and is functioning by eight weeks after conception. Food for thought.

I envision the soul as the place where the Spirit interfaces with us and guides our conscience. The Apostle Paul wrote, “The Spirit intercedes with groans too deep for words.” Beautiful wordsmithing and impactful imagery! We are not dependent upon dreams for direction because we have a conscience that is in communication with the Transcendent.

Listen for the Spirit this Christmas season. And you will know what is Right.