“Those who say they have no interest in the affairs of the polis (city-state), we say they have no business here at all.” (paraphrased from The Funeral Oration)

Pericles of Athens 490 BC

By Dr. Jim Ferguson
I like alliteration and lately I have been considering words beginning with the letter “L.” Last week leadership came to mind in my spiritual journaling, even before the Knoxville Focus story regarding Jim Haslam’s new book. Mr. Haslam is indisputably a leader, but he writes that luck played a part in his success. Respectfully, I take issue with that perspective. Luck is a mechanism to explain the inexplicable or, as I suspect in Mr. Haslam’s case, an expression of humility.


Several years ago, I described an old professor’s perspective of the leadership qualities of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. Professor Rufus Fears said a leader has bedrock principles, a moral compass of what is right, a clear vision and is able to gain consensus to achieve that vision. The success of Pilot Oil is strong evidence that Mr. Haslam exemplifies Dr. Fears qualities.


I remain intrigued why some people command the allegiance of followers. Charisma and communication skills are certainly important. Energy and optimism are also critical factors.


Teachers are leaders. We’ve all experienced good and bad teachers. Professor Fears did not possess GQ qualities, but I’d show up to hear him lecture on woodworking. His energy, command of subject and his storytelling, rather than dry lecturing, were unparalleled. It may trigger snowflakes and those driven by hatred, but President Trump has the qualities of successful teachers and leadership qualities that Joe Biden does not possess.


In my opinion, Trump’s Achilles Heel is not his sometimes-indelicate speech; it is his optimism. I’ll offer two examples. After Trump’s election he thought passions would subside and left many Obama holdovers in government. They did not accept the 2016 election and continue in the “deep state” to sabotage his Presidency and administration.


And more recently are the extensive interviews with the journalistic guttersnipe, Bob Woodward. What could possibly go wrong interacting with such a Trump hater? Or, what benefit could be served? Perhaps the President has the optimistic perspective that reasonable people will be persuaded by logic to be fair and do what is best for the country. This is not the case with the journalistic class who actually function as a lying and subversive “fifth column” (look it up if you’re not familiar with the Spanish Civil War idiom). Fair and balanced is not the modus operandi of the journalistic class.


We are in the season to choose our leader and the leader of the free world. Unfortunately, the qualities of leadership are not on the ballot. Actually, the choice of President has never been more simple or clear-cut, and never more crucial as Communist China strives for hegemony and Democrat mayors allow their cities to burn and be looted. Hatred is one choice. MAGA is the other.


As Pericles observed, politics is in everything. We are struggling to hold our church community together despite our Bishop’s locks on the sanctuary doors. I wonder if liberty has been lost to proclamations of “safety.” Methodism was in the throes of schism before Covid and the proscriptions against corporate worship, singing and fellowship have accelerated the rupture. The Methodist Bishop of a friend’s congregation even outlawed collectively reciting the Lord’s Prayer (while social distancing with masks). What manner of free man would follow such an infamous dictate under the ruse of safety? Thomas Paine once asked, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”


Livelihood is another L word under assault. All Senate Democrats received their marching orders and blocked a recent Covid relief bill. The Dems were mad Trump opposed recent House measures to bail out profligate Blue states and cities. But don’t worry folks, Congress and Government workers will get their paychecks; John Q Public can just “eat cake” as Marie Antoinette once callously opined. After her wash and blow dry, Pelosi flaunted much the same attitude.


It is lunacy to think any Democrat or Joe Biden are political “moderates.” They have all made “Faustian bargains” with leftists (not to be confused with modern liberals, who are actually progressives). Make no mistake, the Democrat socialists, Bernie, AOC and her “squad,” now run the revolutionary Democrat party.


As I pen this polemic, I lament the death of sports, politicized with baseball games played in stadiums devoid of people, in front of cardboard cut-outs. There is a symbiosis between crowds and sports, analogous to students and teachers. Youthful students bring idealism and energy to the table, whereas professors add wisdom and insight to the learning milieu. Just as fans add their special enthusiasm to the expertise of athletes. Empty Neyland stadium and football is gone. Piped in fan noise to simulate an NFL crowd is a deceitful ruse, and virtue signaling/kneeling athletes kill their golden goose by insulting the flag and our country.


Lockdowns have not stopped the CCCP (Chinese Communist Covid Pandemic). At the start of the pandemic, Trump listened to the scientists and experts and together we sheltered in place. But that was not enough, just as leftists will never be happy with any concession because they are generally angry and miserable. We bent the curve by foregoing our liberty, closing our economy, destroying livelihoods and accepting the estimated one hundred and fifty thousand excess deaths as consequences of the shut-down (drug & alcohol abuse, depression, suicide and avoidance of medical care). At this writing, deaths from Covid stand at one hundred ninety thousand, if you accept the statistics.


Someday, I hope to be able to write again as an apologist for America. Someday, the war will be over because wars always end. The ancient prophet Micah wrote that we are “To act justly and to love mercy, [but always] walk humbly with your Lord” (Micah 6:8). In my opinion this passage implies a sequence to the affairs of mankind, including wars. We are to act justly and then behave mercifully and always walk humbly with the Lord.