By Dr. Jim Ferguson

I assure you that I’m not fishing for comments, but sometimes I wonder if my essays make any difference or are even read. Perhaps I’ve said enough; some say so.

According to marketing experts at The Knoxville Focus, the newspaper has a weekly circulation of approximately 50,000, including the online footprint. If I were writing a blog I wouldn’t consider that bad. However, I would never make it as an influencer on social media! And it was never my intention to be discovered by HarpersCollins or make money from The Doctor Is In column.

Philip Yancey and others have noted that writing is a solitary enterprise, and I agree. Occasionally, I get a thumbs up response for an essay, and sometimes my opinions provoke strong negative comments. However, most of the time it’s as if my words appear briefly in print or are cast to the electronic wind. Either way that’s OK. I write because I enjoy the creative process, and because I was given a voice at The Focus. For me, writing is an avocation rather than a vocation. I write for joy. And I write as service, duty and witness.

I’m teaching my grandson how to play checkers and chess. I’m certainly no expert on either, but checkers is fairly simple and with a seven year old the chess focus is on how the pieces move. In chess the various pieces have different values. Pawns are the foot soldiers and are worth a somewhat arbitrary 1 on the value scale. Knights and bishops are worth 3 and rooks/castles are worth 4. I’ve cautioned Oakley to be very careful and not sacrifice his queen with a value of 9 for a pawn or other lesser pieces.

It would be inappropriate to discuss real world applications of chess with my grandson. However, savvy readers can appreciate the analogy of removing the ISIS leader al-Baghdadi in 10-2019 and now the terrorist Iranian General Soleimani from the battlefield. The savage ISIS leader was infamous for beheading hundreds if not thousands. And the Iranian General was responsible for killing more than 600 American soldiers and maiming thousands more with IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Only leftists object to the execution of these monsters and invaluable battlefield pieces of Islamist armies.

There was little objection when Obama killed an American Islamist terrorist in Yemen with a drone strike in 2011. Actually, Obama authored more than 500 drone strikes killing thousands. However, I cheered when President Obama sent executioners for Bin Laden.

I’m a stickler for words, and I chafe at the misuse of the word liberal as applies to politics. The term derives from the Latin word “liberalis,” meaning suitable for a free man. “Classical liberalism” was the philosophy of  The Founders who advocated limited government, free markets and civil liberty.

The term “modern liberal” originated in 1924 with the progressive John Dewey. The progressive philosophy arose in the late 19th century in opposition to communism and capitalism. Republican Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive and so was democrat Woodrow Wilson. Unfortunately for progressives, their policies of a national income tax, prohibition and The League of Nations were very unpopular and elections were being lost. Dewey advised progressives to just change their name to “modern liberals.” Later, modern was dropped from their mantra.

Obama and Hillary Clinton identify themselves as modern progressives, as does Nancy Pelosi. Progressives are synonymous with liberals who advocate economic justice through government income distribution, universal healthcare, non-originalist interpretation of the Constitution and a living wage.

I have many friends who are liberals/progressives. I was once liberal, but never a leftist. Like me, liberals think one’s skin color is irrelevant. A leftist believes that race is everything. An example is Colin Kapernack who filters everything through race and class warfare. Liberals opt for bigger government, but are not opposed to capitalism which has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system. Leftists or Democratic-socialists like Alexandria Ocacia Cortez and Bernie Sanders oppose capitalism. Liberals believe in national sovereignty. Leftists promote open borders. Liberals believe that America is not perfect, but is “the last best hope of earth” (Abraham Lincoln). Leftists howl that America “is racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic.”

Leftists do not believe in free speech. Those who disagree with them and use “hurtful words“ are shouted down on college campuses, once bastions of free speech. Liberals may disagree with me, but will defend my right to speak. Franklin D. Roosvelt “cited the need to protect Western Civilization and Christianity, yet leftists denounced Trump’s Warsaw speech, and the need to protect Western and Christian Civilization.”

Have you ever been shown a tree or a flower and then you see it everywhere? After I was shown an ailanthus tree by a friend, my eyes were opened and I began to see this “tree of heaven” everywhere. It was as if I was awakened or, in hip culture, I became “woke.” This modern term is “associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, signaling awareness of injustice or racial tension. It became a word of action. Activists were woke and called on others to stay woke.” If you’re listening, the phraseology is everywhere. The host of the 2020 Golden Globe awards chastised the woke crowd of hypocritical Hollywood stars.

Another term that is pervasive, but often floats under the radar, is intersectionality, explained as the “complex and cumulative way the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, and intersect, especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.” Political correctness, climate change, social justice, environmental justice and economic justice all intersect in activist leftist philosophy.

The root word of politics is polis, the term for the ancient Greek city-state. In our time, politics is the interactions of our people, culture and country.

This week my purpose is educational, to open eyes and ears and minds to the interactions and forces at work in our polis. As a doctor I know a diagnosis must be made before treatment can be applied.


I am woke! Are you?