Wednesday, June 27

Planned Parenthood's Eugenic Racism

On this day in 1939, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood announced the organization’s new “Negro Project” in response to requests from southern state public health officials—men not generally known at that time for their racial equanimity. “The mass of Negroes,” her project proposal asserted, particularly in the South, still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among Whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit.”  The proposal went on to say that “Public Health statistics merely hint at the primitive state of civilization in which most Negroes in the South live.”

In order to remedy this “dysgenic horror story,” her project aimed to hire three or four “Colored Ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities” to travel to various Black enclaves and propagandize for birth control.

“The most successful educational approach to the Negro,” Margaret wrote sometime later, “is through a religious appeal.  We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the Minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Of course, those Black ministers were to be carefully controlled—mere figureheads.  “There is a great danger that we will fail,” one of the project directors wrote, “because the Negroes think it a plan for extermination.  Hence, let’s appear to let the colored run it.”  Another project director lamented, “I wonder if Southern Darkies can ever be entrusted with . . . a clinic.  Our experience causes us to doubt their ability to work except under White supervision.”  The entire operation then was a ruse—a manipulative attempt to get African Americans to cooperate in their own elimination.

The program’s genocidal intentions were carefully camouflaged beneath several layers of condescending social service rhetoric and organizational expertise.  Like the citizens of Hamelin, lured into captivity by the sweet serenades of the Pied Piper, all too many African Americans all across the country happily fell into step behind Margaret and the Eugenic racists she had placed on her Negro Advisory Council.

Soon taxpayer-supported clinics throughout the South were distributing contraceptives to African Americans and Sanger’s science fiction dream of discouraging “the defective and diseased elements of humanity” from their “reckless and irresponsible swarming and spawning” appeared at last to be on the road to fulfillment.  Planned Parenthood had its first real success in social engineering.

Sunday, June 24

The Lesser of Two Evils?

Tryon Edwards (1809–1894), theologian, editor, anthologist, biographer, and great-great-grandson of Jonathan Edwards

“Between two evils, choose neither; between two goods, choose both.” 

“Credulity is belief in slight evidence, with no evidence, or against evidence.”

“Facts are God's arguments; we should be careful never to misunderstand or pervert them.”

“Most controversies would soon be ended, if those engaged in them would first accurately define their terms, and then adhere to their definitions.”

“Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.”

“Sinful and forbidden pleasures are like poisoned bread; they may satisfy appetite for the moment, but there is death in them at the end.”

“The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers, rather than fill it with the accumulation of others.”

“To rejoice in another's prosperity is to give content to your lot; to mitigate another's grief is to alleviate or dispel your own.”

“We should be as careful of the books we read, as of the company we keep. The dead very often have more power than the living.”

“What we gave, we have; What we spent, we had; What we left, we lost.”

Saturday, June 16

A Familiar Library

“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them be your acquaintances.”  Winston Churchill

Friday, June 15

Unstring the Bow

“Only the man able to rest and relax, to laugh and play will be able to fight and struggle, lead and guide. Only the man who knows when he has come to the end of his energy will be able to expend even greater energy.” Robert Taft 

At the end of the thirteenth century when the Norman English bowmen began to pioneer the powerful new military technology of the long bow, they discovered that the more elastic and flexible a bow remained, the more useful it would be when battle came. As a result, they learned a host of new maintenance techniques—fine herbal oils to rub into the wood, leather sheaves to seal out moisture, and storage niches far from the drying effects of the hearthside.

But they discovered that the very best precaution that a bowman could take for his weapon was simply to unstring the bow when it was not in use. To release the tension, relax the pressure, and relieve the strain allowed the bow to last longer, snap back faster, and set arrows to flight further. A bow that was never unstrung would quickly lose its effectiveness. A bow that was never relaxed became useless as an offensive weapon.

The same principle applies to people. In order to be effective in our work, our calling, and our destiny, we need to be fresh, rested, and ready. In particular, leaders need to know how to release the tension, relax the pressure, and relieve the strain.

Leaders need to be able to blow off steam. They need to know how to laugh, have some fun, get their mind on other things, and focus on something other than the crisis at hand. Leaders need to refuel, refresh, and recreate.

Unfortunately, we don’t do that sort of thing very well—especially in a time of crisis. A principled leader is likely to feel guilty for not focusing on the problem constantly. We tend to think that diligence should somehow supersede the human physical capacity.

There is a time for battle, for confrontation, and for engagement. But when the clash has passed, it is essential that we learn how to relax. A bow that remains perpetually strung loses its elasticity—and thus, its effectiveness. Marriage, family, and friends ground us, secure us, and preserve us. Faith, hope, and love are the things that matter most.

Thursday, June 14

Isn't It Amazing What We Can Do If We Don’t Really Care Who Gets the Credit?

No man or woman is an island.  There are no successful Lone Rangers—not in business, not in politics, and not in life.  Loose canons foil the best strategies.  Wild cards trump the best intentions.  Feral cells infect the healthiest organisms.  Rogue agents jeopardize the securest operations.

If we are going to be effective we need to have others who know us and to whom we ultimately answer.  If we are going to be successful we need to be accountable.  We need to be team players and team-builders.

Leaders are much more concerned about getting their work done, accomplishing their priorities, and fulfilling their calling than they are about getting credit for doing it.  They are focused on the tasks at hand.  They are driven by principle and goals, not by power or glory.

John C. Maxwell has memorably stated that, “Collaboration is multiplication.”  If we are willing to work with others, to yield to someone else’s expertise in an area, to put cooperation above our own individual interests, and to allow others to succeed in their own areas, then we will get much more done than we ever dreamed possible.  Two heads really are better than one. 

Henry Ford once said, “Success in any enterprise begins when we acknowledge what it is that we do not know, not when we trumpet what it is that we do know.”  He lived worked in light of the old adage, “A humble man who builds a team to compensate for his weaknesses will always go further than the prideful man who builds a team to complement his strengths.”  He often admitted that he had no idea how to solve every mechanical or technical problem that might come up in manufacture automobiles, but he had men on his staff who did.  “I don’t need to have the answer to everything in my head,” he said, “as long as I know how to hire smart guys who do.”

Team building maximizes effort, recognizes diversity, utilizes a wise division of labor, and provides checks and balances to any enterprise.  You would think that we would welcome the input of others, that we would seek to build bridges of cooperation with them, that we would try to compliment their efforts and have them compliment ours, and that we would embrace the opportunity to coordinate our resources, perspectives, and opportunities.  Unfortunately, team building does not really come very naturally to most of us.

The fact is, none of us really likes to admit it when we need help.  We value our ability to go our own way, to do things on our own, and to stand alone against the tide.  We cherish our self-reliance.  We cherish our independence.  Besides, working with others can be complicated.  It can be messy.  It necessitates sharing glory and sharing blame.  And we are loathe to do either.
Accountability to a larger team also exposes us and opens us up for closer scrutiny.  It is ultimately impossible to hide forever behind the facades we erect.  Accountability eventually reveals our mistakes—and none of us likes to admit it when we are wrong.  We all have defense mechanisms that spring into place whenever anyone ventures too close to the restricted zones of our lives.  Our guard immediately goes up whenever someone even hints at our foibles, our faults, or our sin.  The process of admission, confession, correction, and repentance wounds our pride.  It is among the most difficult things we ever have to do. 

Early in life we learn to “look out for number one,” to “pamper ourselves,” and to “encourage self-actualization, self-awareness, and self-esteem.”  As a result we have succumbed to an epidemic of selfishness.  We have become terribly self-absorbed, self-concerned, and self-consumed.

But the modern cult of self-service and self-satisfaction is contradicted by the whole of history.  Throughout the whole of the past, wise men and women have demonstrated the great value of team building.  They have shown us the value in humble reliance on others. They have willingly shared credit and glory and prosperity with others, knowing full well that they have hardly given anything up as a consequence.  On the contrary, they have understood the fact that cooperation, accountability, and collaboration offered them far and away the greater benefit.

“Never be ashamed to own you have been in the wrong; ‘tis but saying you are wiser today than yesterday.”  Jonathan Swift

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”  William James

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  Winston Churchill

“Learn from the mistakes of others—you don’t have nearly enough time to make them all yourself.”  Tristan Gylberd

“A wise old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?”
Edward Richards

“The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.”  Benjamin Franklin

“Wisdom is oft times nearer when we stoop than when we soar.”  William Wordsworth

Tuesday, June 12

Laboring for the Poor

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is commonly heralded as the greatest preacher to grace the Christian pulpit since the Apostle Paul.  His metropolitan Tabernacle was undoubtedly a dynamic force for righteousness in Victorian England.  But his many years of ministry were marked not only by his masterful pulpiteering, but by his many labors on behalf of the poor and needy as well.

On this day in 1861, he erected an almshouse for the elderly.  In 1864, he established a school for the needy children of London.  In 1866, he founded the Stockwell Orphanages.  And, in 1867, to these many enterprises was added still another, a private hospital. 

Explaining this furious activity on behalf of the poor, Spurgeon said, “God’s intent in endowing any person with more substance than he needs is that he may have the pleasurable office, or rather the delightful privilege, of relieving want and woe.  Alas, how many there are who consider that store which God has put into their hands on purpose for the poor and needy, to be only so much provision for their excessive luxury, a luxury which pampers them but yields them neither benefit nor pleasure.  Others dream that wealth is given them that they may keep it under lock and key, cankering and corroding, breeding covetousness and care.  Who dares roll a stone over the well's mouth when thirst is raging all around?  Who dares keep the bread from the women and children who are ready to gnaw their own arms for hunger?  Above all, who dares allow the sufferer to writhe in agony uncared for, and the sick to pine into their graves unnursed?  This is not small sin: it is a crime to be answered for, to the Judge, when He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”

Tuesday, June 5

Running toward the Roar

“Gospel preaching always requires great courage, both to execute and to tolerate, for it must ever needs be a running toward a lion’s roar. And, we run together." Thomas Chalmers

Monday, June 4

America's First Constitution

The first American constitution was ratified by the colony of New Haven on this day in 1639.  The entire community assembled in a newly erected barn where the eminent Puritan pastor John Davenport (1597-1670) preached and prayed earnestly—and then proposed fundamental articles for the governance of the colony.  

His four articles were simple: First, they were to affirm that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain the perfect rule for government by men in commonwealth, church and family. Second, they were to affirm that they were therefore to be guided by the Scriptures in all matters. Third, they would covenant to establish a local church and erect a house of worship in which the congregation would meet. Fourth, only then would they establish a civil order to implement the articles and ensure prosperity for themselves and their descendants.  And fifth, this new civil jurisdiction was to be ordered federally and covenantally by the consent of the governed.

The society they created was thus carefully organized along Biblical lines.  Twelve members were chosen to rule the "colony" and seven of them would also serve as "the seven pillars of the church."  In addition, they elected a chief magistrate and took steps to incentivize the economic productivity of the colony.  

This was the first truly autonomous government by colonists in the New World.  The inhabitants of New Haven swore allegiance only to their own civil government and not to king or parliament.  After 23 peaceful years, they were compelled, in 1662, to unite with Connecticut.  Davenport, who was the founder of the colony and it's college, Yale, fought this merger fiercely, fearing that the community's uniquely Christian distinctives might well be lost amidst the effects of conglomeration.  Alas, his fears were ultimately realized.

Nevertheless, despite its short-lived tenure, the Fundamental Articles of New Haven set a pattern of Christian federalism and covenantalism that would be the hallmark of American constitutionalism for generations to come.