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Try introspection before wrapping yourself in a flag

By Murphey Johnson • Sep 13, 2017 at 12:00 AM

I believe that if you really want to be a good person, the best place to start is to always strive for self-reflection and consistency in thought and action. This means applying the same rules to yourself that you apply to others, and vice versa.

It means that you try not to contradict yourself in the statements that you make. It means that your internal beliefs may evolve over time with new experience, but that they should not simply change to fit your external circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, such awareness requires an ability to seek fault in yourself and to admit to yourself, as well as to others, when you discover that you have been wrong in the past. This internal feedback allows for course correction and growth in a positive direction.

In the short run, these goals may seem difficult, but in the long run, they make for a less complicated and more rewarding life. Consistency and correction lead to competence. Consistency and competence allow you to earn the trust and respect of yourself and of those around you.

When people choose a leader organically, they will naturally select a person who has demonstrated such qualities over time. In the world of professional sports, Elizabethton’s own Jason Witten is an outstanding example of such a true leader. His Dallas Cowboys teammates know that he can be depended upon to support them and to always perform at a high level.

Not all “leaders” are chosen by those they lead. Some choose themselves by dint of their own wealth or power. Intentionally staying away from politics for a moment, I’ll again refer to the world of sports when I say that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is a great example of such a self-appointed leader. I haven’t met Jason Witten or Jerry Jones personally, but from what I do know of them, if I had to pick one with whom to go into combat or be stuck in a survival situation, Witten would be the obvious choice. The same goes for selection of someone to be executor of my will or to take care of my dog when I’m out of town.

When filling any position of responsibility, you pick someone you can trust by virtue of their consistency, not because of their flashiness or the grand promises that they make. I’m not saying that Jerry Jones has not accomplished a lot in his lifetime, but I would not expect him to put anyone else’s interests ahead of his own in a pinch. Unfortunately, the same could be said of many of the “business leaders” of today.

Another class of “leaders” is made up of those selected and installed by their cronies to act as delegates or puppets. They may have specific qualities or backgrounds that make them useful in two different ways. One important feature is their ability to be manipulated by those who chose them. The other is their ability to fool those they purport to represent. In a democratic society, the people need to think their leaders identify with and are looking out for them. This can lead to all sorts of sometimes comical, sometimes scary and sometimes sad efforts to appear to be one of the regular people.

As state Rep. Matthew Hill’s chosen creature, state Rep. Micah Van Huss lacks the consistency and competence to be an organic leader. He also lacks the personal accomplishment to be a self-appointed leader. That leaves him trying get out in front of the crowd by following the example of President Donald Trump. This took him off script in his recent Facebook post and subsequent interview with the Johnson City Press.

His usual, reliable topics of God, guns and abortion were joined by an attempt to wrap himself in the “rebel flag.” At one point, he seemed to confuse the Stars and Bars with a post-war stretch version of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, though maybe he actually does know the difference and is simply inspired by both.

Between Old Glory, the Marine Corps flag, the Christian flag, the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy, the Second Confederate Navy Jack and (one might hope) the flag of Tennessee, how does Van Huss manage to even move, let alone avoid suffocation, in all that wrapping? I suppose such a feat actually does involve some skill.


Murphey Johnson of Johnson City is an engineer. He can be reached at murph@ murpheyjohnson.com .

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