“Good morning Michael, this is Jimmy Carter…”
That’s how my day started last Monday when we went into our studio and pre-recorded an interview with former President Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter was president while I was in high school. He was elected in November of my freshman year and defeated by Ronald Reagan a few months after I graduated. I am very familiar with his presidency, both from an historical as well as political perspective. He was not a beloved president – to say the least. But he has redefined the role of “former president.” If you want to feel humbled, click here to read a short list of this man’s accomplishments.
My experience this week, interviewing Mr. Carter, gave me pause. Jimmy Carter. The man was a universal punch line for years while I was growing up. Even today, when pundits and cocktail party wannabes shoot political fish in a barrel, they conjure the name of Jimmy Carter. But should they? Excuse me… should we?
I have a growing distaste for the manner of political discourse in this country. Cheap shot artists and under-informed Facebook phonies seem to be winning the battle for the attention of the American electorate and we are all diminished by it. Like anyone else I am not immune to rubber-necking at the daily car crash of politics that appears on my TV. But I’m called to rise above all of that. I’m challenged to do better than that.
In our interview, President Carter reminded us that, when he was running for office, candidates referred to one another as, “my distinguished opponent”. Seems archaic, yet this took place while I was in high school! (Which was not, as my kids like to think, in the stone age.) When was the last time you heard anyone from the right refer to President Obama as “President Obama”? When was the last time you heard anyone from the left even consider an idea that generated from the right?
Lastly, as those of us who profess to be of the Christian faith: When was the last time Ephesians 4:29 meant anything…? (“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”) This stuff either matters or it doesn’t. We cannot expect to be taken seriously as believers unless we are willing to give that verse the same weight we give others.
Wouldn’t it be startling to see an “Ephesians 4:29 Pledge” form all of the candidates? Conversation, exchange of ideas, even disagreement… only without “unwholesome talk”. I know, I know… Pie in the sky. But as I’ve said before, I like pie.
The entire interview with President Carter airs this Saturday, January 28 at 9AM Eastern on WLQV-AM 1500 in Detroit. You can hear it live on the Internet [Click here].