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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hitler, Hillary, Paul, and Spock – The Needs of the Community

I saw this image floating around on the Facebook today and it bothered me – for a couple of reasons:

Firstly – I am increasingly dubious of quotations found on the internets without sources.  And I have not found a source for either of these alleged quotations.  I’ve found them both repeated frequently across the web, but I can’t find any source material.  The closest that I can find for the Hillary Clinton quote is that she said it in 1993, but nothing more specific than that.

Perhaps they did, in fact, say these things.  But so far I haven’t been able to discover where or when.  If you have a citation, please let me know.  I would like to see it.

Secondly – Even if they did, in fact, say these things, I’m not convinced that it’s such a bad idea, even with the inclusion of Hitler in the meme.  I know that Hitler is the Godwin's Law bugaboo of the internets, but he can’t be given so much power.  Hitler loved dogs – does that make all dog lovers suspicious?  Hitler was a vegetarian – does that mean all vegetarians are nefarious?  If Hitler were quoted as saying "I love my mother," would that make anyone who also expressed a love for their mother someone to be distrusted?  (Please do not read this as a defense of Adolf Hitler or the Nazi government.  It is not.)

The idea that individuals must consider the needs of the society is not an evil, anti-Christian idea.  In fact I’ve been hearing it taught since I was singing choruses in Sunday school class.

J-O-Y, J-O-Y,
This must surely mean
Jesus first, yourself last
and others in between
(sung to the tune of Jingle Bells)

I know – I’m often very skeptical and cynical about Sunday school choruses – but I find the same thought in the words of the Apostle Paul:

"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others." – Philippians 2: 1 – 4 (NRSV)

This does not mean that we are to be passive submissive doormats.  But it is a Christian value to think of others, to work for their good, to live self-sacrificially so that others may live better.  To label this as an evil ideal is to ignore or to disbelieve the words of our scriptures. 

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