On Being Hope

Family Issues — By on August 30, 2008 at 1:56 pm

By John Mark Reynolds
Let me tell you about the woman I was lucky enough to marry.
Hope graduated with honors from an excellent private college. She is an outstanding trumpet player and a fine teacher in a private school. She has worked with college students for over a decade helping them become better students and people.
She chose to have four children and is raising them splendidly. Her homeschooling has given them a fine classical education and an appreciation of virtue. She has been involved in putting together support organizations for students like her children and giving advice to new mothers.
She reads widely and keeps well-informed on the issues of the day. She has attended education and philosophy seminars in many U.S. states and several countries.
Almost none of this work has been paid. As a result, she is frequently stereotyped by people who will not bother to know her and insist on measuring the value of work by the size of the paycheck. Her experience in forming organizations, keeping them alive and helping them flourish is discounted, because the organizations were not centered around money-making or governance.
Her wisdom and insight gained from talking to hundreds of young men and women is often trivialized, because she gained it by listening to conversations at a dining room table and not in an office.
People will often assume that she has no interest or knowledge in current events or societal crises, because she did not gain her wisdom in organizational structures that they acknowledge.
This has often made me angry, but she has remained cheerful despite it all. Her success in the social sphere has given her a measure of confidence and she does not get her self-worth from others.
The Three Spheres of Activity
Cultures are built through at least three spheres of activity. The first area of important work is government. The second is business. The third, nearly forgotten by some but no less vital than the others, is the social sphere that includes the family, volunteer work, and all the social services that are not produced by the state or by business.
It is good for a nation when the three spheres interlock and when wisdom from one type of experience enriches the work of another. There is, of course, expertise gained through concentrated activity in one area of activity. The different seasons of a person’s life means that he or she will often find himself moving from one type of activity to another. For a few years a man or woman may do mostly unpaid work in the social sphere and in another season paid work in the world of business.
Success in one sphere does not guarantee success in another, but there are rare individuals who can “do more than one thing.” Such people should be cherished, because they bring fresh insights to old systems along with their competence. We recognize this easily when an outstanding business leader like Mitt Romney moves from paid employment to the government sector. Business frequently hires aging political stars as Disney did with Senator George Mitchell, chairman of the board in the nineties.
We are not so good at seeing it when an outstanding social and civic leader like Sarah Palin moves into government. We discount everything she did that was not in the governmental or paid business arena.
That is foolish and wrong.
The Sarah Palin Woman
Sarah Palin was part of her family business, a community leader, and became an outstanding political leader. She is star in every area, something people who knew her in each role quickly recognized.
She is the rare talent who can navigate all three worlds (social, business, and government) and can flourish.
She is a quick study and brings to each role the insights gained from other spheres of success. There are truths mothers learn and she learned them well. There are things you learn doing hard physical labor in a family business and she learned those. There are vital insights you gain running social organizations that are not centered in profit and Palin grasped those. There is something you gain when you are the chief executive of a state larger than most nations and Palin flourished there.
Based only on her political experience, Palin would commend herself to America, but that is not all she is. To pretend that this is so is to denigrate the importance of the work of millions of Americans, most of them women. Not all these women can move from one area to another as Palin has done, but they will know how blessed we are to have in Palin a woman who can do so.
Palin brings the home-truths to government, but also governs well. Her government experience is vital to indicate to us that she is ready for this bigger government job, but her outstanding success in civic, family, and business areas should not be discounted or viewed with a patronizing attitude.
She is a person whose life did not consist merely of being an outstanding community leader, family leader, and business leader, but it includes success in all those roles with proven competence in governance.
She is a Renaissance woman, but for some bigots if that breadth of experience was not gained in paid employment or only in government than it counts less or does not count at all. That is offensive, though hard-working women like Palin mostly ignore it and cheerfully go on being awesomely competent.
My wife is one of those millions of women and she sees in many sneers about Palin (reducing this brilliant woman to the “beauty queen”) yet another example of some peoples inability to value her experience. The Democratic Party should be warned that they are playing with electoral fire if they act as if all of Palin’s life experience is not of value. My wife will not get mad, but she is getting active.
These women organize, they vote, and like Palin they often have large numbers of built-in precinct workers called children.
Let me stress that it is not that they believe that just any individual leader in the social sphere could be president. They do think their experience should not be ignored in the rare case of a brilliant talent who can do both.
Should we be shocked that this is possible? We have long allowed military and business background to be brought to the table. This is natural in the case of military experience since the president (the role the vice president must be prepared to fulfill) is commander in chief, but other experience must count given the present reach of government.
For good or bad, the modern state now deeply impacts the business world. Business leaders rightly rejoice when “one of their own” who understands this impact shows that rare and precious ability to switch spheres of activity and make their concerns known in the halls of governing power. Not all business leaders can manage the switch, as H. Ross Perot proved, but some can.
Mitt Romney, the man I backed for president, was no more qualified by government experience to be president than Sarah Palin . . . if we only count their time in politics. However, Romney’s business background was correctly seen as a huge asset by most Americans. He faced little “qualifications” buzz though he was only a one-term governor of Massachusetts.
That was proper.
There should be no double standard for Sarah Palin’s equally rich non-governmental experience. The fact that she has not spent her entire adult life in government is a good thing . . . providing we also know (as we do) that she can make the transition.
Does the government impact our social structures and families any less that it impacts business?
Are the skills gained in the PTA, civic leadership in small towns, and in family business of less value than those of the corporate tycoon?
Shouldn’t every person rejoice that social policies and decisions will be made in a McCain administration with at least one person at the table who has shown outstanding civic, social, family, and business competence?
Where have we seen such a model for leadership training commended? Palin herself, and the millions of leaders like her, could tell you. Read Proverbs 31 and realize what she did for the years she was not a full-time government worker. Know how greatly a healthy culture values this work. Then stop and be stunned that for a decade and a half Sarah Palin showed that a few of these Proverbs 31 women can also be political dynamite.
Women like Palin do not ask for respect, they earn it. They may not like it when their previous work is denigrated, but they move on. That is wise.
That does not mean that the rest of us have to put up with narrow-minded foolishness that thinks only paid work gives valuable experience, that writing your own autobiography twice is always more interesting than helping run the family business and educating your kids, or that chattering as a guest on Sunday talk shows gives a better education than doing hard physical labor.
A wise culture would look at the sum of Sarah Palin’s life and her experience and be thrilled to say:
“Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”



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  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    One bit of advice to McCain . . . Evangelicals are very interested in Palin (hence all the posts here) because she is an Evangelical . . . but she needs to give a substance heavy interview and speech soon (now!).
    My suggestion: do an “drill oil now interview.” I have seen her talk about this and she knows her stuff. She has the details of this done cold . . . and it is an issue that matters. People love her personal story . . . now show she is smart and knows a great deal about a big issue in this campaign.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds John Mark Reynolds

    One clarification: Evangelicals are interested in Palin because she is Evangelical, but should not vote for her for that reason.
    I supported a non-Evangelical in the primary race.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    How do we choose a candidate? I have a 3 post series on this at Scriptorium . . . including a plug for Obama from an Evangelical Obama voter.
    Americans obviously should look at a candidates platform and competence. Religious views (as they have political implications) are one component in making that decision.

  • http://benedictionblogson.com Bene D

    If Sarah Pulin is Trig Pulin’s grandmother (and subsequently his adoptive mom) why would someone who is picked as VP not tell the truth about that?
    Sphere of influence 3 butting up against sphere of influence 1?
    If Sarah Pulin is Trig’s grandmother, would a Proverbs 31 woman put sphere of influence 1 over sphere of influence 3?
    Because Ms. Pulin has entered sphere of influence 1, I guess the question of who Trig was born to is going to have to be cleared up.

  • Mike Toreno

    This post is a joke, right?

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Excellent Post – I’ve FB’d it.

  • http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com John Mark Reynolds

    Bene,
    I hope this was not really you. What are you saying? Are you saying her youngest child is not her own?
    Surely not!
    That is as mad as the weirdlings on the right still wondering if Senator Obama (for whom I have great respect) is a US citizen. That is ugly and stupid when the right does it.
    Have I misunderstood your post? We may disagree, but I have had respect for your basic decency. This would be shameful if you are arguing with no evidence and against all evidence that her precious baby son is not her own child.

  • http://www.sufficientscruples.com Kevin T. Keith

    Sarah Palin [was part of her family business] occasionally crewed on her husband’s fishing boat, [a community leader]served on some volunteer civic boards, and [became an outstanding political leader] was elected to the city council, and then as mayor, of a town of 9,000 people, where she spent all but two years of her political career before being nominated as first in line to the Presidency of the United States. She is [star] completely unknown outside her home state in every area, something people who knew her in each role quickly recognized.
    She is the rare talent who can navigate all three worlds (social, business, and government) and can flourish.
    She [is a quick study] has to learn everything relevant to the federal government, international policy and diplomacy, and high-level politics, from the ground up, by next January, when she will be expected to be the second-most qualified person in the world to serve as President of the United States, and brings to each role [the insights gained from other spheres of success] whatever she learned on a fishing boat and while serving on the city council for a constituency smaller than the Loge Deck in Yankee Stadium. There are truths mothers learn and she learned them well, which constitutes a major qualification, in her case, for the Presidency. There are things you learn doing hard physical labor in a family business and she learned those, none of which, strikingly, are useful as President, except when you’re George Bush pretending to be a rancher. There are vital insights you gain running social organizations that are not centered in profit and Palin grasped those, as did every Shriner, Scoutmaster, and Welcome Wagon organizer in America, all of whom are also unqualified to be President. There is something you gain when you are the chief executive of a state [larger than most nations] with more empty wilderness than most nations, a population the 4th-smallest in the US and somewhere between that of Bhutan and the island of Comoros, and which shares no borders with any other part of the United States, and Palin flourished there.
    Based only on her political experience, Palin would commend herself to America as a possible mayor of a town with a population of, maybe, 10,000 next time, but that is not all she is. To pretend that this is so is [to denigrate] no more than to realistically assess the importance of the work of millions of Americans, most of them women, whose non-political, non-electoral work, in small-scale environments, does not make them qualified to be President either. Based on such experience alone, [Not all] none of these women can [move from one area to another as Palin has done] represent the United States on the international scene, advise the President on national policy, and assume the responsibility to become President at any moment, without warning, as Palin claims she is qualified to do, but they will know how blessed we are to have in Palin a woman who [can do so] inspires such laughter while making that claim.
    Palin [brings the home-truths to government] is apparently given to sappy statements about home and hearth, or at least attracts supporters who can think of nothing better to say about her background, but also [governs well] has negligible governing experience, no experience at all on the larger stage on which the Presidency is played out, and has been sued in both of her only two executive positions for misuse of authority, the facts of which, in both cases, are not in dispute.
    You can’t be serious. Honestly, if any Democratic candidate, at any time, had nominated someone with that thin a background, what would the Republican response have been? Think of the constant demonizing of experienced politicians like John Kerry, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, not to mention Obama – not just the ceaseless personal attacks but the knee-jerk dismissal of their experience, knowledge, and skills – that the GOP engages in. What would they possibly have said about Palin if she’d been a Democrat? But no factual issue matters at all for the GOP.
    Her utterly negligible background simply disappears, because she’s a Republican. She’s qualified to step in as President of the United States at what would, by definition, be a crisis moment, because she was Miss Congeniality?! Maybe you can say that with a straight face, but you must know everyone else knows you’re not serious – and neither is the GOP’s presidential campaign ticket.

  • http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com John Mark Reynolds

    Kevin,
    In fact, I have shown great respect for Senator Obama, who is not very qualified on paper. Read my blog over time.
    I am simply not that partisan. I really like Heath Schuler . . . and think he would have been an interesting pick for Obama. I said that he was a rising star on my blog recently. I also praised Senator Casey as a rising star.
    Senator Obama is a stunning political talent. His rapid rise makes sense when we acknowledge that fact. I would suggest Governor Palin is also a great talent, though we shall see. McCain has taken the chance that she is a natural like Obama.
    I think she is qualified to be vice-president:
    1. because she has been a popular and effective governor of a state at least as important as Howard Dean’s Vermont.
    2. she has been a successful civic leader.
    3. she has strong communication and people skills (as far as we can tell).
    4. she is bright and a quick study.
    5. she has strong political skills (which matters!).
    If all those things are true, she seems like a good bet to make a decent “fill in president” particularly if she has a year to be vice-president. She seems a good gamble . . .
    I have no reason to think her weaker than Romney with his four years as governor of Massachusetts or Bill Clinton. Clinton was governor longer, and though he was effective, I don’t think he confronted a crisis (challenging his own party) comparable to Palin.
    You may disagree which is your right. We shall see as the campaign unfolds is she is ready for prime time.
    To call her background negligible is laughable . . . and that seems partisan posturing . . .

  • http://benedictionblogson.com Bene Diction

    Hi Dr. Reynolds:
    “I hope this was not really you. What are you saying? Are you saying her youngest child is not her own?”
    Yes, it is me.
    The question has been out there for some time.
    “That is as mad as the weirdlings on the right still wondering if Senator Obama (for whom I have great respect) is a US citizen. That is ugly and stupid when the right does it.”
    I was illegitimate, I was adopted as an older child. I found out more when I reached adulthood. We have grandparents in our family who have adopted their special needs grandchild. Our family doesn’t keep that adoption and the circumstances a secret either.
    If I ran for office and my family went under a municipal, provincial or national spotlight because of my ambition, these life events would be facts for media to explore and the public to know.
    Does that me mad and my family shocking, weird, ugly and stupid?
    Surely not!
    I think it would be shocking, weird, ugly and stupid and foolish if I lied, covered up or dodged in my quest for office.
    It’s not a tough question for the Palin family since they are now in the US spotlight.
    Yes or no?
    “This would be shameful if you are arguing with no evidence and against all evidence that her precious baby son is not her own child.”
    I’m not arguing anything, I’m asking.
    If asking this question lowers your respect for me, that’s your choice.
    No adopted child is shameful.
    If Trig has been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Palin he is their legal son with all the rights and priveledges that procedure brings.
    Is Trig her biologically precious baby grandson; adopted precious baby son?
    Yes or no?
    When someone adopts a daughter or son’s child, what would be the reasons for hiding it?

  • DaveD

    So, is Joe done for good or just taking time off?
    DD

  • DaveD

    Here’s a picture of Palin while pregnant. http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p312/CO757300/Other/Sarah%20Palin/SarahPalin-13.jpg
    Now, will the Dems stop accusing her of lying and trying to smear her with the Christian Conservative base for which she was recruited to attract? No. Those who want to believe it will keep claiming it, even in the news.
    It’s a smear campaign. Nothing less. Certainly nothing more. Maybe they can produce some forged documents about it; they;re good at that.
    DD

  • http://triablogue steve hays

    On the “question” of Palin’s pregnancy:
    http://www.polartrec.com/node/3944

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    Today is evidently the day that the McCain campaign “dumps” all their oppo work on Palin (showing they did vet her).
    We now know Palin’s daughter is pregnant.
    We now know Palin’s husband had a DUI 22 years ago.
    I assume that means we can stop the slander about Palin and her own child.

  • http://wheatstoneforum.com Rachel Motte

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN2944356420080901?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=22&sp=true
    The rumors of Paylin’s supposedly faked pregnancy have been proven false…

  • http://benedictionblogson.com Bene Diction

    Slander?
    It’s a question with a yes or no answer.
    Ms. Palin is going to be officially nominated as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, correct?
    I thought it was the job of a party to vet their picks for your government’s executive branch.
    Like it or not, this has gone world wide.
    The McCain campaign said it released this to counter internet rumors that Palin’s five-month-old son was actually her daughter’s baby. This was on the McCain website:
    ARLINGTON, VA — Today, Sarah and Todd Palin issued the following statement regarding today’s Reuters story:
    “We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.
    Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”
    Editor & Publisher attempted to keep up with what media and the party does and doesn’t know.
    I’m genuinely curious and I was the first time I asked.
    Is sphere of influence 3 taking priority over sphere of influence 1?
    I’m inclined to think culture and lives are a bit more complicated than at least 3 spheres of activity.
    Stepping onto a national stage is a sphere in itself.

  • Russ

    Sarah Palin as an individual is an impressive person, but as a political figure, hasn’t anyone noticed that Republicans tried this kind of move before with Obama? In the 2004 Illinois Senate race, when Jim Ryan’s sexual exhibitionism became public, the Illinois Republican party desperately tried to split the black vote by renting Alan Keyes an apartment and sticking him on the ticket. Granted Palin is nowhere near as wacky as Keyes, but does the national Republican party really think they can split the women’s vote and draw Hillary supporters?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I think she has a lot of impressives on her resume but she is not a President and the VP spot is supposed to be for someone who can be President. It’s ok that this spot often goes to someone who is more lackluster than the top of the ticket (Gore to Clinton, Bush to Reagan, Ford to Nixon) but it is not ok that this goes to someone who is not ok to be President.
    That the person who choose her has been making a stink about experience, and especially foreign policy experience in a time of war, leads one to suspect that McCain suffers from the same arrogance that has resulted in the dismal failure of the Bush Presidency.
    The previous attempt to justify her on this blog has been the attempt to argue that the VP spot is some type of training ground to be President. It seems this obviously false argument (VPs often fail to become Ps) has been thrown overboard and for that we can be a little bit grateful.

  • Mike Toreno

    What Reynolds did in his post here is, he decided based on partisan considerations to claim that Palin is qualified to be vice president, and he then went backwards from the conclusion to find factors that he claimed justified the conclusion. A typically dishonest, idiotic, and vapid post.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/an-wasillan-on.html
    Nice summary of Palin’s local gov’t career:
    As mayor gov’t spending went up 33% and taxes collected rose 38% during a period of low inflation.
    She cut property taxes on large corporate owners and raised regressive sales taxes, even taxing food.
    City debt went from $0 to $22m. The borrowing went neither for a library or sewarge treatment plant the city needed but a $1m park and a $15m sports complex which, because the city didn’t have clear title to the land, sits in litigation 7 yrs later.
    As mayor she tried to oust the city librarian for refusing to remove books that she objected too. City residents had to rally to his defense.
    As governor she took the oil surpluses generated by the oil price increase and distributed them to individuals. At the same time, necessary road construction was funded by borrowing money.
    Needless to say, she happily supported the ‘bridge to nowhere’ and plenty of other pork projects only switching sides when the bridge became subjected to nationwide scorn.
    She has a history of outsting people who know how to do their jobs and replacing them with personal cronies that owe 100% loyality to her and only her. The culmination of this was/is the brewing troopergate scandal where she tried to have a police officer fired for the offense of going through a custody fight with her sister. Think of Hillary’s personality problems multiplied by a factor of ten or so.
    What’s coming out is not a pretty picture and this is just the beginning.

  • ceecee

    She is disqualified by the Word of God. 1 Timothy 3:12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Palin failed. Her teen is pregnant. Please don’t disparage God and His Word to the world by arguing in her defense.

  • http://triablogue steve hays

    ceecee writes:
    “She is disqualified by the Word of God. 1 Timothy 3:12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Palin failed. Her teen is pregnant. Please don’t disparage God and His Word to the world by arguing in her defense.”
    I didn’t know that Sarah Palin was the husband of one wife. I also didn’t know that she was running for the Vice Diaconate of the United States. Please don’t disparage God and his Word by ripping it out of context.

  • http://triablogue steve hays

    ceecee writes:
    “She is disqualified by the Word of God. 1 Timothy 3:12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Palin failed. Her teen is pregnant. Please don’t disparage God and His Word to the world by arguing in her defense.”
    I didn’t know that Sarah Palin was the husband of one wife. I also didn’t know that she was running for the Vice Diaconate of the United States. Please don’t disparage God and his Word by ripping it out of context.

  • http://triablogue steve hays

    Boonton writes:
    “I think she has a lot of impressives on her resume but she is not a President and the VP spot is supposed to be for someone who can be President. It’s ok that this spot often goes to someone who is more lackluster than the top of the ticket (Gore to Clinton, Bush to Reagan, Ford to Nixon) but it is not ok that this goes to someone who is not ok to be President.”
    A poor comparison since many of us don’t think that Gore was ok to be president. That’s why we voted against him. Many of us also don’t think that Joe Biden is ok to be president. You’re drawing a liberal conclusion from a liberal premise—which only a liberal would credit.

  • Mike Toreno

    Steve hays, yes, you might not have thought Gore was OK to be president, but that’s because you’re retarded. If the past eight years have shown us anything, they’ve shown us that.

  • ceecee

    Hey Steve, I guess you believe that women are held to a lesser standard than men are, and that the Presidency of the United States is of less importance than a Deacon in a church, and that God’s Word is too unworthy to judge those who run on it.

  • Will in Dayton Ohio

    Because Jesus was a Community Organizer and Pontius Pilate was a Governor….
    I REALLY didn’t care for her mocking Community Organizers. As selfishness, greed and materialism continues to be the driving force behind today’s NEO-con movement, I would have liked to have seen her call young Republican TO public service and volunteerism.
    For all of his faults, I will never deny the noble nature of Sen. Obama’s early works with the poorest residents of Chicago. He lead those folks to demand the removal of asbestos from the apartments of the poor & elderly. He could have been earning a six figure income, but instead kept his $10,000 per year Community Organizer job. There are many things that I do not like about him, but I would never laugh at his dedication to the impoverished.
    That was the life of Christ and that is the life we should all aspire to. America has been walking the wrong path, our arrogance allows us to assume we are to “good” to wash the feet of lepers & beggars. Gov. Palin should have praised the calling to help the poor, elderly and the sick. She could have started the process of correcting our moral failures…
    Instead, she(Palin) mocked the very thing that our collective souls needed: A Christ inspired life of giving and being our brothers keeper.
    That negative first impression, combined with her family issues will be hard for her to overcome for me.
    For now, I will remain an Independent…and keep praying for signs of compassion. My vote will remain up for grabs…

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