Wednesday, January 09, 2013


There is a lot of talk about guns in the wake of the Connecticut shootings.  Our regional paper conducted some interviews with local leaders about their feelings on gun control, particularly the idea of stationing armed officers in schools, etc.  One of those questioned was the superintendent of a nearby school district.  He said that he didn't want to comment on gun control, but that he would discuss school security.  When asked about an important subject, he didn't answer.  I know him.  He's a pretty sharp guy.  I'm sure he has a point of view on guns.  He just wasn't willing to offer it up.  Wise man.  He knows that no matter what he says, he will alienate half of his constituency.  He knows that he is in the education business, not the gun lobbying business.  So he is discrete.  He stays focused on the bigger mission.

I wish more Christian leaders would learn the art of non-disclosure.  Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean that you need to offer it up.  Masterful leaders learn to keep their big trap shut, about a whole host of topics that aren't "the main thing."  This can be taken to extreme, of course.  Where a leader will not disclose enough about what is really going on.  But for every leader who is too tight-lipped, there have to be ten who talk too much, about too much.  Loose lips sink ships.
This, to me, was one of the better takeaways from Spielberg's movie Lincoln, chronicling the president's political maneuvering in passing the thirteenth amendment to the constitution of the U.S.A.  At the time when a bill abolishing slavery was making its way through congress, something else was happening.  The war-weary south was reaching out to bring an end to the war.  Not the end of slavery, just the end of war.  Lincoln slow-played those negotiations, while he pushed hard for the amendment, fearing that those in the the northern states would lose their gumption on the real issue if offered a cease-fire.  But the rumor was circulating that the south was offering a truce.  Lincoln dodged.  When Lincoln was asked whether Confederate delegates were in Washington, he deftly replied, "I don't know of any delegates in Washington."  (The delegates had been directed to go to Hampton Roads, Virginia.)  

If it would have been me, knowing how much pain people were in over the war, I would have been tempted to say, "Yeah, the rebels might be ready to capitulate!"  But saying that would take all the focus off of slavery and onto pain relief.  Lincoln was too great of a leader for that.

No comments: