I believe that what we call the economy is (at least largely) a human institution. The markets and regional components of the economy are driven by human actions. Human actions are sometimes driven by the thoughts and feelings of the person acting. When I talk the economy up, a couple people might come to think the economy is looking up. When the President, Speaker of the House, Rush Limbaugh, talk the economy up, many more people might come to think the economy is looking up. If the economy being up is taken as a good thing, i.e, manifested in people having basic job security with the possibility of wages to support their families, then I’d think talking the economy up to be a good thing.
I’m tired of people talking the economy down. Yes, yes, I know the “facts.” I know that by many current measures it is down. But why do I have to go by these measures? Why must I take description as the only valid illocutionary act? All the reported measures are selected from many more that could have been selected. None of the measures (unless they’re meta-measures, that is, measures of measures) are perfectly current. All reflect human action driven to a great extent by thought and action. Therefore reporting on the measures feeds back into the system and affects the measures. We bring up just any thing by talking about it. I’m not a prosperity gospeller. But our attitude does have an impact on systems for good or ill.
Our president is a human. As the one currently at the top of the heap, the influence of his words and actions is tremendous. As a human being he can be talked up or talked down. I’m tired of people talking him down. (But then I was tired of people talking Bush – and Clinton – down in their time.) Whether I agree with his policies, decisions and actions is irrelevant. I believe he will be better off if I talk him up than if I talk him down.
I have not yet lived under a president who – in my estimation – was right about everything, even everything I think is important. But so what? Even if I’m right about everything (doubtful), my calling as a follower of Jesus is to edify people. “Edify” means “build up.”Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” With the examples he uses one could add another phrase, “Even if he/she is wrong.”
I even wish Mr. bin Laden of Al Qaeda well. My wishing him well, however, is on my own terms. He is not my lord and master. When I wish him well, I express a desire that he would turn from sin to Jesus. I pray for him to learn of the truth and grace manifested in Jesus, so that he might become a follower of Jesus. Admittedly, Mr. bin Laden might not wish me to wish him well on those terms. That doesn’t matter any more than the intentions of the executioners mattered to the one who said, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
I understand what those who express a wish that our president fail are trying to say. I don’t have any evidence that they’re followers of Jesus, so I’m not terribly surprised. Wishing your enemies well – even if they’re only ideological enemies – is profoundly unnatural. For me, it takes Jesus in my life.
But speaking simply on a practical level, I think wishing the failure of political opponents (instead of clearly and only aiming at policies or ideas or practices) is not good for anyone. I always want the president of my country to succeed. My wanting doesn’t do much good (who am I, after all). But I pray. When I pray for people to succeed (I confess I rarely use such a vague term in my prayers) I pray for their success on God’s terms. As when I pray rightly for my own success, I recognize that my personal standards of success and of what counts as success are not what ultimately counts. Judgment day will not be a self-grading exam. God’s word is what counts.
In this light, I believe that talking people down – especially people at the top – beyond being disrespectful, is counter-productive. It hurts me and innocent bystanders as much as hit hurts my target. Most assuredly it guarantees that the person I’m talking down will never listen to me. And I want people to listen to me. While I don’t want to talk people down, I do think it is good to argue with them. Can you imagine that – Arguing in love! I take that as a variant of “Speak the truth in love.”
So let me put it plain and simple: In the same way that talking the economy up is better for the economy and those impacted (“enmeshed” might be a better word), talking the president up is better for him and for those who live under his leadership.