Russell and Duenes

The Fear of Humiliation

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LBJBy the accounts of those who knew him well, Lyndon Johnson was largely ruled by a fear of humiliation. This does explain a lot about his life as a politician, and though it’s not always the case that what we fear comes upon us, humiliation was a good part of Johnson’s lot. As Senate Majority Leader in the late 1950s, Johnson was literally large and in charge. He ruled the roost and ran the Senate like a boss. He was a master of all the parliamentary and procedural tricks, and he commanded persuasive respect and power. According to Robert Caro, he knew how to read others as well as anyone, but the one man he failed to read correctly was John F. Kennedy. This meant underestimating Kennedy in 1960, and having to settle for becoming Kennedy’s vice-president, which also meant that Johnson suffered a fall from the tremendous power and influence he wielded in the Senate to a largely meaningless position as the number two man. Of course, Johnson ultimately got his hands on the big prize, but even then, he was brought to his knees by his escalation of Vietnam and the domestic strife connected with it that spiraled out of control in the late 1960s. I have to wonder what role Johnson’s fear of humiliation played in his inability to extricate the country from Vietnam.

Three of the Ten Commandments have something to do with money and possessions: You shall not steal, do not work on the Sabbath, and do not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

John Piper has an interesting thought about gratitude. He wonders what happens to a people when ingratitude settles into the human springs in the high mountains of a culture and begins to trickle down into the lowlands, as it were. In other words, what is the practical outworking of a large scale rejection of gratitude within individuals, families, institutions and the culture as a whole? What kind of people do we become over the decades, particularly if, as Piper says, ingratitude amounts to a lack of dependence on God?

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

February 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm

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