The Natural Order of Things

Stop for a minute and think this through.
Stop for a minute and think this through.

In a public setting recently, someone said they were, “a Christian first, a family man second, a countryman third, and a member of this group fourth.”

His assertion was intended to express his life’s priorities, and I understood his point, but I don’t agree that you have to put them in an inflexible order.

If I said I was a journalist first, what if I arrived on the scene of a tragedy I am covering for my newspaper, but was the first on the scene? This has, in fact, happened to me on more than one occasion, and in that situation, I was a humanitarian first and a journalist second.

On several other occasions, I had to set aside my newspaper duties to help my wife. In that instance, I was a husband first and a journalist second.

What I’m unpacking here is that while we can define ourselves as we want, it’s not always helpful to remain stubbornly, even anti-socially, locked into such a hierarchy.

And of course I could stomp all over this person’s assertion with, “I am an atheist first,” which in some instances is true, but in others it’s damaging to the greater good.

In group settings, I have always politely and respectfully bowed my head and waited for prayers or pledges or songs to end, and I was never threatened by their presence or what they advocated, even though it was advocacy of some things I consider untrue and sometimes ridiculous.

Maybe it’s tribalism. Maybe it’s fear of change. I hope that those who chose to remain rigid or closed-minded or afraid will one day see that the road to freedom isn’t paved with flags or salutes or doctrine, but with compassion.

Some sage advice: the way to truth is decidedly NOT to deny all other perspectives.
Some sage advice: the way to truth is decidedly NOT to deny all other perspectives.


  1. Fully agree, in fact, you bring up things here that help me put my life in greater perspective now that I am single and will be for the foreseeable future. I especially appreciate your remark about “the greater good” and setting aside your own perspective for others, if only temporarily. We react to the things that threaten us; the less we find threatening, the better off we and others will be. There are so many ways to avoid being antisocial and disrespectful, and heading into life’s third act, I want to be cognizant of them.

  2. When President Reagan was about to be put under to remove the bullet from his lung in April 1981, he quipped to the surgeons, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.” The chief surgeon replied, “Mr. President, today we are all Republicans.”

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