“I” Will Be The Death of “Me”
When we were school children, our parents and teachers insisted that we put others first. When I would say something like, “Me and Tom are goin’ down to Mr. Hancock’s store to sell some coke bottles,” Mom would correct me. “Tom and I, not me and Tom,” she'd say.
It took years for us to learn, because a language is learned not from instructors but from hearing it and practicing it regularly among local speakers. Local speakers in my little town were solidly conditioned to use “me and whoever” rather than “whoever and I.” In fact, if I had said, “Tom and I are going to the store” in front of my friends, they would laugh me out of town or at least drop me from the A list of our social circles.
Sometime in early adulthood, I realized that there were two different issues involved in this conflict. One was grammatical, having to do with when to use “me” and when to use “I”. The other issue, referring to yourself in second place, has moral dimensions. So let’s agree always to put others first. Let’s also recognize that it has nothing to do with grammar. “Tom and I” is no more correct grammatically than “me and Tom” unless “me” is used as the subject of the sentence the way we did it as kids.
But here’s the thing: Using “I” as an object is just as incorrect as using “me” as the subject. And folks who want to sound highly-educated do it all the time. Just listen to your radio and TV. The news anchor is likely to say something like, “The city-wide celebration will be hosted on air by Zubin and I.” What? “The celebration will be hosted by I?” No, no, no. “The celebration will be hosted by me!” The inclusion of Zubin or a thousand others does not legitimately change “me” to “I.”
Unless. Unless it becomes regular usage. Languages change, you know. Especially English changes. Frequent usage of this error could force a new rule that justifies the switch from “me” to “I” in the objective case. Then “me” will be useless. It will be the death of "me." The slippery slope will soon lead to the obliteration of all distinction between nominative and objective case pronouns, and our declining English language, majestic though it once was, will suffer yet further impoverishment.
From ESTRANGEMENT and RECONCILIATION
by Herschel E. Moore
If we see the Eden story as merely a recounting of factual events, we gain nothing from it except having someone to blame for introducing sin into the world. But if we are able to see that Adam and Eve are humanity, we will see ourselves in them. We see our own insatiable greed for more and more even when we already have an overabundance. We see how easily we are manipulated by appeals to our pride or threats to our ego. We see our preference for the flattering lie over the painful truth.
The following essay is from an article in our church newsletter in May of 2007.
2007-05-23 By Herschel E. Moore
It looks like I am going to have to give my political advice early this round. I usually wait until we have at least entered the presidential election year, but things are already heating up for the campaign, and there are a couple of things we need to remember:
In choosing to side with conservatives, liberals, or moderates, remember that conservatives are narrow-minded and backward. They are cold, judgmental folks, who care about no one’s welfare but their own. And liberals are worse. Liberals have no morals. They hate America, and want to see it overrun by Vandals and Visigoths. But it is the moderates who are the most disgusting of all. They are cowards who inhabit the middle of the road along with yellow stripes and dead skunks.
Of course, each of these portrayals is absurd. They present each of the three primary political postures, not as they actually are, but as they are portrayed by their opponents. The fact is that you and I know plenty of open-minded, compassionate folks who are conservative. There are even a few liberal men and women who actually love their country and teach their children to be morally upright. And some of those moderate types are in the middle precisely because they are honest and courageous enough to resist the over-simplified lure of the extremes.
Wouldn’t it be a great world if all of us were as morally upright as the conservatives depict themselves, as open-minded as the liberals like to think they are, and as balanced as the moderates wish they were?
My hope is that you and I will be perceptive enough not to believe the labels that are stuck on the candidates by their opponents, but to look behind those labels and read the true content of each individual. It is important that we choose the best leaders for our country, and the propaganda of the political parties and their surrogates may not be very helpful in making that decision. What will be helpful is for each of us keep our head on straight and our heart in the right place as we begin to consider the qualities most needed in the leadership of our nation.
One more thing: Some of you may think that I should make no comment at all on national politics. My opinion is that failure to provide guidance in such an important aspect of Christian discipleship would be dereliction of duty. I do not intend to suggest how you should vote or who you should vote for, although you will hear many preachers on TV and radio doing exactly that. What I do intend is to remind you that the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is as applicable in politics as in any other aspect of life.
Peace, Hope, Love, Joy,
On Confederate Statues
This discussion needs some clarity, and I hope this brief essay will be helpful in that regard. Those who face off on the issue often do not listen or try to understand the feelings of one another. One side is made to feel guilty of racism while the other is treated as if they are hypersensitive or even stupid for feeling offended by a statue that honors the Confederate States of America. We must begin by admitting that there really is some racial hatred in our country. We also need to recognize that some of us might think we see racist attitudes where there are none.
With these things in mind, consider a couple of examples:
Here on the town square is a larger-than-life statue of a Confederate warrior on a horse. Let’s say he is a general in full dress uniform, sword drawn, indicating “charge!” He was known as a fine Christian gentleman that did a lot of good things, but does this monument portray that? Not at all. Can we understand why some people could legitimately feel insulted by such a tribute? Yes, of course. Then let’s remove this anti-American statue and erect one that honors the way the man demonstrated Christian love for God and neighbor.
But here is a statue honoring, let’s say, a school teacher who once fought in his state’s Confederate militia. He is depicted standing by his desk in the clothing he wore as a teacher. There is a plaque that gives the dates of his teaching career and tells of his life’s work. Should it all be torn down because he was once a soldier in the Confederate army? Of course not. The monument has nothing to do with the C.S.A.
A monument, particularly a statue, is meant as a tribute to a person for what she or he accomplished or for what he or she represents. It does not mean that person never did anything wrong. If that were the criteria, there would be no monuments. Rather, it is a way of remembering what the person did that was right and good. It is a way of saying to the world, especially to our own youth, “What this person stood for is something we should all strive for. It is worthy of emulation.” America’s monuments reveal the values of our country.
With this understanding, I favor the removal of Confederate statues. But some have said I am trying to deny history. The opposite is true. It seems to me that Confederate monuments do not preserve history but distort it. By exalting individuals who posed the greatest threat to our basic American values of justice and equality they mislead us. Admiring an over-sized statue of a Confederate general gives us absolutely no understanding of the Civil War or of what we can learn from it. If we are truly concerned with preserving that history we should familiarize ourselves and our children with the documents of that era. See, for example, A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union. It is clear from this and from Jefferson Davis’s indignation at the idea of racial equality that the reason for secession was the preservation of slavery and the dominance of white people over black people in general. Heroic statues do not even hint at such facts. History definitely needs to be remembered, but not all of it should be memorialized. Museums and text books are better able to tell the story.
IN ALL THINGS, CHARITY
Ed Erler of California State U. in San Bernadino favors separating children from parents seeking asylum at our border as a deterrent to others who might consider coming.
"Immigration policies should serve the interests of the American people and of the nation—they should not be viewed as acts of charity to the world," concludes Erler.
The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the government's right to "admit [immigrants] only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe." We agree. But this does not preclude admitting refugee families and asylum seekers even if sheer charity is our only motive.
Contrary to the claims of those who fear our country will be overrun, the fact is that being too restrictive in immigration policy will be just as harmful as being too open. Our country cannot last long as the "land of the free and the home of the brave" unless we continue to exhibit the charity that has been the ideal of America from the start. No wall, however extensive, can long isolate us from the suffering of our world, but charity and the example we set by it can go a long way toward alleviating that suffering.