Shine as Lights to the World

JC at SoL

No dreams are too big, but sometimes we lose the courage to pursue them.  French Nobel Laureate André Gide writes that “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Fear keeps us holding onto the shore.

Time is running so fast, flowing like a river in our lives, sometimes stormy, sometimes with stillness.  We all encounter the world’s brokenness in different ways. For some we know there are more days behind us, then in front of us.  We struggle to find relevance in a changing world, which we helped create but sometimes do not understand.  When we were young, we never took advice, now we want to pass along the experiences and it falls on deaf ears.  Greek poet Heraclitus said it best: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Life is about change, and managing the seasons of our lives.

Many of us are not the person we desired to be as we thought we would be growing up.  Life has taught us many hard lessons.  We can feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.  We grasp to find the sweet memories from our past, discover the strength to face today and find hope for the future.  Amazing how we can get so lost in a broken world, and forget who we are—or whose we are.

When we strip everything back to bare basics, we are all the same.   We want to find love.  We want someone who knows that we are not perfect but treats us as if we are.  We want someone whose greatest fear is losing us, and we want to hang on to that love and meet challenges all couples face—together.  When they tell us they love us, we want to hear that conviction in their voice.  When those we love are with us, we want them present at the moment. We want to smile from within, because we know smiles are often faked on the outside.

We need to connect to God on a spiritual level, but we need another person to connect with on an emotional level.  When we find them, we have to hold on to them and value how blessed we truly are.  Being truly fulfilled mentally, physically, and emotionally is essential to being truly happy here on earth.  John Rzeznik, of the band Goo Goo Dolls, sings in Better Days: “I wish everyone was loved tonight, and somehow stop this endless fight, just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days.”

in a dark world, full of lies, hate, and confusion we can all find better days, by looking inside ourselves and being better people.  Hard to fathom, but you may be the only light in a dark world that some people will ever see.  We all have a mission to bring hope to the world and show a heart of compassion to others.  It is easy to judge and condemn, it is harder to engage with love and show kindness.  We should find something in life to be grateful for, and see our lives as a gift. And share that gift with others, not in isolation.

Those who bring hope to the world in the darkest of times and battle despair, inspire hope for future generations.  Light drives out darkness.  Nothing is ever lost, if hope is on your side.  Philippians 2:14-16 says:  Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.  Shine your light in the world, we need it now more than ever before.


JC Bowman, Random Thoughts on a Tuesday

Political Endorsements? Values Still Matter


French writer André Gide penned one of the most notable quotes when he wrote: “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” Gide was a depraved man, according to the standards of that day, and even as well as our own standards today.  His quote was indicative of someone searching to be himself, without betraying his personal battle over his lack of ethics.  It is similar today to many political endorsements.

I am always astounded at candidates that some groups choose to endorse, or groups who endorse certain political candidates.  Some endorsements can be very damaging to political candidates.  This leads to the question, why would the political candidate seek such an endorsement or accept money from an organization in which they do not share values?  Perhaps that candidate is in a failing political campaign and needs the money for a fledgling campaign?  Perhaps they are finally embracing their true values.  Is it a betrayal of values to even seek such an endorsement if you do not agree with the goals and objectives of the organization?  Most people probably would think so.   A pro-life candidate, for example, would probably not seek an endorsement from a pro-abortion organization or vice-versa.  Such a candidate would be branded a hypocrite.

The personal character of a candidate still matters.  Values such as honesty, reliability, and sincerity matter in life, and they matter on the campaign trial, especially when we elect people.  We need to elect politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say.  Elected officials who sell out their own values create cynical and dismayed citizens, alienate voters, and undercut their own credibility.  It is akin to the fruit of the poisonous tree analogy in the legal world.

Not only are many candidates willing to sell out their own values to the highest bidder, they are also likely to sell out their constituents once elected.  The insider game of election funding has impacted the well-being of our government.  The public policies that gets enacted if we keep electing these types of candidates, will only worsen.   We have seen good legislation stymied for untold reasons and transparency is no longer an option.   A vigorous competition of ideas should be welcome as it is a symbol of an effective system of government. When we fail to elect men and women of character, we get politicians committed to upholding the status quo and their own political preservation.  If that is the case both the fruit and the tree are poison.

Professional Educators of Tennessee does not endorse political candidates.  We work with everybody to strengthen public education.  Our members will choose, who they believe is the most qualified candidate at the ballot box.  They also know that we will never use dues dollars to fund the advancement of any politician, political party or agenda. While we may inform our members of candidates’ positions on educational issues, we do not tell our members how to vote or use our members’ dues dollars to pay for political campaigns. However, we do routinely monitor and inform our members of education-related legislative issues, and alert them of any legislation that has a direct impact.  We testify on legislation and work with agencies, elected officials and policymakers to develop and implement comprehensive strategies that address complex legislative, legal and regulatory problems impacting education statewide on behalf of our members. We do not spend tens of thousands of dollars to push for the advancement of non-educational causes.

Our political process must be welcoming to all citizens, resulting in representative, receptive and responsible government.  Politicians must be honest in who they are, and who they will be in public life.   We must ask those who are seeking political office if they really are who they say they are, or is it just a mask that can be stripped away?  Values still matter.


JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter @jcbowman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.