Being Uplifted Watching the Impeachment Hearings

Having watched three ambassadors testify at the Impeachment hearings and listening to the stories of their work on behalf of our country, I am feeling good about government for the first time in a long time.  I felt some pride in the obvious professionalism, intelligence and even bravery of these State Department employees.

Marie L. Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Photo: U.S. State Department. Wikimedia Commons.

This morning in particular, hearing former Ukranian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch speak and hearing of her story working in demanding jobs in dangerous places, and hearing live tweets from the president that continue to degrade her, I was reminded of what Meister Eckhart teaches.  “Who is a good person?”  He asks.  “A good person praises good people.” 

It is hard not to see Yovanovitch as a good person trying to do good in the world, both to the Ukranians attempting to stave off further Russia’s invasions and to protect our country at the same time. 

We can have differences of ideas about policy and the rest, but we don’t have to resort to personal attacks.  Is someone a good person who cannot praise good people?  Eckhart thinks not.

Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas, “Doctor Communis”, between Plato and Aristotle, Benozzo Gozzoli,1471. Louvre, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.

While watching these hearings I was working on a book on St Thomas Aquinas in which, among other things, I was examining his teachings on ethics and morality, much of which he takes from Aristotle (a “pagan” and scientist freshly discovered in Aquinas’ day thanks to Muslim scholars in Baghdad who were translating him into Latin for the Europeans.) 

Aquinas says “It is a great thing to do miracles, but it is a greater thing to live virtuously.” 

To live virtuously is a challenge.  An adventure.  Worth a lifetime of effort. And greater than a miracle!  That is why I was feeling so good today, because I saw three people in public life who seemed to have lived lives of service and caring and competence, i.e. a life of virtues in Aquinas’ language.  Why wouldn’t I—and others—be made glad by that when so many news stories are about lives of vice, malfeasance or selfishness, but rarely about virtue.

Icon of Divine Wisdom София Премудрость Божия) from St George Church in Vologda (16th century). Wikimedia Commons

Aquinas’ teachings on ethics and morality do not focus on rules or ‘Shoulds” and “Don’ts” but on virtues which he defines as powers.  “Human virtue is a participation in Divine power” he declares. 

He celebrates therefore our capacity for prudence and wisdom, for justice and love, for courage and fortitude as an expression of the Divine in us. 

Developing virtue is a life-long effort—you are never fully there—and circumstances of culture and one’s own development (including one’s wounds and experience) will always affect our decision-making.  I feel we have been exposed to a few such people in public life this week.  Reason to praise.

See Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 326, 350.

Banner Image: The Hall of the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo from live feed at Live.House.Gov.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize human virtue as “a participation in Divine power?”  Does this teaching inspire your appreciation of good people who aspire to do good work and good service?

Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way.  The result is exciting!

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14 thoughts on “Being Uplifted Watching the Impeachment Hearings”

  1. Avatar

    Matthew clearly heeds the advice, pray with the scriptures in one hand and the newspaper in the other. In our world “newspaper” must be thought of also as TV news. The closing statement of Marie L. Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, gave me a jolt of hope and praise. I wrote to friends that I thought her closing statement is a definition of who is a “patriot”. It is a lesson in civics and reminder to all of us that as Matthew says there are good people in our midst and Matthew in praising her is fulfilling the definition he cites : “A good person praises good people.”

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear David,
      Well said! Thank you. Here we have a lived example of Eckhart’s teaching, “A good person praises good people.” Or, as we say in the vernacular, “It takes one to know one.” These impeachment hearings invite us to take the higher road, the path of virtue. Ethics have become attractive again!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar
    Barbara Schwartzbach

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I too, feel hopeful after hearing Marie Yovanovitch testimony. Wonderful advice, turn the constant news off to calm your soul. There are good people who love and care about humanity. Find them and grow by sharing goodness. I look forward to my mornings because of this site. Hope to make one of your seminars soon.
    Best to you and those you love.

  3. Avatar
    Mary Friedel-Hunt

    I watched the hearings this week as I recuperated from a week of caregiving my brother. I did not miss a word and was surprised that I felt so uplifted and more hopeful than I have in many months. I have all but lost hope that our country/world will ever be one of peace and integrity but watching Kent, Taylor and Yavonavitch testify this week filled me with hope. There are people of integrity and it was clear this week. It was also clear that there are and always will be the opposite but good shall triumph. I read so many posts on Facebook about how difficult it was to watch the hearings but for me…it was a gift of hope. Thanks for putting this out there for those who have lost hope. We can not give up.
    Mary Friedel-Hunt Madison WI

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Mary,
      Thank you for writing about the rise of hope through these impeachment hearings. What a transformation, millions of hearts have been turned by two days of testimony by two honorable speakers. And the transformation of our newscasters’ demeanor was striking that evening. It was as if they found their footing again. All the flamboyant lies, the bullying and the bickering were gone. They, and we, were allowed to be caring, intelligent and hopeful again. What a moment! How fortunate you were to watch it happen. Now we must nurture the hope, keep it alive. It will be challenged.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  4. Avatar
    Anne Marie Raftery

    Positive Energy is contagious – I felt it as Marie Yovanovitch testified from her inner core of goodness and smarts.
    Thank you, Rev. Matthew Fox, for highlighting this “good news” in your Daily Wisdoms which is a major inspiration
    in my daily routines!

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Anne Marie,
      Thank you for mentioning the way Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony has caught on and is multiplying in hearts and minds. This is living proof of the spiritual virtue that Matthew has urged us to hone in our hearts, assuring us that one person can make a difference. Here, Yovanovitch’s even, honest, deeply respectful interview has shifted a nation’s understanding of itself.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  5. Avatar

    Thank you for this message about good people in government. I have not watched the hearings but got snippets from my favorite news source, Stephen Colbert on the Late Show. These people are examples of the best in public service, and it reminded me that there are many, many of these working behind the scenes and trying to preserve the government. The barrage of propaganda against government by those who have made great profits from it over the years is hypocrisy at its worse. I am grateful for those brave souls who continue to serve at great cost to themselves and pray that they will help hold us together. Whether we as a nation deserve to be held together is up in the air, in my opinion. This seems to be a time of great trial, the worst I have seen in my 76 years.

  6. Avatar

    thank you so much. That is exactly what I felt while listening to the ambassadors. I was enamored of their dedication, their true love of the country and I even felt so much more aware of what they do!! And yes it seems to be the darkest times right now. Virtue means more than ever before!!

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Joan,
      Thank you for your comment. These ambassadors’ dedication and virtue have touched so many of us – soothing the shouting matches, name calling, and bullying of the past three years still echoing in our heads – and reverberating in our bodies. I see this process a real life drama of the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality. Our long Negativa moment is now finally moving into the Via Creativa moment on our screens right in front of our eyes. Out of the darkest times, hope for a new human sensibility is being born!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  7. Avatar

    Thanks for your continual focus on goodness. This week we got to see 3 good people filled with courage, wisdom, and steadfastness. Thanks for highlighting these beautiful people

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Larry,
      Thank you for writing. I am sure I am not the only one who shares your appreciation for the goodness we have been observing during these impeachment hearings. Their courage, wisdom, and steadfastness have inspired the same qualities in me – and so many others. In the spirit of Thomas Aquinas, “Their virtue has created a miracle.”
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Thank you for writing, Joanna.
      I am sure that you have company in appreciating the essence of goodness that we are seeing and feeling during this impeachment hearings. I, for one, but also so many others. Like hibernating mammals, we are coming out from our own dark caves and finding like minded company everywhere. And we are taking up the virtues of prudence, love, and wisdom and connecting with each other. It is a virtue. And a miracle.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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