( – promoted by lowkell)
I do respect professionals — for the most part, in a great many ways, having learned the territory and practiced the skills confers real superiority on the professionals. I don’t want an amateur doing heart surgery on me, or even building my house.
But there are times when the professional is caught up in something it takes an amateur to overcome. Sometimes it’s a matter of not being too wedded to the conventional wisdom. For instance, we’ve seen an upstart “amateur” like Bill Gates somehow takes over an important industry from a giant like IBM, which had been in the business for generations.
But sometimes, the issue of amateur vs. professional is a matter of the spirit.
Bob Goodlatte, for example, is a professional congressman. Sometimes, that kind of expertise can be very valuable, because the congressman holds so much institutional memory that he can help make the Congress work more effectively and achieve good things.
But Bob Goodlatte’s way of being a professional doesn’t help anybody but himself, his party, and the powers that have made his party their instrument. His professional expertise is used against the people, and it is helping to degrade the nation.
Bob Goodlatte is not solving the nation’s problems. Instead, he’s a part of the number one problem the nation has: the destructive force that has arisen on the right, a force whose bidding he so willingly does, a force animated by a destructive spirit.
It’s especially when there are matters of a spiritual nature at stake that it is going to be amateurs who get the job done. Amateurishness is part of how the spirit works. When the spirit summons people, it is not governed in its choice by the professional bureaucracy.
The Bible is full of people who go forth as “amateurs” and do the work of making the good spirit, not the bad one, prevail. Moses, for example, was an amateur at governing Egypt’s course, while Pharaoh was a professional, born to the job of being Egypt’s absolute ruler. The amateur prevailed. Noah was not just a builder. He was also someone who’d been summoned to a task of spiritual import by the governing spirit of the universe.
Confronted by the professional force that the Republicans have put together in our government, it is up to us amateurs to build the counter-force that the country needs. It is up to us to plug into the positive spirit that is the opposite of the spirit of greed and lying and meanness and lust for power that animates the party our incumbent professional serves.
It is up to us to harness that force – the constructive force that stands for justice over injustice, for freedom over tyranny, and for life over death. This is the kind of force that assured the success of Noah and of Moses, and that can make us, too, surprisingly effective amateurs helping mend the injured spirit of our nation.
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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte. An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992. He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.