Overcoming Cynicism, Even After You’ve Seen How the Sausage Is Made

An excerpt from ‘Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good.'
Overcoming Cynicism, Even After You’ve Seen How the Sausage Is Made

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good won an award of merit in Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards.

Living in Washington, D.C., for many years now, I have come to the conclusion that while the world at large may criticize the city for its hubris, “the Beltway mentality” and all, the reality is that the city is cynical. It is a surprise to the innocent, but twisted virtues that vices are, hubris and cynicism nourish each other, the one the breeding ground for the other. Vices are always like that, skewing what it means to be human, becoming vicious in the end and destroying what might have been.

People come from all over America and the world wanting to put their shoulders to history. For six months or six years they may try, and then inevitably conclude that Washington is too much of a mess—and anyone who knows, knows that it is a mess. But the question which was first asked in the Garden, primordial and perennial as it was, is asked again of everyone who comes to town:

Knowing what you know, what are you going to do?

Many decide to leave, and they return to Des Moines or Austin, sure that they have tried Washington and found it wanting. In the globalizing political economy of the twenty-first century, others come from Egypt or India, and often they too return home, now knowing Washington and its ways, determined to make their future in their own society, drawing on the best and worst of what they learned. Others stay and commit themselves to the hard task of “doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God,” even as they know that Machiavelli got to Washington before Micah.

And still others cynically work the city that is now theirs, making sure that they get ...

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