Cross my heart and hope to die or cross my fingers and know I lie?January 23, 2016
Sometimes the right hand and left know exactly what the other is doing
Does your left hand know what your right hand is doing? Physiologically, yes. Organizationally, not always.
When we encounter incongruent directives or conflicting information we often respond in exasperation that “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing!” By this idiom we mean that there is confusion between, what should be, interconnected and interdependent parts of the same organization. As citizens we trust that the various parts of the government are on the same page. We expect the right hand to know what the left hand is doing and we expect them to be moving in concert toward the mutual goals of national security and preservation of personal liberty. We are often disappointed.
Even more frustrating are those times when we discover that the right and left hand are intentionally out of sync. Case in point: U.S. national security specialists are providing clear information that the policy-political class in our nation is intentionally ignoring. What results is not only confusion among the citizenry but a negative assessment of America on the world stage where consistency between what you know and what you do has real consequences.
Utopian evolutionists believe the Dalai Lama, “I defeat my enemies when I make them my friends.” Pragmatists believe the Arabian proverb that, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But students of history know that after the mutual foe is vanquished, the enemy of my enemy is often revealed to not be my friend. These competing views are played out on the big screen in movies like Batman vs. Superman and Warcraft but they play out in the real world of geo-politics everyday.
We must face the fact that there are people who hate America and therefore Americans. There are people who hate Jews and therefore Israel. There are people who hate Jesus and therefore Christians. It doesn’t matter to the haters where the American, Jew or Christian is geographically nor how pacifist their ideology. And all the haters don’t neatly line-up nor do they stay put in distinguishable sets, but they hate us none-the-less.
The fact that the proverbial we may find common cause against some of them against others of them does not change the basic reality that they hate us, want to kills us, and are using us now for what’s best for their own preferred future.
So, who are our friends on the international stage these days? Who really shares our values? Who really desires a future of liberty, freedom and justice for all? Are we united like blood-brothers in pinky-promise, cross your heart and hope to die kind of partnership or with fingers crossed behind the back in knowing lies?
Would you be surprised to learn that Hating America is Official Saudi and Qatari policy?
According to the government’s official website, “hate” for non-Muslims is the official state position of Saudi Arabia. “But they’re one of our best friends in the Middle East,” you protest. Indeed.
For most Americans, crossed fingers are either a sign of wishing for luck or the freedom to lie with impunity. When it comes to U.S. foreign policy whose fingers are crossed, for what purpose and to whose advantage?
Originally, crossing ones fingers meant that you were relying upon the protection of the Cross of Jesus Christ in whatever situation you faced. Clearly that’s not what Uncle Sam nor the Ayatollah mean in this cartoon.
So, back to the issue of the right and left hands. When working at cross purposes and out of view of the public, goodwill is not the aim. That could not be further from the origin of the idiom nor its purpose.
The opening verses of Matthew chapter 6, just before Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray using what we call the Lord’s Prayer, he says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. …when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
God knows what’s going on in our heads, in our hearts, in our negotiations and yes, behind our own backs. You can cross your heart and hope to die or you can cross your fingers in a knowing lie and God still sees.
So, what do you mean when you cross your fingers and what does it mean to deal personally or politically with those whose fingers we know are crossed behind their backs when they say they are our friends?