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The dangerous lure of power in times like these

The present crisis in the United States is worse than most realize.

There is a troubling dynamic that works subtly in nations passing through critical eras: The more intense the crisis the greater the lure of power.

The dangers of our time loom on every horizon — spiritual, political, economic, social, cultural. We face in these times corruption in churches, pandemic, disintegration of society, ever-widening division in the nation, shattering of moral boundaries, dissolution of family, uncertain leadership, intensifying lawlessness, perversion of education ... the list could go on. Add global threats squeezing in from every direction and an immigration crisis of unprecedented proportions.

“We have to do something about all this!” goes the urgent cry in governing institutions from the White House to the congressional house to the state house to the county seat to the city hall to the town hall.

And that’s when the lure of power and the loss of freedom begins creeping through the land.

Extreme measures are needed for extreme times goes the rationale. Of such panic dictatorships emerge, tyrannies arouse, and freedoms are lost.

Obviously, we need strong leadership in times like these. However, the stronger the leader the more important he or she understand the differences between power and authority.

George Washington got it.

John Adams wanted America’s chief executive to be called ...