One-on-one interview with John Kingston about "American Awakening" | The trade
Ed: In your book, you talk about how you and your family created a mission statement to define your purpose. How can we find meaning as individuals?
John: We in modern society, including many Christians, mistakenly think that we are wired for happiness. We believe in the lie that the more successful we become, the happier we will be. The reality, however, is that we are wired for a much deeper and more meaningful purpose that God created us to fulfill when He brought us to the planet. To find our purpose, we need to understand why God made us and who He made us.
Ed: With that in mind, you're saying people need less than they might think. Can you give us an example of how more doesn't necessarily mean more?
John: Warren Buffet is an excellent example of this principle. He bought his humble home in Omaha, Nebraska in the 1950s and still lives there today. Even after the hundreds of millions of dollars he accumulated, he made a decision not to grow bigger with his living. I think he's a man who understands that the hunt for more and more stimulation is endless and can never really satisfy us. As Americans, it's so easy to get caught up in the idea that we will never have enough and we can never be enough. For people of faith we have to hold on to the truth and live it out, that God has made us different. He is the living water. After consuming it, we do not long for anything else. Our thirst is quenched. He is enough. We don't need anything more than just God.
Ed: How does this struggle for purpose and frugality play out in our current COVID-19 world?
John: We have seen how the negative effects of COVID-19 have exacerbated various existing problems in American society, namely that, despite belonging to the wealthiest nation on earth, we are depressed, isolated and anxious. And we have to do something about it, because in the last three years life expectancy in our country has decreased. What I call "death of despair" increases because of these negative emotions caused by the feeling of futility but also by a lack of connection. I think one thing that COVID-19 has shown us is that the virtual "connection" is not a substitute for the real thing. It's an incredible blessing in many ways, but we as humans are focused on fellowship. Nothing can erase that, and no substitute can replace it.
Ed: In your book you discuss how we are more similar than different. How?
John: When I ran for public office in 2018, I was privileged to have an incredibly diverse management team, both ethnically and politically. It was a great blessing to have so many perspectives, but this is rare in society. We mistakenly believe that our biggest problems are party-centered and that anyone who defies our opinion is the bad guy. But our biggest concerns, like caring for veterans, caring for orphans, reforming education, etc., are not specific to Republicans or Democrats, but rather American issues. These affect our country profoundly and we will not make progress as long as we are obsessed with who belongs to which party.
Ultimately, we are more alike than we'd like to admit. Real progress is only made when we embrace what we have in common and not focus on what makes us different.