Dysfunctional Society

autumn11In reviewing the world news, which happens to include the St. Louis area, I have to ask myself: why?  Why is there so much bad news? And what can I do about it, other than to sigh and pray that someone else will be able to “fix things.”

As I ponder and pray, I remember the times in my life which were most out of control – when there was hurt in abundance and very little hope.  My problems were not so much a reflection of society’s problems, but inner turmoil caused by messed up relationships.  And so, I suspect, society’s problems are more a direct result of personal choices made by individuals than the vague terror of the “evils of society.”  It is individuals, making free choices, who feed the widening gap between love and hate, life and death, God and alienation.

I lived in L.A. during the Rodney King riots and I saw how crazy things can get when anger gets the upper hand.  But I had to wonder then, as I wonder now, was it really about a single incident?  Is our societal fury really caused by societal injustice, or more directly by dysfunctional family issues much closer home? Could it possibly be that parents have lost touch with their children, children with their parents, that husbands have lost touch with their wives and wives with their husbands?  Could it be that in aborting millions of our babies, we have killed off the solution to our hurt?  That we killed the best part of ourselves by choosing lifestyle over life?  When we choose not to go to church because we have sports or other activities, are we choosing something other than God as our God?  Could our larger problems stem not so much from an ambiguous “they” but from deep inside our family problems and from inside our confused, misdirected selves?

As I look at the Jihadists slaughtering innocent people in the name of God in Iraq, I can’t comment on family issues other than to say that something is driving those people crazy. It is madness to think that one should murder men, women, and children to please the God who made them. I remember reading about the German soldiers who herded millions of Jews and Christians into gas chambers on the premise that they were making a better world.  There is plain, ordinary, madness and no talking in the world will change humanity’s susceptibility to that.  Even if we knew the stem causes of such thinking, it would not stop the Jihadists from carrying out their devastating ambitions.  Some things can’t be counseled away.

But I do know that our society must be fit to meet the larger challenges of this world, and we won’t be able to do that if we are fighting each other.  Americans need to come together and remember who we are – who we have been called to be.  Once upon a time, we rose out flag for freedom – not from something but for something.  We believed everyone had a right to worship God in their own way.  We are fast losing that tolerance in our intolerance of anything that does not reflect our personal view. How can you tell real tolerance from intolerance?  By the fruit.  If we have to attack, kill, maim, or destroy someone to make out view dominant, we’ve lost our case.

When I read the news and see the devastation around me, I quickly grow overwhelmed. But there is something I can do.  I can raise strong, healthy, children who know they are loved and are capable of loving others.  I can teach them that truth and justice do exist and are worth living for.  I can pray and offer personal sacrifices for the good of my family, my country, and my world. I can care for us all without drawing lines between those I should love and those I should hate.  I can remember God exists and He cares the most.  I do not need to be God.  He will take care of justice in His own way – in His own time.  He does not ask me to know what He knows, but rather to love as He loves.

Perhaps the cure for our dysfunctional society and hurting world starts at home.