Social Progress: Tear Down the Idols

It’s almost Mother’s Day.  I started to think about my mom, and then got to thinking about mothers in general.  I’ve come to the conclusion that if there is ever any good social progress, a good mother was behind it.  And if there ever is any social decline, mom wasn’t consulted.  Occasionally there’s a bad mom, she pushes the buttons and things go wrong, but most of the time, moms push us to greatness, and good things happen because of her.

Although I did not believe Barack Obama was the best candidate for president, and I voted against him both elections, he won and I in fact, celebrated his victory the first time.  It didn’t stop me from praying for him.  I prayed and continue to pray for his safety, and so far, thank God, those prayers have been answered right. I think, if Mr. Obama is a symbol of our social progress, then as a symbol, he needs to be protected.  There are crazy people out there, and we don’t need them messing things up.  But I also think we have a long way to go.

While the “Community to the Right” sat wringing their hands in anguish and despair over various positions Mr. Obama held, I sat with a different mood, although I’d say I lean toward the right more than to the left.  It’s because of a developmental condition I won’t get into, but my right leg is shorter than my left, just a tiny bit.  It’s been measured.

I celebrated because Barack’s victory was evidence of social progress.  Or so I thought.  He’s done an adequate job, I guess.  “Obamacare” and any other legacies of his terms are history, and next year we get to pick from a whole new crop of …  “meet the new boss:  same as the old boss.”  I still prayed, because if the kings’ heart is wrong, God can change the heart of a king, and if the king already wants to do what is good and right, God can enable them to be really great.  I didn’t know what kind of heart Obama had, and I didn’t think it mattered.  I just prayed.  I’ll do the same for the next President.

I mean social progress because he’s the first “African American” to hold the office. Born in 1961 and raised during America’s period of most intense social unrest, he settled in Chicago and got into politics.  I have my suspicions of any politician, moreso when they come from Chicago, land of “vote early, vote often, and when no one is looking, vote if you’re dead.”  One wonders how many previous elections were decided by zombie registrants.

While I celebrated America getting past the whole issue of skin color in regard to the presidency, I did not foresee the recent social uproars in various cities due to obvious, video-evidenced excessive force by law enforcement, or less obvious, claims of excessive force by law enforcement.  The cities keep piling up:  Missouri, Ohio, New York, Maryland, South Carolina.  I’m sure there are more.  I’m offended that one of our most trusted agencies, sworn to serve and protect, has a few who abuse their power, and by that, our trust.

It is one thing to joke, as in the 1975 musical “Chicago,” about firing “warning shots… into his head.”  In that musical’s “Cell Block Tango,” the ladies joke about what they had done:  a stabbing, a shooting, a poisoning, a blunt force trauma (if I get the Hungarian), etc.  It is entirely another to actually do the deed.  The real thing is not funny.  Ever.

I’m further offended because certain people have taken it upon themselves to attempt to mete out justice, wounding police officers who haven’t done anything wrong that we know of, who just showed up to make sure the assembly remained peaceful.  That First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees so far that we have the right peaceably to assemble:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It’s almost sacred.

However, when the assembly is not peaceable, there’s nothing in there that protects those who violate the peace.  Which leads to another offense.  I’m offended that certain individuals with criminal bents take a peaceable assembly and use it as an excuse to assault others, damage or steal property that doesn’t belong to them, or attempt to murder people.  The police have been injured, just for showing up to work, with rocks and bullets.  Stores have been vandalized, burned, and looted.  Those specific, individual, injured police, and those store owners, have nothing to do with the complaint.  They are only symbolic sacrifices to the idols of pride, anger, hatred, and greed.  And dare I say, ignorance.

All of this in the news made me start to wonder, perhaps we haven’t made as much social progress as I expected.  And nothing in any more recent news has made me doubt my doubts.  I am disappointed that we have come so short a distance toward any real social progress.  In some ways, the riots of the modern age are even more disappointing than anything I’ve read that happened in the 1960s, because we know better.  We should act better.

America needs a new King, a King like Israel’s Hezekiah.  Read the link and you’ll understand.  Read the whole thing.  By “king” I mean President.  We need a king that stands for what is right.  A President can try, I guess. I wish they had succeeded, but there’s only so much one man can do.  We might have made even further social progress in the last 50 or 60 years than we have.

I understand the anger that motivated people to assemble.  I also understand that there’s a place for anger and it isn’t an excuse to become a criminal.  I wish Obama would have told the law abiding citizens to go home, and leave the criminal elements in the street to be arrested and tried by the law enforcement.  And when the anger is just anger (by some it’s called “righteous indignation”), and not violence and a motivation to criminal acts, let the assembly commence, peaceably.
It causes me to wonder, are these crimes that are being committed motivated out of an unseen agenda to distract Americans from making the kind of social progress we should have already made?  When a man or woman is killed or assaulted or robbed by another man or woman, a little bit of the fabric of civilized society is torn and has to be mended.  We’re so jaded by it happening so much, we ignore the news; we aren’t sickened by it.  We experience those rips every day, and have too little time to make those repairs.  We need a season of peace, to mend our society, to stitch our America, our patchwork quilt, back up.  And to do that, we need the criminals brought to justice.

We need parents who work at getting along with other parents, who are supportive of civilized society and upholding the law.  We need parents who are friends with their neighbors, and with strangers, so kids can learn from their example.

We also need kids who stand for what is right.  Hezekiah was 25 when he became king, but he was the pride of his mom.  He was raised right, by a mom who didn’t put up with anything.  When they mention the king’s mom in The Text, you know it’s because the kid is good, which means mom did good.

Proverbs 10:1  The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

Proverbs 15:20 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.

We need kids who are respectful, who know what is good and what isn’t, and choose what is good even when no one is watching.  It requires training.  If our kids aren’t held accountable for their negative actions when they are young, they’ll grow up as weeds who corrupt the garden.  If they are held accountable and expected to do what is right, they’ll be fruitful and grow to be great.  Maybe your parents didn’t expect anything of you, but I do.  Maybe your parents didn’t help you know what to do.  But I say, in your heart you probably know what is right.  And you know how to do what is right, even if it might be difficult.  And you know not to do what is wrong even though your friends may do it, or even though it may seem like it’s easy.

It’s time to cut down the “Asherah Poles” that worship race pride, both WASP-ish and AA-ish, and time to celebrate the human condition, something we all share.  It’s also time to destroy the altar used to worship power, hatred, anger and greed, and build an altar that celebrates honesty, dignity, respect and generosity.

If it is true that “history is written by the people who won the war,” kids, then let history reflect that we rooted out the murderous, greedy, hateful, power crazed individuals, on both sides of the conflict, and if found to have committed crimes, brought them to just and fair prosecution.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it should.

Parents, tell your kids you expect them to do great things, and don’t accept and praise their behavior when they are mediocre, or less than they are capable of being.

Kids, be great.  Make me proud, and take pride in your positive accomplishments. Don’t do the wrong thing.  If you make a mistake, take responsibility and make it right.  Don’t settle for being average, because you all have the potential to be more.  If you settle, because you are lazy, people will not respect you, including me.

Be great.

Don’t let me down.  And don’t disappoint your mom either.


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