Our hearts are broken as we view the aftermath of horrific violence on an American high school in Parkland, Florida. I am so sick of this scene! 25 senseless school shootings since the Columbine massacre of 1999 and all we hear is the same empty rhetoric.
Why did he do it? What was going on inside his mind? What set him off? Was he on drugs? Was he mentally ill? How did he get the gun? Was it his home life?
And then the resolve. We are going to do a thorough investigation! We will do whatever we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again! We are working with all parties to find out what happened! We pray for the victims and their families!
And then the gratitude. We thank our law enforcement. We recognize our first responders. We appreciate those teachers and heroes who demonstrated courage.
And then the blame game begins… It’s the guns! It’s the left! It’s the right! It’s the FBI! It’s the family! It’s the school, not enough security! It’s Trump! One year as President and it’s his fault? Really? Oh, and here is a new one… It’s the pharmaceutical companies! Oh, how we love to point the finger. Make no mistake, the blame is squarely on Nikolas Cruz, but more soul searching is in order.
And finally, the charge that we should not rush to judgement, while families are still grieving.
This is where I become so frustrated I want to scream! Really? No rush to judgement? If there is anything we need right now it’s good judgement. We all know what the problem is, but no one wants to speak it. It’s not politically correct to talk about it. It’s not popular. Oh, and to fix it, would take a prolonged resolve of all Americans. There is no microwave answer here. There’s no emergency pixy dust that will make this all better.
America needs to dig deep and understand what’s causing these terrible events. The source has not only produced this tragedy in Parkland, but other acts of senseless violence across the country. It even extends to problems facing our communities and a lack of accountability and trust in our institutions. I believe this week’s event in Parkland is just emblematic of a much deeper broader cultural problem.
One of the reasons I started a blog was due to a lack of moral clarity I see in our public discourse. I just can’t hold my keyboard back any longer. I am no special person. I am just a Dad, a husband, a neighbor, a business owner, a community leader, and a faithful member of my church. I am just someone who gets up each day earnestly trying to make a difference. But, I am heart broken by what I continue to see playing out across our country.
So, here are my thoughts on last week’s tragedy where 17 innocent children lost their lives.
First, my heart aches for these kids, their families along with the community of Parkland, Florida. But I am tired of the talking points that always seem to surround these terrible events. The level of denial is incredible. The pundits and agitators are out in force dividing and conquering on their own version of reality.
You can hear the noise:
- We need to get rid of guns!
- We need metal detectors at our schools!
- We need retired military and more law enforcement on our campuses!
- We need teachers with carry permits!
- We need to invest millions to make our schools safer!
- We need metal detectors at every entrance!
- We need to put more money into treating the mentally ill!
I am sure you could add your gripe to the list, but do these proposed solutions really address or explain the core issue? In my opinion, you could implement all of these measures and still not solve the problem. While the websites whirl and the pundits argue, the central problem remains. We don’t talk about it because its resolution requires our complete honesty and personal responsibility, two virtues not high on America’s wish list.
The central problem is our deteriorating moral culture in America!
Do you ever hear a serious discussion on this topic? No…because admitting this means each of us is responsible. Many years ago, I served a two-year church mission in the Philippines. Garth Andrus, my Mission President said to me, “You have to be careful when you point the finger at someone because you have three more pointing back at you.” Such great wisdom.
From seemingly every flank, the moral fiber of our culture is declining. I have watched this from my youth and so have you. Consider for a few moments the filth and cesspool our kids swim in every day. Most of it they hold in their very own young hands in the form of a smart phone, a portal to the worst of the worst with just one click. Consider this device alone. Much of the music and associated videos found there are laced with lyrics and images that are over sexualized and promiscuous. The endless Social Media streams rarely promote wellness, but feed messages that are inconsistent with strong moral behavior.
At a single click, our youth can view the most insidious threat of all, the plague of pornography. These images are polluting our young minds and can lead to so many other tragic emotional and relational problems. Not connecting with others is another negative by-product of smart phone use. We live in a world of inanimate screens which lack the emotional one on one relational experiences so important to the richness of life and living.
We give our kids these devices for what? Safety? In case of an emergency? Because we want them to call if they need us? I get it, but these devices can be a pipeline of filth. Clearly, this is not our intent, but the effects of harmful technology must be addressed and managed by intentional, loving parents. I am not saying get rid of smartphones, but we can’t close our eyes to the danger facing our young people at the press of a button. If we think this is not already an epidemic, we are naïve!
Now, look at our broader culture. Consider what Hollywood continues to pump out. It’s difficult to find a good uplifting movie today. Susan and I have had a “No R-Rated” movie rule for years. Finding an uplifting theatre experience on a Friday night is almost impossible. Quite frankly, most of it is just garbage. The images, the violence, the language, the lack of respect, the mocking, the sexual innuendo, etc… If you don’t recognize this you have become desensitized to the filth and therefore past feeling.
Finding the good, the clean, the powerful and the positive on film is becoming an endangered species. Occasionally you’ll find it in movies like, “The Greatest Showman” or “The Darkest Hour.” Goodness is out there, but I don’t see Hollywood as an ally. They are too tolerant of violence and have been undermining Godly values and basic morals at an increasing rate. In addition, consider the abject violence in most video games which is consumed by our youth and young adults at noisome. And we wonder why the fascination with violence.
And look how the pendulum continues to antagonistically swing with respect to religion. The women on ABC’s “The View” this past week took a shot at Vice President, Mike Pence’s Christian faith, mocking the former governor of Indiana for praying, calling it a “mental illness.” This was received by a chorus of applause. I could go on, but faithful, church going believers are often mocked and you never hear a national uproar. Read the article, “Mike Pence, Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy have all been ‘Christian Shamed.’ This ugly form of bigotry must stop” by Bruce Riley Ashford, 2/16/2018.
We pulled prayer from our schools over 50 years ago and we wonder why we have a problem. Prayer, no matter the religion, promotes a sense of accountability to a higher power and an implied consciousness of responsibility for our actions.
Nobody wants to call it what it is, but we are living amid a deepening culture of moral decay. And it doesn’t just impact our kids, it impacts all of us! As a nation, we lack moral leadership. From Bill Clinton’s, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” to probable allegations that Donald Trump slept with Stephanie Clifford, a porn star not long after he married Melania, are shocking evidences of our lack of moral leadership at the top. The plethora of similar headlines stream across our devices so frequently that we are becoming numb to it. We give a heavy sigh and roll of the eyes, but the deteriorating culture persists.
Many have become so desensitized that they have a difficult time distinguishing good from the evil. Those who recognize the difference are hesitant to call it out for fear of being labeled or publicly scorned. Look how long Hollywood tolerated Harvey Weinstein and his posse of sexual predators. I am so happy to see these individuals exposed, but this has been going on for decades, and for what? To protect one’s emerging career or potential upward advancement? I hope we have turned the corner on this and will call this behavior out whenever we see it.
Our political culture has gotten so bad even opposing sides can’t celebrate the obvious. At our recent State of the Union address, the President stated that Black and Hispanic unemployment is at a 40+ year low and half the chamber sat on their hands refusing to applaud. Hundreds of companies are now increasing wages and paying employee bonuses and yet their efforts are called, “crumbs” by the minority leader. The sides are so divided we have forgotten what is truly important. I thought having jobs and people working was good, especially among the disadvantaged, but evidentially not!
We must understand that our culture is in trouble! This problem is deepening and accelerating at a rapid pace. The first step of repentance is recognition. We can’t have a national change of heart unless we acknowledge and identify the problem. With this elephant in the room exposed, let’s resolve to rescue our coarsening, deteriorating and disconnected culture. We have been schooled with the familiar, “If you see something, say something.” How about we apply this same advice as a remedy to our collective national moral decay? Each one of us can make a difference.
Let’s elevate our expectations and get back to a more God-fearing America. Let’s hold ourselves to a higher moral standard and have the courage to expect it of others. Let’s strengthen the institution of the family at every turn with its helpful physical, financial, emotional and social guard rails. Let’s listen more to those with whom we disagree. Let’s reach out one on one and help those in need. Let’s speak more about self-reliance and personal responsibility. Let’s live each day with the attitude of gratitude. Let’s change our culture one day at a time.
Resolve to email, tweet, comment, share and post your feelings regarding this epidemic! We got into this problem because good people have largely sat on the sidelines. Let’s get anxiously engaged and make a difference one by one!
Prayers again to the families in Parkland!
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