Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fighting For Responsibility

We have a serious problem in this country, but its not what you think. Forget the economy, forget unemployment, or the environment, or education or healthcare. The problem we face is much deeper, and much more dangerous. It is not limited to one particular political idealogy, and no one people group suffers from it any more then any other. Rich, poor, young, old, black, white...it doesn't matter. No one talks about it, but if we are honest, we know the level to which this problem affects us.

Recently, one of the few doctors who performs late-term abortions was murdered in a church. This, for me, has been troubling on many levels. For one, the fact that the crime was committed in a house of God bothers me. It also bothers me that, as someone who is pro-life, I will now be lumped in with extremists who believe that ideology can be imposed at gun point. I am saddened for his family that they have lost a husband, father, and grandfather. However, what troubles me the most is what comes from within me; or should I say, what is lacking within me. If I am honest with myself, I have to say that I have no feelings of sympathy or outrage that the events took place. I would never begin to try to justify murder, nor do I believe that Dr. Tiller deserved to die. The question of who dies and when really is not up to me. However, in light of the 60'000 lives snuffed out in Dr. Tiller's clinic, its very hard for me to feel sympathy or outrage when I hear that the same has happened to him.

Now, I know there will be some who will read this who will be disgusted by this or call me a facist or be otherwise disappointed in me. I understand where you come from. I write my reaction to his death as means of owning my feelings, of taking responsibility for them. I feel it is necessary to do this so I may discuss the larger point in all of this, the problem our country is facing.

Whenever something newsworthy happens related to abortion, it sparks a debate about the legality and morality of the abortion issue. It is no different today. Despite attempts by the media and by politicians to assert that abortion is a settled issue in this country, there is still passionate opposition to its practice. Pro-lifers tend to assert the morality argument that equates abortion to murder, while pro-choicers waive the Constitution and claim protection from goverment intervention into our private lives. The debate centers around what we do and do not have the right to do with our bodies. However, I believe the issue goes even deeper then that.

The choice to have an abortion, except in cases of rape or molestation (which, by the way, account for less then 1% of all abortions performed), really comes down to a simple choice. It is the answer to the question: "Do I want to take responsibilty for the poor choice I made?" Those mothers that choose to have the child, either to raise it or put it up for adoption are saying yes, I will own my choices. Those who go ahead with the procedure are not. It is really as simple as that. Abortion exists because of the larger problem in our country: a lack of personal accountability.

It goes beyond abortion. We have a failing educational system, not because we don't have enough money, but because we have teachers' unions that do not allow for a system based on merit to decide who leads a classroom and who does not. We have people on welfare who choose not work because Uncle Sam pays better then the entry level job at McDonalds. We use billions of tax payer dollars to bail out auto makers for lacking the forethought to know that you can't overpay your employees to build cars often viewed as inferior to their foreign competitors. We overtax the most productive members of society so we can "spread the wealth around," as our President would say, to those who do not achieve. All the while, we are teaching our children the lesson that, if they make a mistake, they won't have to worry about the consequences and that any trouble they may face is surely the fault of someone else.

Nietzsche once said, "Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves." Rather then battling over what rights we have, we need to change the conversation to include discussion of our responsibilities. We need to raise the level of citizenship in this country so that once again, it means something to be an American. Previous generations have had to fight and die to protect the way of life we take for granted. We owe it to them to debate not only what we can do as Americans, but also what we should do.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

There is hope...

Take two fingers. Press them to your neck. If you feel a beat, there's hope.

We are living in troubled times. It seems like every time we turn on the news, all we see is negative. People losing their jobs, retirements going down the tubes, supposedly credible Wall Street advisers being revealed as nothing more then petty thieves. Our entire economic systems appears on the verge of collapsing around us and fundamentally altering our nation's way of life forever.

Take two fingers. Press them to your neck. If you feel a beat, there's hope.

The worst part of it, however, is not the rising unemployment, the declining stock market, or the loss of trust in those former financial "gurus." It's that no one seems to have any idea what to do about it. It is the confusion that's driving us insane. For more then two decades, we were told buying houses and investing in the stock market were surefire ways of achieving financial security. We were told that a college degree was the answer to getting and keeping a job, that if we found a good company to work for and we were successful, we could write our own ticket. If you still believe that, log on to the job boards these days. You'll have to sift between the "work from home" (translation: scam) and the "I need 39 people for sales and management positions" (translation: selling Kirby vacuums door-to-door), and its pretty slim pickings.

Take two fingers. Press them to your neck. If you feel a beat, there's hope.

Not since the Great Depression has this nation faced a crisis of this proportion. While no one seems to know what do, our leaders have decided that doing something is better then nothing, even if that something could drive us further into the hole we have created for ourselves. We have congressmen and senators voting for bills they don't even read and advocating positions with consequences they don't even consider. We have a President desperatly trying to sell us a plan, not because he's sure it will work, but because he needs us to believe it for it to work. And at the end of the day, it will leave the generation that follows us footing the bill.

And yet I am reminded of one simple fact: that there is a God in heaven, and He is still on His throne. The stimulus package could be one trillion or it could be 100 trillion. It really doesn't matter, because when God wants to bless, He blesses. When He wants to take away, He takes away. All throughout the Bible, there are instances of God blessing man, man turning from God, God getting angry, and God getting man's attention. God desires us to be in relationship with Him, and when we turn our backs, its hurts Him and angers Him. He created us in love, and when we forsake Him, it cuts Him to his core. And so, from time to time, God does a little housecleaning, rooting out those elements that are offensive to Him. He wants us to trust Him, and sometimes He finds it necessary, for our benefit, to remove options so that our only choice IS to trust Him and alone.

In light of this, I am always amazed at how quick God is to forgive and restore. In 2 Choronicles 7:14, God says, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Just that quick, when we turn from our sin, He intervenes and restores us. Now, I am not going to dive in to what He means by "their wicked ways." I'll leave that to God to convict us of. What I will say is that, for too long, we haven't been caring about the things God cares about. Rather then worrying if God is on our side, let's strive to be on His side. Rather then seeking His hand, let's seek His face. Rather then telling everyone within shouting distance what we are against, let's start sharing what we are for.

What these times have taught me is that I am utterly incapable of succeeding on my own strength, my natural born talent, my own understanding of how to live life. I have learned that there is a wisdom that is greater then anything I could ever imagine, that wrote the Book on life before life was ever formed. And so, when I get down, discouraged, disturbed or distraught, my God gives me a simple message: that as long as there is still breath in my lungs and a pounding in my heart, as long as I can take two my fingers, press them to my neck, and feel something beating, there will always, always be hope.