What’s Wrong, and What to Do About It

Posted on April 13, 2018

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By now every pundit, politician, columnist, pastor, minister, Rabbi, editorial page writer and anybody else who can entertain a thought has thought about what is happening in our schools, and what to do about it.

The solutions go from more gun control to putting a platoon of U. S. Marines in every school in America. Ok, maybe not Marines, but bulk up security, make going into schools as secure as going into an airport and the one all politicians like, vote more funds for something, anything to act like you know what you are about.

Let me gently suggest that while more funds for (pick your favorite way to defend the schools), more gun control, and more oversight and investigation of strange and forlorn individuals who broadcast their crazed plans to shoot and kill as many as possible on social media are all probably necessary responses, they are not the ultimate cause of these tragedies.

The cause is the disintegration of the family and the rise of digital media, both of which have disrupted, damaged, mangled, and in some fashions simply destroyed the family where values and nurturing teaches our children to be responsible adults, with clear boundaries between good and bad.

That’s a long sentence, probably an ugly one. Let’s see if we can be more accurate, but shorter and more succinct. The problem is culture.

Culture is a small word with a big meaning. Merriam Webster gives us more than we need, but this is a big problem, the problem of our age. I edited it a bit. For your moderns that’s the old-fashioned term for what you like to think “redacted” means.

The definition of culture that best fits for our purposes is: “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.”

There are a few elements in our modern culture that I think are just plain wrong and contribute not only to the destruction of our way of life, but also, very specifically, to the destruction of our children in schools.

Let’s briefly examine the concepts of privilege and entitlements.

No one is by nature privileged or entitled to anything in our world, or the world envisioned and fashioned by our Founding Fathers.

Now, either look up two words or phrases, or simply ponder on them. One of them is work and the other is going to less familiar, noblesse oblige.

Work is pretty simple. We must work for what we earn. The Apostle Paul summed it nicely in his letter to the Christian community at Thessalonica: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” You can grab a little book, Work and Wealth in Scripture, if you want to read more on what the Bible has to say about work.

Noblese oblige, roughly translates as “nobility obligates,” which has a general meaning well reflected in another Biblical phrase, “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48 Put another way, it generally means that with wealth, power, and prestige come responsibilities.

There you have it. There is more, volumes more, on what’s wrong with our culture, and what to do about it, and we’ll touch on more in future columns. And there is more, obviously, on work, and the responsibilities that come with those who have been given or earned much.

The Founding Fathers knew these principles were based on two rock-bed foundations: natural law, and Christian Scripture. They always reinforced each other, mirrored each other, and supported each other, no matter how many ways you looked at them.

Those who expect something—entitlements for example—for nothing should expect exactly what they put into the endeavor. See above, 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
And those who have been given more are expected to give more back to their culture.

In our country, the latest data shows that roughly 75 percent of the financial wealth is held in the hands of the top 10 percent of households. Read Luke 12:48 again. Whether you have been privileged by birth or other factors, you are expected to return much to your culture.

People such as Andrew Carnegie and John Fitzgerald Kennedy understood and practiced this well in their lives. One came to wealth and the second was born to privilege and power. Both gave back to their culture and their country.

The answer to making our culture—today obsessed with self and dissocialized by the digital world–lies in Scripture in principles expressed in such books as Thessalonians and Luke. And principles are turned into actions in family and church.

Published as “Decaying culture is source of problems” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018