Saturday, March 3, 2012

Am I That Frog?

Do you know what's scary? How aware I am to the demoralization of our country yet how dumbed down I feel about it. It's like being in a walk in freezer for a significant amount of time. Your head knows it's cold, and your body definitely feels the cold. You felt the shock initially when you entered the freezer and felt the bitter temperature of this cooler, but you're starting to get used to it, partly because you're losing all sense of feeling. Over just a short amount of time, your current reality becomes your normality! The frightening thing is not realizing how dangerously close you are to freezing to death - if you don't "come to" and get out of the freezer soon.

How many times have we heard the story of The Frog in the boiling water. If you put a frog in hot water, he'll jump out. But if you put the frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, he won't notice. And he'll eventually be cooked. This story is often used as an example of us as individuals in a culture where moral guidelines and virtuous boundaries are slowly losing their importance to us because we have become so normalized to the "wrong" that is happening around us.

Both of these visuals are meant to highlight what I identify my own self wrestling with and what I observe my country dealing with en mass - and lethal - proportions.

The stories don't stop. Families are falling a part. Kids, including the most recent in Detroit and Ohio, are shooting and killing one another, even their own parent. Evidently it's the "best" way they know how to deal with conflict. Other people are suffering from eating disorders because they have had a poor example of beauty presented to them. The use of drugs is taking lives. Alcohol abuse caused a young man to drive into a tree and die way too soon. Girls are getting pregnant out of wedlock in massive numbers. They just want to be loved and accepted and to have someone to love. Children experiencing the painful breakup of parents' marriages, including perhaps the departure of the live-in boyfriend-turned dad. Parents in prison and perhaps dealing with an unjust Justice system. College students not recognizing their purpose in life are twiddling away their brilliant minds, and time on too much of the meaningless things. The addictions that are started as innocent experiments torment individuals' lives. Like I said, the stories of our hurting communities, country and world don't stop.

There is no one person I'm thinking of as I write this piece. And there is no condemnation to those reading this who identify with the struggles mentioned. However, there is compassion for what people are dealing with. And angst for what our demoralization in this country has caused us individually and collectively. The sad thing is, do we - do I - fully realize how far we've gone? How hot the water is? And how close we are to "freezing" to death?

I work in the political arena, am delighted with listening to talk shows and getting their assessments of what is happening in the government culture, world affairs, getting to know candidates and hearing what they want to do if elected to office. But I am beyond exhausted of hearing the majority's solution to our quest for success again as a country: the way we "get back on track - is the economy, jobs, economy, jobs, jobs, economy and more jobs. There is this unspoken assumption that if we just fix the economy we will make our world right again. 

When are we - brilliant, smart, intelligent Americans - going to wake up? Economy and social values go hand in hand.

Shocker of the century, fellow Americans but there is still absolute truth. There always has been, there always will be. Absolute truth means it does not change, no matter what the circumstances, scenario, individual or timing.

God loves people. Since the very beginning, He has given us tips, rules, guidelines that are for our best. His ideal is not to poo-poo our fun!! But it's to define boundaries and checks and balances that, if followed, will make us successful, thriving and happy residents of this world! But when we ignore them time after time after time - as individuals, cultures, nations - we lose sight of what's right and wrong in His eyes. We lose the calibration. And all "hell breaks lose". We become floundering kids trying to make our way on our own. Because of this, the economy suffers, the culture suffers, our health and well being as individuals suffer, our relationships suffer, the families, education systems, government affairs all suffer. How do we not see this, heed it and act upon it? 

If you have individuals living virtuous lives within God's guidelines, you have healthier families, who contribute to healthier work forces. You have healthier children in schools if they are raised with consequences, balance and family structure.  Healthy individuals give us healthy economies. Healthy economies might improve the outward needs for a time. But not for long sustainability. It will quickly fade unless we address the right things first.

Our problem as a culture is that we've been the frog in the water. Things have been slipping for eons. Wrong things have turned into the right and new expected norms. The good and true is now scoffed at and shunned. And we - specifically as Americans (for this conversation) find ourselves floundering, so far off track we are not sure how to get back.  We are already experiencing the soul-less culture of self-gratification and human-problem solving. And I just wonder how close we are to losing our lives.

These things are connected. Oh, they are so connected. When the absolute standards of morality and virtue are removed from our society, when a mis-understood definition of God continues to duplicate among generations, peers and societal cultures, and when we have no calibration with our own conscience or good and evil, our society falters and everything else suffers.

And that's what is happening now. I don't know about you, but I want to grieve. I know where the hope lies - it's in the ever hopeful and faithful Father who is in the process of redeeming and restoring and showing us how to turn the boiling water down. It's when it doesn't bother me at all that scares me.

I wasn't born yesterday. I know the economy is important. But we've become fixated on one thing for so long. We cannot fix the house of a nation until we address what the real problem is. We cannot save the frog until we turn down the boiling water. And we cannot rescue the near frostbitten friend until they are removed from the freezer and "re-calibrated" to what the God-designed norm was meant to be. For this friend, it's a healthy body temperature. For us, it's returning to what God defines as good and right and true and abandoning those pieces of our life that are wrong, dirty and corrupt. Until we address this, the health of our society and nation is not going to return.

There is hope my friend to saving America, improving our communities and changing the world. But the question remains that demands an answer: will we recognize these dangers and do something about it? Or.. will we simply turn the boiling water even hotter.