“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
(If you want to make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change”
– Michael Jackson
At the end of the day, no law, restriction, bumper sticker, protest or any other human activity can fix what ails us. For that which ails us is inside: Our individual and collective hearts are sick.
We have taken what were a collective set of values – based mostly but not entirely on Judeo-Christian concepts such as the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule – and replaced them with a whole lot of nothing. And then we scramble and try to legislate what was once normal behavior, and that which we spent decades deriding as old-fashioned.
Take the “Me Too” movement – please. Since the 1960s, Americans – especially American youth – have embraced an ethos of “free love”. Forget marriage, you can and should have sex when, where and with whomever you like. Add to this abortion on demand and no-fault divorce so that “mistakes” can be eliminated rather than worked through and lived with, and you have generations of men (and women) who think it’s their birthright to not just procreate but to do so at will.
And yet here we are: A movement that is decrying men for being, well, men. Uncontrolled men; men unbound by any sense of chivalry, of decency, or of responsibility. We forget the institution of marriage, among its many benefits, served to channel the sexual desires of men to positive purpose while at the same time drawing lines that could not be crossed without great financial and societal risk. Men unbound by mores act like, well, pigs. And now we belatedly try to impose puritanical standards on them.
This will fail not because it’s wrong, but because there is no moral authority. The same people screaming “Me Too” are those that scream “My Body, My Choice”; these are the folks that pined for the removal of God and marriage and every other standard that once underpinned society. Anything they offer will be capricious, random and utterly confusing because it answers to no higher power than man. And that is not enough.
The same dynamic is seen in the rash of school shootings. Again, we strove to remove – and succeeded in removing – that which we once claimed created good citizens. We also razed the idea of excellence and elevated the status of “victim”, to the point that victimhood is the highest form of status today. And we destroyed the family so that many adolescents – at best – receive guidance from only one parent and in the case of boys, sadly, the wrong one.
But humans don’t change, and young humans will do as they have since the days of Cain and Abel. They act out, they get angry, they bully, they fight. Not that long ago, disagreements were solved by – at worst – a fistfight in the school yard. Now they are solved by gunfire. But what can we expect when we (1) tell kids there is no objective truth, (2) there is no higher power in life, (3) they are all special and (4) acting like a victim is the fastest way to earn praise in life?
It’s far too late to return to the ways that, while not perfect, resulted in a relatively peaceful and pleasant society. We have destroyed too much and erected the idol of government in its place. Rules, restrictions and social engineering will continue to be applied, and they will continue to fail.
What ails us is not inanimate objects. Nor is it scapegoated organization. It’s not even politicians, although some of them are accessories.
It’s us. And any solution can only start with us.