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How It Happens

I remember speaking with a friend of mine who had taken a medicine that was being advertised on television as the next target for tort lawyers to gather the “victims” for a lawsuit that would get each person a few bucks and the lawyers a pile of money.  I asked him if he was adding his name to the list.  He told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t believe in that kind of thing.  He wasn’t going to tap into a fund when no real harm had been done to him, and he had done nothing to merit getting paid for his trouble.  I admired his stand.  That’s not to take anything from people who have justified claims for carelessness or otherwise wrongful actions that caused real harm to people.  I had to contrast his attitude with another acquaintance who was faced with a similar situation, and was listing all kinds of symptoms that might be “proof” of her suffering so she could siphon off some of the money intended for folks who really had been hurt.

These two people are the antithesis of each other’s attitudes.  Don’t think for one minute that their prevailing attitudes had no other ramifications in their daily lives!  The selfishness of one person was revealed in many other ways, and the honor of the other was manifest to the same degree.  Our country during the past century or so has divided along similar paths.  The sacrificial spirit of pioneers and rural people who survived the depression years, the people who during the fifties were labeled “hard-up” but were good people.  A host of good, hard-working people in our nation lived and died by principles of responsibility for themselves and their families.  They didn’t want hand-outs.  They had pride in their work, and if they shook hands on a deal, that was enough.  Most had roots in Christianity, and said grace before they ate even a simple meal.  They went to church and had respect for others.  They were honest.  They took no sass from their children.  They took care of their elderly.  Neighbors pitched in when help was needed.  The virtues of those people were pretty much universal at one time in America but the decades of prosperity moved families one by one away from the values that supported such an outlook on family and society.   Being depriced doesn’t change us for the worse nearly as much as having too much.  When the government stepped in with handouts, some took the help reluctantly, and as soon as they could, they went back to the values they were raised with.  The problem began with those who took the bounty and positioned themselves for more of the same.

We now have a society who lives on entitlements in large measure.  Communities budget based on the government funds they will get.  A host of people have learned to milk the system for all they can get, and in many cases, sold their food stamps for casino money.  They go to the ER so they don’t have to wait a half hour in a doctor’s office with their sick child.  They show up at every place they know of for assistance in clothing their family.  They feel no shame in being taken care of by society.  They often believe they are entitled to the free ride.  What kind of citizens do such people become in the grand scheme of things?

They don’t vote.  If they did, they would vote for whoever promised them more goodies.  They don’t care who is in office, as long as the gravy train is still on track.  They are not outraged by injustice but they will protest if their food stamps are cut back, and complain that they can’t use them to buy beer.  They are often the parents who get angry when authority deals with their children.  The dysfunction created or perpetuated by entitlement spreads like a virus.  The next generation is more deeply entrenched.  Fewer and fewer are working to pay for an ever increasing number of people who don’t work.  This is not an indictment against truly deserving folks who need help, or even seniors who have contributed all their life.  It’s about a society that has grown accustomed to people who ride free, who look to the government to cure all ills, who accept the nibbles at liberty as the government grows and its appetite increases proportionately.  We have become accustomed to government rules that don’t make sense, government spending that is ridiculous, government interference that is aggravating, government policies that don’t make sense, corruption in government that we assume is just part of politics as usual.  This acid has eaten away at us as a nation until our forefathers would gaze at us and shake their heads, tears on their cheeks.  They would look at each other and nod, because it is just what they feared and tried to guard against.

I suspect that God views us the same way but He also sees the rebellion of young people who believe in nothing, women who demand rights to their bodies and kill their babies, and an education system that worries more about government subsidies and teachers’ rights that the young minds turning pages of texts books that lie to them while they sneak in a text message on the sly.  He sees the churches full of people who don’t really know Him, and are relieved when service is over and tee time approaches at the golf course.  He can scout half the town before He finds a family laughing around a Sunday dinner table before they play scrabble quietly in the afternoon.  Some of them wrote a big check when the plate was passed, but it wasn’t any sacrifice, and they have no clue how it is spent.  If you mentioned Christian martyrs in China or Indonesia, or the Sudan, they would frown and look away from such radical talk.  The kids all know the latest musician with a hit song, the latest half-dressed young woman belting out the chorus, but they don’t know the father of our country.  If you mentioned supreme court judges, they would think it was a tennis tournament for a big trophy.  A grocery list consists of soda pop by the case, chips, Oreos, and pizza rolls in a box.  These things are not evil in themselves, but our loss of the things they supersede is wrong.  The little foxes spoil the vine, and the little beasts have chewed their way to the roots of all that once was held dear in this country.  Those who hold with the truth, the values that made us great, our faith in Jesus Christ, our devotion to what is honorable, and our sorrow at what is lost is all cause for them to smile at us with a funny kind of pity.  They tolerate us because ants are a nuisance at a picnic, but everyone knows they hang out in such places.  All that is good in America is not gone; it’s just fading into a pair of old jeans we don’t wear anymore.  We keep them in case we need paint clothes some day.

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