I saw a post on Facebook recently with a speech attributed to Ben Stein. I don’t know for sure that he actually said it all – the end had all the markings of a chain email. But I did appreciate the point being made. I struggle with the way religion, and specifically Christianity, is being pushed out. There has been a continuous progression in my lifetime to “separate church and state”, but somewhere along the way this has been translated to “remove all signs of Christianity from our society.” I understood the intention of the separation of church and state to be prohibiting us from mandating one state religion; that it cannot be proclaimed that all Americans must be Christians. And thank goodness for that! When we mandate what people must believe we become something so drastically different, something I don’t want to be a part of. But I don’t believe it is intended to mean that people may not express their own faith in public. That we must cleanse our society of all signs of Christianity. Is that not mandating atheism? How different is it to force one religion or banish religious practice?
Being “politically correct” which is code for appeasing the most sensitive individuals ensuring no one is ever made to feel slightly uncomfortable has become the norm. We as a society have stepped aside and let a small minority dictate what is offensive, what could be misinterpreted. We have watched as things like the Father Son Cake Bake become the Manly Cake Bake to insure that no child feels uncomfortable that they don’t have a father or their father is not a part of their life. The intent may be good, I certainly don’t want a child feeling ostracized because of the choices his parents made. But is this not diminishing the role of fathers in a boy’s life? Does it not minimize the importance of having a father if we are always careful to note that not everyone has one? When we work so hard to make those without a father feel “normal” and minimize the deficit this causes in their life, are we not minimizing the importance of all fathers?
Likewise, when we remove the standard by which we judge right and wrong, our moral compass, should we not be prepared for a new sense of right and wrong? I grew up with the Ten Commandments as that compass. That along with the whole of the Bible is what I base my morality upon. If those tenants become unacceptable in our society what replaces them. Look at the laws of our country and how closely they mirror the Ten Commandments. No killing, no stealing, and no lying are the first that come to mind. If not for the religious basis, then why do we have these rules? Why not just say anything goes? Why not let each person judge what is a fair way to be treated?
I fear that as a society we have lost our moral compass. Or possibly we have changed our true north – that by which we set our compass. I would argue our culture’s true north has been moved to our own centers. It has become about what will make me feel good, not cause me stress or angst. The goal has become to not make anyone uncomfortable, to make everything OK. In our haste to not offend, we lose sight of the fact that there truly is right and wrong. There are things that are not negotiable. And sometimes life is hard and unfair. There will be times when we screw up and we have to answer for our actions, we cannot make the pain go away by changing the rules. We make the pain go away by pushing through it, by learning from our mistakes, repenting for our wrongs, asking forgiveness of those we have hurt and doing better. When we work so hard to protect others from discomfort, we also shelter them from the opportunity to grow and learn and do better.
Where does our future lie as a people? At what point will we begin to take personal responsibility for our actions? When will we realize that in trying to make everything OK, nothing matters? When we let go of what matters only chaos remains.