Dr. Gene Veith, my old professor at CUW, has hit the nail on the head that London’s riots are just the latest example of a western society that has gone bonkers in its disrespect for authority. Witness the ongoing debacle playing out in the Badger state as another good example.
I recall last October, as we were readying ourselves for November’s elections, that I wrote in my former blog for Zion, Clyman that we were misdiagnosing our societal disease. This misdiagnosis keeps popping up with every election cycle. The misdiagnosis is this: We think we need the perfect leader (the Messiah). Some leaders (The 2008 Barack Obama comes to mind) actually encourage this political messianism. One problem remains, however.
Whatever happened to citizenship?
It’s probably no coincidence that, as entitlements grew in the U.S., honorable citizenship died. Citizenship used to be defined by one’s active participation in the political process, servitude to fellow citizens, and honor and support of their elected leaders despite political differences. In other words, being a good citizen was not just about casting a vote, which is pretty much the only way it is viewed today. Why do we admire “the greatest generation?” They were able to do what we today seemingly cannot. How did they do it? They were good citizens, supportive of their country and one another in difficult times.
Now that every one’s a “consumer,” they are no longer “citizens” but “dependents.” It’s hard for Americans to process that the very entitlements they are depending on, either now or in the future, are the cause of their greatest worries for our nation. They understand the whole “debt clock”-reality, but cannot imagine any other way out of this malaise.
Americans then project their inability to solve this conundrum by placing it on their leaders, who are equally as unlikely to have a real solution (or at least a painless solution). We desperately beg them to lead, but when they do we reserve the right to scream about their leadership. All this points out one simple truth to the point of absolute pain: We have no idea what good citizenship is anymore and no appreciation of our own role in righting the ship.
In other words, America’s greatest crisis is not a crisis of leadership. It is a crisis of citizenship. Today’s leaders don’t know how to lead because the people they lead won’t respect them anyway.
So, despite my obvious political differences with a man like Pres. Obama, I still have a measure of sympathy for him. His is not an easy position to be in. It never was. But this may be the worst of all periods in American history to hold his position as well. Why? Because it’s hard to lead a nation whose people will not be good citizens. It seems they don’t even know how.
Perhaps we can begin to right the ship again by heeding the words of Paul. 1 Tim. 2 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Ti 2:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Following Paul’s encouragement would be far a better solution than screaming at our leaders and one another in ungodly and undignified ways. Don’t you think?
Sincerely in Christ,