What Do We Value?

Last weekend, a replica of an historic covered bridge was destroyed by an arsonist. I live in Madison County Iowa, the home of several historic covered bridges and they’re kind of a big deal here. This bridge was actually a replica of one that had been destroyed by arson about a decade or so ago. Our law enforcement community has made two arrests and I’m sure they are continuing their investigation.

While I am deeply saddened by the Cedar Bridge burning, this has made me even more painfully aware of how much our society values things over people. Everyday I work with victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, domestic violence. The perpetrators of these crimes seldom see much for jail time. Slaps on the wrist are quite common. Meanwhile their victims are stripped of their innocence, their dignity, their sense of worth and sometimes their long-term well being.

I often wonder how a society that values things over people can possibly endure. When a person who cheats on taxes receives more prison time than a person who rapes his child isn’t there something wrong? When a person who burns a bridge receives more jail time than someone who perpetrates domestic violence for years on his partner and his children does, it cements the notion that children are not valued, women are not valued. Things are valued.

When I hear that it will cost a million dollars to rebuild a replicated bridge, I wonder how far that million dollars would go in this county to provide desperately needed mental health services.

I do think people need to be held accountable for what they do. Please don’t hear otherwise. I’m proud of the law enforcement community for their quick and thorough response to this crime. They’re pretty amazing! (I may be a little biased.)

I am very conflicted though. I have read through many many posts and comments seeing rage and hate and desire to see just punishment. A seventeen year old and a twenty five year sentence. Tomorrow I’ll be face to face I’m sure with any number of perpetrators from whom I need to protect a precious child and there will be no outcry and no sentencing and my heart will continue to question our priorities.

Petty Buffoons, Another Rant

This is another rant specifically directed to my Christian Brothers and Sisters. The rest of ya’ll are welcome to read. ūüėČ

I am not a Democrat.

Actually, I’m not a Republican either.

I am, however, getting disgusted. And now, I begin my rant.

Yesterday I was reading posts on Facebook and ran across this¬†picture posted of President Obama carrying a book called The Post American World. The conversation in the comments started to get a bit heated, jabbing President Obama for reading this kind of a book. I was surprised at how quickly those commenting assumed that this book was a book to teach Obama how to make America decline and that he was reading it to get ideas. I hadn’t heard of the book, so I went to Amazon and here’s what they say about that book:”This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of¬† everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the “rise of the rest”‚ÄĒthe growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others‚ÄĒas the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.”

I hope he’s reading this book to get ideas. He needs to. He’s the leader of a wonderful country that is in trouble! Thankfully, my friend removed the photo and her comments. She was quick to realize that maybe she had assumed something she shouldn’t have. That was cool.

What isn’t cool is that there are so many Christians (me included) who jump to conclusions, base our opinions¬†on half truths¬†and become completely disrespectful when we disagree with someone’s ideology. Which brings me to the point of my rant: How can we show the world Jesus when we act like a bunch of bickering, petty, uniformed¬†buffoons?

There is a great chasm between how we are to be acting as Christians and how we are acting. If someone doesn’t align themselves with our right-wing, conservative political agenda, we crucify them. While we don’t hang them on a cross and beat them up, we name call, make fun of, and show anything but respect to them. We¬†pick¬† apart what they wear, what they eat, how they look, and now, what they read.

Little, petty things that make no difference at all.

And then we make huge political statements without even being informed. We are able to shout out quotes and quips of what we hear from our Conservative Christian circles, but we really have no substance to what we are quoting and quipping because we are really just uninformed. We rely on a few ‘leaders’ to spoon feed us rhetoric and we don’t know what any of it means.¬†We rely on right wing conservative media and information, forgetting that their biases and agendas are¬†just as strong as any liberal agendas or biases – and they’re not always right.¬†¬†And then we spew. And those with whom we disagree become targets of mudslinging, slander and malice.

And the world doesn’t see Jesus. Again.

We live in a wonderful country that gives us the liberty to be able to disagree with our leaders and with each other without fear of federal wrath. I love that I can speak¬† my mind even when speaking my mind may be completely against the agenda of those in leadership. I am not suggesting for one minute that because we’re Christians we shouldn’t exercise that right. What I am suggesting is:

  • Be informed. We need to make sure that what¬†we are reporting is accurate. We need to check many sources – even sources that are not :::gasp::: filled with right wing conservative agenda.¬†We may be surprised what¬†we think is true may not be.
  • Pray for those in leadership of our country. God says.
  • Pray again.
  • We need to remember that it is entirely possible to disagree with people without shredding them to pieces. If we really are informed, we will be able to explain our reasons for disagreeing or our stance on certain issues well. If we aren’t informed – really informed, and if we haven’t checked our facts, we really should just keep our mouths shut.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. From the Bible in Psalm 19:14

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