Monday, December 17, 2012

The Space Between

More gun control! Better legislation regarding the mentally disturbed! We raise our voices to say something that will help us somehow endure the painful insanity of 20 dead children in Connecticut. 

 We frantically search our mind for anything that will move us back from this horrible aberration and return us to the peacefulness of normal. And, no doubt, in the intensity of our present emotions, we will find new mechanics to make our society more and better controlled.

And it seems we must do this for the sake of our own sanity. Because we know, deep down, that what happened at Sandy Hook and in many other such instances is, on some level, endemic to the species. 

 And, while most of us, on a normal day, would rather die, ourselves, than harm a child, we also know very well that, as a group, we are not absolutely impervious to lapses in the certainty of normal. So, we are tormented by the possibility of those abnormal days.

Maybe, our slip will stem from mental illness, as in Sandy Hook. Maybe it will come through a moment of road rage. Maybe aberration will find us in a moment deluged by alcohol. Or, maybe we will lose ourselves because of the fierce emotions of a broken heart, or some grinding abuse, or some deep disappointment.

There are a thousand directions from which our variance can come. And that awareness frightens us as a species. And so we look for better ways to contain ourselves and make our behavior more certain.

Many do look to laws and legislation. But, while those things are helpful and necessary, they are not really the headwaters of the solution – especially in a society as free as ours. 

 With this higher level of personal freedom, also comes the opportunity for higher levels of personal and social misconduct. And, in fact, the progressing reality in America is that the society has very intentionally moved away from the mechanisms which help us hold at bay the dark side of liberty.

For example, we have more recently embraced a parental attitude which says it’s OK to dispense with implanting a respect for the values and authority of a holy God in the heart of our children? But, is it really OK to send a child into adulthood and into society without their own well vetted moral compass?

What, then, will guide them when they are deciding whether or not to drink and drive, or use drugs, or resort to violence? Will we, as parents, always be there when they are deciding whether or not to risk their future to premarital sex? 

 Is it really reasonable to believe that we will always be there to guide them every time they are faced with reckless, or dangerous, or immoral choices? We, absolutely will not.

But, God can be there. He can accompany them through every moment of every day in their mind, their value system, and their conscience. And yet, as a society, we are quickly trending away from His influence on the hearts and minds of our children – and on our own, for that matter.

As a further example of this vector, we have largely surrendered our children to base and violent movies and video games while neglecting their exposure to the Church and the Bible? And we seem also to have surrendered to the idea that public schools and peer groups are an adequate replacement for loving and available parents wielding a resolute “veto power” and well proven values to pass along?

If, in the wrenching emotions of such national tragedies as Sandy Hook, we are desperately looking for redemption and answers, we would be well served to simply return to the old ones. The best way to hold the line against social aberrations and the excesses of freedom is to begin with the inner person. Our best hope is to reinvest ourselves in the cultivation of a government within the heart of the citizen.

The larger reality is this.  A society that is not first governed in the heart of its citizens is not truly governed at all. 

This is true because, in the space between the gaze of a police officer, and the reach of law, and the decrees of political governments, people will always do what they want to do. And that space where there are no external controls always exists.

So, the real hope of any society is that the heart of its people will simply incline to good and right things. Then, we are truly governed – even in the space where no one sees.