We Tackle Natural Disasters — Why Not the Unnatural Disaster Wrecking Our Communities?
Here they come again! Spring and summer storms are making their annual appearance. Now it’s turbulent thunderstorms and tornados to be followed soon by hurricane season. We understand this very well in Texas and also with family in Oklahoma. Betty and I pray a lot for people and areas to be spared danger and death. In one of His greatest parables, Jesus directed us all to build our house on a solid rock because the storms are sure to come, and indeed they do.
Here in our own immediate area precious lives were lost near Eastland and Van, Texas, both small, rural communities. Flood waters added to the devastation and required miraculous rescues. It was so sad to see families lose their homes, belongings and sometimes friends and family members. However, the crisis reveals the greatness of love, concern and sacrificial help of first responders. The rapid response here in Texas was so effective that the media discouraged others from coming to the devastated areas. The additional would-be volunteers were encouraged to simply stay home and pray.
So we thank our first responders. However, having experts take care of our natural disaster problems while the volunteers sit safely at home isn’t ideal. I’d hate to see America’s volunteer spirit atrophy. Sometimes, of course, we must rely almost completely on experts to safely deal with downed power lines and the like; that’s understandable. But it’s far from understandable, and far from acceptable, when the disaster is a cultural one — broken communities and families, out-of-control government spending, a front assault on the institution of marriage.
What’s strange is that after a natural disaster, many of us are ready and eager to join in and help, but with this unnatural disaster, many concerned Americans are just sitting around watching it happen, hoping “the experts” will fix it. That makes no sense. At least with a natural disaster, we can be pretty sure that America’s public servants tasked with coming to the rescue will offer speedy help that really helps – clearing roads, rescuing stranded flood victims, restoring down power lines. But with the unnatural disaster unfolding around us, public servants all too often are making matters worse.
How so? On the marriage issue, it’s obvious. Politicians and judges are attempting to redefine a bedrock cultural institution established by God and older than any government. But our public servants are making matters worse in other ways as well. For instance, often an already difficult circumstance is made far worse in the name of help and falsely promised hope. I am referring to political leaders and elected representatives who cause misery to individuals, families, businesses, communities and freedom itself through their “Great Society” policies and agencies. They use legitimate problems to lead people into dependence and bondage. They promise to do what only God can do and what only caring, loving neighbors can accomplish. But here is the awful reality: indifferent and deceived people allow it to happen, and they don’t come out to change and correct the damage. Instead, they just stumble along in prevailing darkness and deceit.
The unnatural man-created storms I allude to are undeniable: uncontrolled, unbalanced budgets; excessive spending for unsustainable programs that have undermined fathers, families and communities over the past half a century; exorbitant, misdirected taxation that saps wealth-creating enterprise and that teaches citizens to depend on someone or something else rather than God and their God-given creative capacity, with more and more refusing to work and become productive contributors.
Yes, some are desperate and helpless, but assistance to these needy ones ultimately must be provided by neighbors close by who can discern their real needs and offer face-to-face compassion. A bureaucratic agency managed from afar is poorly suited for such work.
There are right ways for the government and citizens to work together, as we witness after major natural disasters. The same thing must happen now as “we the people” come out in force to stop this very stoppable, unnatural damage to our cities, and particularly those communities struggling against poverty and pervasive family breakdown. The federal government has no business trying to monitor or manage people’s private lives, businesses or practices, unless someone is deliberately breaking laws necessary for civil peace and justice. Maintain that more modest mission and the government will have far more time to focus on its core role of catching and punishing serious criminals, promoting justice and tranquility, and doing it all on a budget that won’t drive our nation into eventual bankruptcy.
It’s true that private citizens too often live irresponsible, out-of-control lives that force the law to step in to protect others and serve justice. But even here the handcuffs and the prison bars get us only so far. The Christian witness is what will move men and communities from a caged, cajoled brokenness to real flourishing. We must see transformed hearts, minds and lives. My prayer and challenge is for concerned Americans to come together to stop the unnatural disaster of foolish, mismanaged, over-reaching government actions. Let’s get the responsibility back in the hands of the family members, churches and private organizations in the communities — freeing us to function as those who love God and our neighbors.