Religion: is it wrong to be right?

Weir Thinking About It

Remember when you were a child and were always asking your parents for things? You wanted more toys, more ice cream, and more rides on the Merry—go—round. If it weren't for your parents you'd have buried yourself in dolls, Batman figures, trains, planes, automobiles, and every other childish bauble and trinket. If not for parental concern you'd have stuffed yourself with Haagen—Daz butter pecan, Dairy Queen shakes, and Carvel chocolate swirl until you qualified for a Sumo wrestling career prior to adolescence. And, you would have stayed on that rotating hobby horse until your brain turned to mush.

Your mom and dad wanted to make you happy, but they understood the danger of taking momentary satisfaction to the extreme. In addition, they understood the need to teach you the merits of self—sacrifice. They realized that you would grow up and be released into a world in which discipline was a key factor in your maturity. When they said no to your requests, even to your demands, it was because they didn't want you to believe that you could have anything you want if you simply held your breath and stomped your feet in defiance of their judgment. If you had liberal parents, they probably gave in every time you pouted, screamed, or engaged in other childish tantrums. But, if you were really lucky, you had parents who taught you that you can't always have your own way, and that nobody owes you a living; they were preparing you for adulthood.
 
It seems that this analogy exists in the government today. Liberals say you should have everything you want, that freedom is unlimited, and every grievance should be soothed by the curative balm of government largesse. Conversely, conservatives say you must take responsibility for your own future and not use the blame game as a crutch.

When you take advantage of a legal product like cigarettes, despite warnings of its ill effects, you should not expect a multi—million dollar 'reward' for your own lack of discipline when you get sick. Blowing up like a tick on fast food burgers, fries, and shakes doesn't mean you have the right to get rich as part of a class action lawsuit brought by an army of obese opportunists. And, getting pregnant because you didn't behave responsibly by practicing abstinence or at least taking precautions shouldn't give you a license to kill the child growing inside.

Behavior must have consequences; otherwise we'd be ruled by animal instincts. Freedom must have limitations; otherwise we'd have chaos. Civilization is a social contract in which the participants must agree on the terms of an orderly existence. Those terms involve moral obligations that are consistent with the dominant culture.
 
History teaches us that great civilizations are conquered from within, perhaps because, in their striving for greatness, they abandoned the principles that built their success. Those principles were, and are, grounded in religion. Before there were laws in books, there was religion in the hearts and minds of people struggling to carve a decent life out of a cruel and brutish landscape. Before there was a Constitution to guide us in the building of a nation, there was religion to guide us in the spiritual recognition of a soul.

Yet, in spite of all the lessons of history, we find ourselves in the classic struggle between good and evil. Murder, rape, child abuse and pornography have become so commonplace, the public pays scant attention unless the victim or the offender is a celebrity. Bodies found in garbage dumpsters may not be mentioned at all if a sports playoff game is in the headlines.

We have been systematically conditioned to tolerate behavior that once would have elicited loud gasps from even the most hardened among us. It appears that we have lost our ability to be shocked. Nevertheless, in the face of so much evidence suggesting that we are in desperate need of a spiritual renaissance, those who strive for a rebirth of values are pejoratively referred to as members of the 'religious right.' In other words, if you want a return to the days when 12 year—olds were not having sex with their teachers, child molesters weren't soliciting children on the Internet, and murders didn't occur in multiples every day, you must be some sort of extremist. To paraphrase the late Senator Barry Goldwater, 'Religious activism in the defense of morality is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of decency is no virtue.'

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

Weir Thinking About It

Remember when you were a child and were always asking your parents for things? You wanted more toys, more ice cream, and more rides on the Merry—go—round. If it weren't for your parents you'd have buried yourself in dolls, Batman figures, trains, planes, automobiles, and every other childish bauble and trinket. If not for parental concern you'd have stuffed yourself with Haagen—Daz butter pecan, Dairy Queen shakes, and Carvel chocolate swirl until you qualified for a Sumo wrestling career prior to adolescence. And, you would have stayed on that rotating hobby horse until your brain turned to mush.

Your mom and dad wanted to make you happy, but they understood the danger of taking momentary satisfaction to the extreme. In addition, they understood the need to teach you the merits of self—sacrifice. They realized that you would grow up and be released into a world in which discipline was a key factor in your maturity. When they said no to your requests, even to your demands, it was because they didn't want you to believe that you could have anything you want if you simply held your breath and stomped your feet in defiance of their judgment. If you had liberal parents, they probably gave in every time you pouted, screamed, or engaged in other childish tantrums. But, if you were really lucky, you had parents who taught you that you can't always have your own way, and that nobody owes you a living; they were preparing you for adulthood.
 
It seems that this analogy exists in the government today. Liberals say you should have everything you want, that freedom is unlimited, and every grievance should be soothed by the curative balm of government largesse. Conversely, conservatives say you must take responsibility for your own future and not use the blame game as a crutch.

When you take advantage of a legal product like cigarettes, despite warnings of its ill effects, you should not expect a multi—million dollar 'reward' for your own lack of discipline when you get sick. Blowing up like a tick on fast food burgers, fries, and shakes doesn't mean you have the right to get rich as part of a class action lawsuit brought by an army of obese opportunists. And, getting pregnant because you didn't behave responsibly by practicing abstinence or at least taking precautions shouldn't give you a license to kill the child growing inside.

Behavior must have consequences; otherwise we'd be ruled by animal instincts. Freedom must have limitations; otherwise we'd have chaos. Civilization is a social contract in which the participants must agree on the terms of an orderly existence. Those terms involve moral obligations that are consistent with the dominant culture.
 
History teaches us that great civilizations are conquered from within, perhaps because, in their striving for greatness, they abandoned the principles that built their success. Those principles were, and are, grounded in religion. Before there were laws in books, there was religion in the hearts and minds of people struggling to carve a decent life out of a cruel and brutish landscape. Before there was a Constitution to guide us in the building of a nation, there was religion to guide us in the spiritual recognition of a soul.

Yet, in spite of all the lessons of history, we find ourselves in the classic struggle between good and evil. Murder, rape, child abuse and pornography have become so commonplace, the public pays scant attention unless the victim or the offender is a celebrity. Bodies found in garbage dumpsters may not be mentioned at all if a sports playoff game is in the headlines.

We have been systematically conditioned to tolerate behavior that once would have elicited loud gasps from even the most hardened among us. It appears that we have lost our ability to be shocked. Nevertheless, in the face of so much evidence suggesting that we are in desperate need of a spiritual renaissance, those who strive for a rebirth of values are pejoratively referred to as members of the 'religious right.' In other words, if you want a return to the days when 12 year—olds were not having sex with their teachers, child molesters weren't soliciting children on the Internet, and murders didn't occur in multiples every day, you must be some sort of extremist. To paraphrase the late Senator Barry Goldwater, 'Religious activism in the defense of morality is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of decency is no virtue.'

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com