King Solomon wrote, “The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.” (Ecc 1:18) That is exactly what I have found as I’ve gotten older and more experienced – the more I know, the harder it is not to be sad and scared for the world. Growing up I remember hearing old people say, “We’re going to hell in a hand basket.” Well, we’ve arrived at the gates, and now the question is will the gates be opened before we smarten up and run away or will we get to see how bad hell is? I know it’s normal for old people to miss the “good ol’days,” but we’re at another level. Realistically, every great culture of the past has collapsed, so it’s not a question of whether North America will collapse; the question is when.
How’s that for a scary opening? The last few weeks we’ve been discussing the three types of anxieties and how to reduce them. This week is clearly taking a different tone – Have a happy day! Please know I’m not trying to be negative or scary. I’m simply sharing the thoughts in my head – my head can be a fun place sometimes.
As a reminder, here are the three anxieties with definitions:
- Surface Level: These are the fears we face that in a few years won’t matter anymore. Some fears are heavier than others, but in the long run they will all become just a story.
- Life Threatening Level: This category is typically a more intense “I’m in immediate danger and need to move” kind of feeling. It can also be the threat of losing someone very close. Sometimes this category can be a slower, drawn out experience because we know we’re in danger, but the threat is less ravenous carnivore needing a meal and more illness. In these situations, we can only do so much and then we have to distract ourselves in order to not make the situation worse by over thinking.
- Foundational Level: Anxieties in this level includes am I safe? Am I loved? What’s my purpose? Is there a God and anything after this life? This is the level that we can distract ourselves from, but is incredibly important to address… because it’s foundational.
The first three lessons in this series didn’t explained the title, but the next two will – sounds fun doesn’t it? If you need something positive, you’ll want to go back and look at the second lesson because it talks about ways of reducing anxiety, which ultimately comes down to being thankful. An extra point to add to that list is when I struggle to see hope, I like to listen to music with lyrics that remind me it’s ultimately okay. Three great options for fear include
- Kutless: It Is Well (originally a hymn written by a man after he lost his wife and kids) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkSG5ESovug
- Chris Tomlin: Whom Shall I Fear? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOkImV2cJDg
- Zach Williams: Fear is a Liar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5LNfj2F5qI
This week I was talking with my uncle who was born in 1939 and he said that after finishing grade 10 he became a full time farmer on the farm his parents bought when he was 16 for $23k – those were very different times. His dad (my grandpa) was a full time carpenter, but he’d done some farming growing up. He couldn’t get his mind over the idea of a farmer using a tractor. He had only known having horses pull a plow, which meant he refused to have anything to do with the family farm because it wasn’t what he knew and he had no desire to grow. As we get older, we typically prefer the familiar and avoid things that are too exciting. I’m well aware that I’m at risk of being accused of being just another old, out of touch luddite (aka a fuddy duddy), but I see things around me and, as a society, we’re in a lot of trouble. Talking to people my age and older (people born before the internet), there is a general agreement that things are in a really bad spot, and it’s not just the “I don’t like change,” attitude. I consider this topic somewhere between Surface Level and Life Threatening Level because it could lead to the death of our society as we know it. Let’s consider my top 12 reasons why we’re in serious trouble.
- Leaders have NO Integrity: It was once said, “Stupid people are breeding.” I’d say the more accurate slogan is “Stupid people are leading.” I regularly hear from people about the leadership where they work being a bunch of snakes ready to throw anyone under the bus to make themselves look better. There’s also this intense phoniness I’ve experienced with people who want to be in leadership. It’s not about how they can make things better; it’s about how they can make a name for themselves or have power. Leadership shouldn’t be afraid to do what’s right any more than a parent shouldn’t be afraid to tell their kids what they’re doing is wrong. Leaders have a responsibility to be leaders. There is no greater demonstration of this than in the education system. Talk to any teacher and they’ll tell you the schools are a disaster. Between mixing kids together who shouldn’t be in the same class, parents demanding special treatment for their darling child, and teachers having no authority to discipline, and chaos ensues. How can a society improve when the education system is so broken? How can a society flourish when leadership isn’t role modeling how to live with integrity?
- Being Mean is Normal: One of the dumbest things in society is people using hate against people accused of hate. Um, do you not see how hypocritical that is? Any culture that “cancels” someone is disgusting. How is that not bullying on a bigger scale? Oh right, if someone isn’t doing what you believe is right, you’re allowed to punish them because you should be the judge, jury, and executioner. It’s like the more emotionally abusive you are, the more you’re catered to. I regularly talk to people who have the same complaints as I do, but we’re all too scared to say anything. It’s just easier to put our heads down and do our thing. Why? Because the meanest person wins (thanks to bad leadership). On top of this, I keep talking to people who justify their meanness because someone else is mean. You can’t complain someone else is mean if you do it “back” because you’re equals, especially when they’ll be justifying their mean actions because they think you’re mean. Grace is more powerful than revenge… it’s just hard.
- Rich People are Destroying the World: I asked an environmentalist why I can buy biodegradable plastic bags for my green bin, but we keep using plastic that doesn’t decompose in everything else we use. He told me it’s because there’s too much money made in making non biodegradable plastic. That’s terrifying. So we’re destroying the planet for rich people. It’s like why aren’t we using more biodiesel? It’s incredibly cleaner without the brutal impact the batteries from electric cars cause. Oh right, there’s more money in electric cars and they give a status to the owners: “Look at what I can afford.”
- We’ve Lost Respect for the Elderly: The invention of the VCR was a major turning point for young people losing respect for their elders. In a way it makes sense; if your parents are asking you how to work the VCR, what else don’t they know? In a society that is increasingly based on technology, the elders get further and further behind and the drop in respect ensues. What we forget is after 30 our brains become less geared to learning than a kid’s. Plus, the elders have had a lifetime without this new technology, so they’re often okay without living with it now. Add to the fact they’ve seen so many changes, at some point you’re like, “It’s just another fad that will be replaced. I’m good with my current system.” Unfortunately, just because you don’t get technology doesn’t mean you don’t have other things to offer. What we often forget is the elders have knowledge you can’t find on Google. They have family stories and wisdom developed from experience. They know how to do cursive writing and how to have face to face conversations while living without a screen. Young people might enjoy the latest advancement, but life experience carries a power that can’t be replaced.
- We’ve Forgotten How to Suffer Well: Suffering is part of life and an important part of overcoming challenges. We’re so pampered in North America we’ve become weak and forget the importance of pushing people to face challenges including anything in the “anxiety” umbrella. Suffering can develop character, teach empathy, and push people for better (e.g. there’s a reason climates with winter tend to have more innovative people). Instead of being good at suffering, we just push the fear of it. For instance, I believe our environment is in danger and I understand we need to do something, but I’m tired of seeing these stories of climate change without any practical solutions to help for a person like me. You can’t scare people and be like “Be scared… now buy something from our sponsor to feel better.” They’re trying to trigger our Life Threatening Level without a way to work at being better, which is very dangerous.
- We Lack Shame & Integrity: Last month a boy brought a knife to school and his mom’s response was, “It took my son bringing a knife to school to get help.” What’s wrong with you? Your son brought a knife to school! You should be begging for forgiveness for being the parent of a child who committed such an intense crime. Media is one of the worst for lacking shame and integrity. There was a time when you respected people in the news, but not anymore. It’s a whole lot of degenerates trying to look woke, create a controversial issue for interest, or make a scary enough topic to get people to pay attention.
- The Integrity of Marriage has been Destroyed: Divorce has become normal, but how can we say our vows to the most important person in our lives and publically say “For better or for worse…” and then see divorce as an option without incredible consideration. If we can’t keep this vow, how can we expect people to keep any promise, especially smaller ones? On top of this, divorce has an incredible impact on our children and society at large. For instance, why is there a housing shortage? It doesn’t help that instead of one house a lot of families now have two because the parents are split up. How can we have a healthy society when our families are so broken? To add to this, 30 years ago people waited until marriage to live together because it was so respected, but now choosing a life partner is a casual thing: “Let’s see if this works.” Choosing your partner is more important than your career, yet we base it on feelings, “It feels like I love them.” Even worse, affairs have become normalized. Infidelity should be considered disgusting because it is a huge betrayal, but it’s almost glamorized in TV. People justify it as “I wasn’t happy,” or “This new person is my soul mate.” No, you’re cheaters and you should feel shame… oh, right. We’ve lost shame.
- The Integrity of the Family has been Lost: Between divorce and having a culture that worships money over family, we’ve created a society where it’s almost impossible not to have both parents working, but how can parents be at their best when their exhausted from working all day? How can children bond with their parents if they’re raised in daycare and before and after school programs? How can families bond if they don’t have something they all do together like go to church every Sunday because there’s nothing that actually bonds everyone together anymore? Throw in the fact that we don’t value the different rolls everyone plays in a family, and the problem is dramatically increased. For instance, there is a severe loss of respect for men in our culture and in some cases there should be a lack of respect because the men are degenerates, yet women sleep with them to further encourage their lack of responsibility. Between men not being respectable and some women looking for ways to look down on men for being different than them, men have reached a very unhealthy level of weakness, which includes hiding behind work, alcohol, pot, and video games.
- We Don’t Respect Sex: How can we end the abortion debate? Stop having sex until you’re ready to have kids. You can satisfy hormones without sex… unless you’ve had it and then it’s harder no different than a cocaine addict trying to use a softer drug to get high – our body is too damaged to get the effect it should be getting with lighter stuff. If you wait on sex, you don’t need it as bad (says the guy who waited until he was 35 and married). Even further, how did it become acceptable to let anyone, especially girls under 18, dress like prostitutes? How has dressing like a skank become associated to female power? It’s not power to be objectified, but how do you look at someone dressed for sex as anything but a sex object? Why don’t we respect our bodies or other people’s bodies anymore? We should have a healthy fear towards touching people and all the more healthy fear of putting our body parts into each other. How has sex become something people casually do without even knowing the person? Sex should be kept as an intimate privilege between a couple who have committed to be together until death do them part.
- We’re Overly Mental Illness Focused: As a culture, we need a balance of helping the weak while also encouraging the development of the strong. Unfortunately, our society seems to care more about those at the bottom than helping raise others to the top. Here’s a tip to education leadership: Putting poor students with smart ones only makes the poor ones feel dumber while either frustrating the smart ones or making them cocky. There’s house league and Triple A hockey for a reason – let the best strive for better while letting the lower levels have fun and feel good about themselves where they are at. Competition, in general is important. We need to experience winning and losing. The risk of losing is exciting and drives us to be better. Losing itself can be a gift since it can help motivate us to be better the next time. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies have done an amazing job at making people think pain is bad and should be stopped. Why live better when you can take a drug and continue living wrong?
- “Tolerance”: One of the most dangerous words right now is “tolerance” – I hate that word. How come the people preaching “tolerance” are the least tolerant of those who don’t agree with them? That’s not tolerance. Why aren’t we promoting kindness? Whether I agree with someone or not shouldn’t matter. We should be allowed different opinions. What’s important is whether we show respect to those who are different than us. Having people around us with different opinions is actually good for us; it makes us sharper (i.e. “Swords sharpen swords”). We shouldn’t have to let everything be allowed for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, but we should be kind. The whole “You do you” concept makes me nauseous. No, have integrity. Care about others and how your decisions impact others. We need to stop being so selfish.
- Enabling: I was raised with the lesson, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” This was a way to encourage helping people help themselves, but now it seems it’s expected we just give people fish. People don’t want to have to work for the reward. It also used to be said, “You made your bed; now you have to lie in it,” but enablers (e.g. parents and education leadership) will cater to the weakest denominator. You can’t inspire people to be better without someone suffering for what they’ve done. People need to face the repercussions for their choices, and parents need to let their kids fall on their faces and figure out how to pick themselves up. That’s how we grow up and be independent. I feel gross when I hear parents do their kid’s homework, especially when they’re in high school (or older) or moms sleeping in the same bed as their kids. If you want to cuddle with someone, cuddle with your husband. Moms are meant to be moms and not helicopters or anacondas.
I’ve just dumped a list of frustrations and fears… I hope it was more thought provoking than anxiety causing. Here’s a positive thought to end this lesson: The darker the world, the brighter a light can shine (if the darkness doesn’t try to snuff it out… sorry, I’m still a little negative minded right now). If we can be kind even in the face of the darkness around us, we can make a difference. If we can offer grace instead of meanness, we can change the world around us. If we can focus on making ourselves as emotionally healthy as we can, we can inspire others to do the same.
This week may you consider how you can be kinder.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, Learning to love dumb people (like me)