They aren’t serious…
“They” could be any number of people on any number of topics.
They aren’t serious because what they say hasn’t been thought out. It’s just a reaction, a quick response. Maybe the words spoken are meant to sound like they care, or that they are seriously thinking about a situation, or who knows what.
Here’s the thing, they aren’t serious. They never meant to be taken seriously. They are offering a knee jerk reaction because that’s what they think they are supposed to do, or because it makes it seem like they care, or because what is said becomes a distraction from their own culpability. Or something else.
They aren’t serious. Especially when its so easy to poke holes in the ideas that are offered. Again, any number of issues could be talked about here. Child sexual abuse within the church has a they who aren’t serious. Anti-Vaccination folks. QAnon folks or any number of conspiracy theories. Those that deny that we have any racial problems at all in our society. And responses to mass shootings.
“Every school should have an armed officer!” Great. How are you going to find enough folks? I saw that there are approximately 130,000 schools in this nation. And the more important question – how are you going fund this endeavor – especially when the people who offer this idea are usually the ones who are voting to cut education funding. You can’t have it both ways – that doesn’t work in reality. I need to remember – they aren’t serious and this isn’t a serious idea. Why do I lend legitimacy to it with a response?
“We should have only one way in or out of a school and have doors that lock on the inside to prevent someone from coming in.” Oh really? Have we talked with a Fire Marshall about that idea? What happens when there is a fire and we need to get several hundred people out quickly? And I’m pretty sure that a locking door isn’t going to stop someone. What if they get inside first and lock the door. And then there is only one exit and it is locked on the outside? I need to remember – they aren’t serious and this isn’t a serious idea. Why do I lend legitimacy to it with a response?
“We need to make schools hardened targets?” So more like prisons? Sounds like a great learning environment. We’ll be teaching our children to live in fear constantly. A great lesson to teach them. I need to remember – they aren’t serious and this isn’t a serious idea. Why do I lend legitimacy to it with a response?
“We need to arm teachers.” So we’re going to trust teachers with a deadly weapon, which is not part of their contracts or what they were trained in. But we aren’t going to trust teachers with the things that they are trained to do – teach, select appropriate books, facilitate conversation, teach critical thinking skills, etc. How exactly does that make sense? I need to remember – they aren’t serious and this isn’t a serious idea. Why do I lend legitimacy to it with a response?
It doesn’t make any sense because none of these things are serious. Yet for some reason we offer thought out responses to nonsensical ideas as if these ideas are of equal value. Maybe because some elected official said them. Having worked for a Member of Congress and a State Representative, and been around many elected officials in my life, here’s what I know – none of these people are special, or more intelligent, or healthier than the rest of society. They just happened to get the most votes in an election. There’s plenty of elected officials who have mental health challenges, addiction, broken relationships, irrational fears, etc. Why can I say that – because it’s true of the general population too. And elected officials come from the population. They aren’t any different than anyone else. We do a great disservice to this nation when we make elected officials into something special, or treat them as better than anyone else. They aren’t. They are human and flawed and broken, just like everyone else.
You know why I know none of these ideas or the ideas to come are serious? Because in a month, or maybe even less, we will have moved on to something else with no movement at all on any of them. They are just as empty as “thoughts and prayers.”
They are as serious as the “All Lives Matter” slogan that slinked away when it became apparent that the phrase was not true in the least bit. It was just a throw away line in response to something people didn’t want to hear.
They aren’t serious.
What I’m learning over the last few years is that there are people who will lie to our faces for their own benefit. There are people who will do and say things, even to their own detriment, if it means that they can grab onto some kind of power of control or order – no matter the cost to other people. There are people who want to conned. There are people who will continue to believe lies because the truth exposes them and their attachment and addiction to being right over anything else. There are people who take great delight in cruelty. I’ve learned a great deal about people in the last few years. Things I wish I never learned.
And I’ve learned to stop chasing after these folks – nothing I can say or do will change them. I’ve learned to confront them and how and when it is appropriate – not by using the same tactics because I would become the very thing that I can’t stand. Rather, to confront in a way that is loving, based on truth, and firm in resolve that there are boundaries that will not be crossed. I’ve learned to keep speaking up and to not shut up no matter how much pressure they exert. I’ve learned how to make these folks uncomfortable in appropriate ways with the purpose of either dealing with the actual issue or causing them to slink away because they fear conflict and being exposed. I’ve learned to cut these folks out of my life too because they are toxic and unhealthy – and I don’t feel guilty about doing that.
And maybe more importantly, I’ve learned about other folks. I’ve learned about the kind people. The people who take their faith seriously. The people who try and fail and try again. The people who seek the way of peace. The people who stand up for justice and against injustice. The people who won’t quit. The people who have a deeper understanding of what love actually is. The people who I want to spend time with and be in community with. The people who are working to create healthy environments and cultures and institutions and organizations. The people who recognize that it’s not all or nothing, my way or the highway, and instead value diversity of thought because it moves us towards truth.
These are the folks I take seriously – when they speak and act. Because these folks are authentic and congruent. You don’t have to guess with them. They are whole. They remind me of Christ. And I need more Christ in my life.
Rome did not fall in a day.
I know, I know. The poem says it the OTHER way. But this is just as true.
Rome was sacked by barbarians more than once. Isn’t that odd?
A quick look at the barbarians tells us that the barbarians, outsiders, were not really the problem. In fact, barbarians may have a lot going for them, but they do not know how to build or maintain an empire. They are probably as shocked to conquer one as the imperials, but once they’ve looted, raped, and pillaged, they don’t know what else to do but retreat to the other side of the river or mountain or whatever.
Barbarians are stunned to find imperial order.
They never saw forests growing in perfect rows of apples or pecans or peaches. They never saw man made rivers (aqueducts) and canals watering fertile fields with planted rows of food. They only know trails, not roads and highways.
So ever since they breached the edge of the empire all the way to Rome itself, they find a world like they have never seen, and have no idea how to make this massive machine go.
And so, they retreat, not in defeat, but in victory.
And once gone, the survivors of empire rise to their knees, dust off, and try to put humpty dumpty back together again, but now they have to blame each other for whatever went wrong.
Empire had been a gift of the gods.
Never mind the fact that blood, sweat, and tears were poured into its construction. None of that mattered without the legitimation of the gods, the guidance of the gods, and the will of the gods.
Generations change over time.
Even Israel is constituted on the Mountain of God, but must wander the desert until a new generation willing to follow God as he kills giants is raised up.
All the more true of empire builders.
Empire builders start off humble – sorta… by comparison. They too are in awe of the thing they construct. They know the depth of sacrifice and the value of pulling TOGETHER to achieve it. Even if they credit the gods, the KNOW this stuff.
Subsequent generations are born into a privilege they never truly understand. Their meat comes in cellophane, and the sacrifice is only a few denarii. If the sacrifice were to rise one or two denarii, there will be great complaining over the depth of sacrifice now paid for meat in cellophane!
This is something empire builders whose blood, sweat, and tears make mortar for imperial bricks never know.
The respect for OTHERS who pull weight in this diminishes. The blame game begins. Other insiders are the new outsiders. The HEART of empire is betrayed by it’s own doctor Frankenstein. And, of course, there are barbarians OUT THERE only too happy and too ready to take advantage of this betrayal even though they have no idea how to steer the wheel of empire.
You could plunge a whole world into dark ages for ages to come in such ways. But you can’t tell a child of privilege that. They have no ears to hear it.