Saturday, November 10, 2012

Givers and Takers, Part 2: A "Taking" Culture

"Back in MY day..."

So begins many a conversation from a parent's perspective to their child or grandchild.

At that moment, the child's eyes begin to roll back in their head and they utter a moan which means, 'Not THIS again!'

Here's the thing: Sometimes it's true!

For example, when we think of the people of Israel, there are those who lived through the amazing stuff that God did in their midst--the plagues, the Red Sea, Manna, Quail, etc. They had seen God work and had experienced something profound.

However, a younger generation grew up and did not appreciate the amazing experiences their parents had been through. The lessons that the parents had learned were lost on the 'youngins'!

The same thing happens in our culture.

In America, there were generations that had fought and died for their independence. Subsequent generations have taken that independence for granted.

For example, we have the right to vote, but millions of eligible voters just stay home.

The 'independent spirit' that had characterized America and American's for generations--which enabled them to expand westward, to establish a growing civilization, to become increasingly educated, to invent amazing things and to refine those inventions...that American spirit which was so crucial to America becoming the most prosperous, strongest nation on the face of the earth, and the most generous, has waned.

In its place, we have an increasing mindset of 'dependence' and an expectation that 'other people' (most often, the government) will take care of us. Increasing numbers of Americans have adopted this mindset, and seem perfectly content to stay there.

Alexander Tytler reportedly observed--way back in 1790, these important and profound words:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years."

What this means is that, as soon as the majority of the people become dependent on the government (and thus financed by the minority of the people), that democracy's days are numbered.

Recently (within the last 2 years), America has passed that threshold. We currently have a slight majority of our people who are, in some direct way, dependent on the government.

To be sure, nations do have a responsibility (caring nations, anyway) to care for those who cannot care for themselves. However, if we continue to allow (and even encourage) increasing numbers who are otherwise very capable to remain dependent on government programs, our days are numbered as a society--because it is fiscally and practically unsustainable.

We have become a 'taking' culture.

And that is a problem--both politically and financially!

The Scriptures make it clear that we should be as independent as we can be--that is, we should try to take responsibility for ourselves and our own needs.

"Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living." (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)

I believe that most of those currently on some form of government dependence don't want to be there. They  feel stuck in a rut of dependency, but don't see a way out. Something deep within them cries for freedom and opportunity, but our system seems to work against them getting free!

If that does not change, the future of our Republic is in very real danger.

Yet, it is difficult to elect leaders who call us to a higher standard--leaders who challenge us to a higher level of responsibility. It is much easier to elect leaders who say, in essence, that 'it's not your fault, it's not a problem--you can stay where you're at, and we'll make it easier for you'. 

That sounds nice, and it may make people feel better...but it's actually harmful.

So, What is the answer?

Two things: 
First, we need to challenge ourselves to work harder and try to be more independent. 

Second, we have to change our system so that opportunities are there for the improvement of our situations, and we are encouraged to be less dependent on our government programs. 

Third, we need to help those who really need it, but in a way which affirms their dignity and encourages them to use their gifts and talents for the good of all. 

To do anything less is creating dependency that is very unhealthy.

We must be a compassionate people...and we must be a responsible people.
If not, our days--quite bluntly--are numbered as a Representative Republic.

What should the CHURCH do in the midst of this situation? 

Tune in tomorrow for part 3!

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