The Pursuit of Wisdom

Nothing so characterizes post-modern American culture more than a simple lack of good sense and sound judgement.  This seems to become more the case every day.  It can be seen by even a casual observer of current events and trends.  People lack the ability to look beyond the obvious, to look beyond the media narratives, and to critically analyze issues.  Examples abound.

American society was rocked in recent months by a few media-dominating police shootings, mostly of young Black men.  The result was riots and looting, denunciations of the police and even the concept of law enforcement, denunciations of the country and its historical foundations, and cries of “systemic racism.”  But it is easy to see that police shootings almost invariably have one of three factors involved.  In most instances, the victim has either committed a crime or is in the presence of someone who has.  Secondly, often the victim is intoxicated or has taken drugs.  Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, the victim fails to cooperate with the police.  Over and over, at least one of these factors is present. 

The widely reported Minneapolis incident earlier in the summer illustrates this.  A police officer harshly overused a tactic to subdue a suspect, and the horrifying video was widely reported as the officer murdering the victim.  While the case has yet to work its way through the judicial system, what is known is that the suspect likely had committed a crime, he was not cooperating with the officers on scene, and he had a potentially fatal amount of fentanyl in his system.  Absent even one of these three factors, he would still be alive.  Race may or may not have even been a factor.  A widely reported Colorado case involving the death of a young Black man has been the subject of multiple investigations over several months.  There is no indication that the young man committed a crime, nor any indication of drugs.  What seems obvious is that he refused to cooperate with police officers investigating a report of a crime when he happened by.  He became agitated, paramedics were called and administered a sedative, and he tragically died due to the sedative.  He likely would have gone on his way and would still be alive if he had simply exercised better judgement and cooperated with the police.

These and other incidents are used, ironically, as proof that law enforcement cannot be trusted and should be resisted.  This blame shifting only serves to make the problem worse.  Instead of riots and protests, common sense would dictate that efforts would be better directed at reminding youth of all ages and races that their actions have consequences.

The collapse of the traditional home is creating monumental problems throughout society.  It is now the common pattern that a young Black person was born to an unmarried teenage mother who herself was born to an unmarried teenage mother.  Statistics clearly show that this is a disaster.  Children who grow up in such a situation are far more likely to have poor outcomes than children who experience growing up in traditional settings.  Reasoned observation confirms this and has for decades.  In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan published “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” At that time, 25% of blacks were born outside of wedlock, a number that Moynihan said was catastrophic to the Black community.  Moynihan, who went on to hold a number of governmental positions including United States senator, wrote: “A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken homes, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future—that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social structure—that is not only to be expected, it is very near to inevitable.”  The 25% number in 1965 was far smaller than the number today, and unfortunately not merely among Blacks.

Common sense and science confirm that one’s sex and gender are fixed and unchangeable from the moment of conception.  Media and government may fawn over transgenderism, but in doing so no favor is done to the unfortunate individuals involved.  Transgenderism will not buy long term fulfilment and joy.  It will certainly be to the detriment of the individual’s physical health when they receive harmful hormones and experience physical mutilation.  Moving a child in this direction is nothing short of child abuse.     

The human-caused climate change mantra often shows a lack of reasoned thought and analysis.  The whole argument in its simplest form suggests that industrial production of carbon dioxide (and to a lesser extent a few other gasses) is dooming the planet to an environmental disaster.  The atmosphere contains just over 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide.  While China, India, and the rest of the world continue to increase their production of gasses, the suggested solution is that the United States and Europe virtually eliminate industrial and transportation-related production of carbon dioxide.  By doing this, at enormous cost, disruption to society, and environmental damage, the promise is that a few parts per million can be shaved off of atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, and this will save the planet and introduce a climate utopia.  Climate has indeed modulated throughout Earth’s history due to various causes science only partially understands, even before the industrial era, and climate change has often produced positive results such as increased crop yields.  This is ignored.  Proofs of anthropogenic climate change are offered that often are not proofs at all when thoroughly analyzed.  Yet climate change is accepted as an unquestionable axiom.    

Knowledge as an accumulation of facts grows today at a rapid pace.  The internet brings information and reports of events both trivial and important almost instantly.  But wisdom, the ability to take information, carefully consider facts, and address life situations and needs, is in dangerously short supply.  As Christians, we understand that wisdom and discernment, and common sense, comes through the Lord Jesus Christ – “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24)” – and through the written Word, the Bible – “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15)”.  James 1:5 reminds us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  We must pursue wisdom, not just in matters of faith, but in the general affairs of life as well.  “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom.  And in all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).”

Scripture helps us understand that there is a great metanarrative of history and human existence, the overarching account of ultimate purpose, history, events, and circumstances.  That story teaches us that God created the universe, the disaster of the Fall and sin ruined the world, God has provided for our redemption in Christ, and history will one day end in the great promised consummation of the ages, all within the sovereignty of God and for His ultimate glory and purposes.  Lack of good judgement has plagued human experience since the beginning of time; it is not a phenomenon confined to any particular generation, any one social class, culture, or nation.  Ultimately, for the Christian, one who has come to faith in Christ and the gospel, good judgement in life in large measure derives from biblical wisdom, observing God’s mandates to us, seeing life from God’s perspective, and responding accordingly.  As citizens, we can in some measured ways confront the unwise views of people around us; it is our right and our responsibility.  But our greater responsibility as Christians is to live sensibly and to confront people with the wisdom found in Christ and the Scriptures.  Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”                   

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