There seems to be a lot of judging going on about our community about others without first really getting to know them.
Why are we so quick to cast the first stone?
The historical Jesus waarns us about doing so, “Do not judge others with a splinter in their eye when we have a log in ours.”
The ethos of a people is defined as “the tone, character, and quality of their life, it’s moral and aesthetic style and mood, the picture we have of the way things in sheer actuality are, our most comprehensive ideas of order” (Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures).
It appears our ethos of the day in our community is very much like the early Jewish social world where the conventional wisdom of the day became increasingly dualistic. That is, their social world became structured around the polarities of holiness as separation: clean, and unclean, purity and defilement, sacred and profane, Jew and Gentile, righteous and sinner or all better known as the “holiness code.”
Have we become so trapped in our own pain that has limited us to such a narrow vision of reality? It seems that we see reality as hostile, indifferent, or “judge,” then self-preservation becomes our first law in our ethos.
We must be following the “broad way,” instead of “the narrow way” that Jesus asked us to follow him in. The broad way leads to the way of bondage, blindness, the way of the cure. The narrow way is the path of liberation, the way of sight, “the way of the saints,” or transformation of the heart.
The broad way tells us not to banquet with the sinner, the outcasts, the marginalized of society. Yet “God makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust” (Matthew 5:45, Luke 6:3). Jesus was teaching us to follow the narrow path, the path of transformation, asking us to create a new heart, centering ourselves in God and the way of death.
If we follow the broad way, the conventional wisdom of our day it seems, the way that creates more anxiety, self-concern, blindness, and the quest for security, we cannot as a community change the kind of tree the sinner or outcast is by dealing only with his/her fruit. Transformation of an individual does not take place on the externals, the fruit, or the use of correct doctrines.
Is the drug dealer actually mirroring our own emotional pain that we do not want to embrace because it hurts too much to go there (the deep internals) and heal it? I am making an invitation to you to see differently this “drug war,” a change of perception, that we have set out to protect our own community members from the insidious effects of crystal meth. Crystal meth is usually the last drug to be used when all other drugs have failed to inebriate the pain.
No matter the addiction, the “fruit,” it is usually only a symptom of some very deep emotional problems.
Five common reasons have been given for years as to reasons why youth use, and they are:
• Curiosity and experimentation.
• Peer pressure.
• The perception of fun.
• The desire to look grown-up.
Crime is often the behavioral response to accumulated anger. In Thom S. Rainer’s book, “The Bridger Generation,” he writes about a generation (and including some of the previous generation) of young people who are walking teenage time bombs, a generation of “chaotic, dysfunctional, fatherless, Godless and jobless” young folks.
It’s been pointed out in the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine that one out of five youth of this generation is “suffering from some type of mental or emotional disorder, such as depression, hyperactivity, chronic drug use, anorexia, and so on,” all of which are symptoms of bad fruit hanging on the tree branch.
The research literature points to a plethora of possibilities to explain some of this anger and I must tell you, I see it every time I visit our youth in the Moffat County Jail:
Frustration at parents who fail to communicate and give them time.
Increasing poverty rates among children and teens/economic uncertainty.
Frustration at lack of guidelines, certainty, and boundaries.
I am a strong advocate of making the youngster/adult face the consequences of his/her actions.
We cannot change our laws and courts to treat symptoms without addressing the root of the problem through the healing process.
It will take long hours of therapist/offender one-on-one time to even start “correcting” the problem, a problem that needs healing, not curing or fixing. Pain that is not spiritually healed will always transmit itself “out there,” onto someone else.
The root of the demand is at home. It is the demand for drugs that brings about the supplier — simple economics. It is our own community ethos that’s getting in the way of our winning the drug war.
We create the demand, someone will fill it. Let’s look into our own hearts first before judging someone out there. Remove the fruit, yes, and then let us nurture the tree with the right love.
Remember, God’s love and rain pours on the righteous and the sinner alike, no matter where they come from.
We must have a passionate mission to transform the culture of our day, the conventional wisdom we use to guide us into tomorrow.