A friend who is a college student at a nearby Christian school asked for my response to a set of three questions for one of her classes. I had a really hard time coming up with answers, but finally wrote something. I know I may have some disagree with me on these answers, but I thought I'd share them if for no other reason than to encourage you to think about how you would answer the questions. Josh also answered the same questions and I was jealous of his wise answers. However, I do see that his came from a "man" perspective and mine came more from a "mom" perspective. In any case, here they are:
Questions: What do you think the 3 most important social problems in the U.S. are? Why do you believe these are the 3 most important social problems? And how might these problems be solved?
1. A lack of community. Years ago, our nation thrived on a sense of community. Neighbors cared for each other, helped each other and were genuinely known by one another. Now, we can live in the same community and know nothing of our neighbors. We have become a society of indviduals. There are several problems with this. First, we were not created to be alone. God commands us to love our neighbors - which would imply that we actually have met them! Secondly, as believers, we have to earn the right to share Christ with others. It takes personal investment in a neighbor's life before they can see the difference of Jesus in you. Thirdly, our children are missing out on the riches of knowing others. There will be varied cultures, ideas, religions and talents represented in our communities. Our children will miss the opportunity to invest in others and to be invested in because their parents have become so isolated. We cannot expect this trend to change if we do not teach our children to foster community with others. This will not be easy to solve. To create a sense of community, people will have to deliberately go out of their way to begin this in their own neighborhoods. This is something that parents will have to teach their children. I think the Church can be instrumental in changing this trend in society. Churches should be reaching out to their local communities and individual families must do the same.
2. Lack of moral education. After having our children in public school, I witnessed first hand the lack of moral education in our schools. Our children have been bullied - both physically and emotionally - and have witnessed the punishment of those who do right and the lack of discipline for those who do wrong. We have created so many laws to protect the innocent that we have tied the hands of our teachers and administrators from carrying out any lasting form of discipline. I'm not suggesting that teachers should be allowed to spank or strike a child, however they should have the right to teach what is right and wrong and to expect it from the children in their classrooms with consequenes for poor behavior and attitudes.
I see this issue as a major social problem because children are growing up with the belief that if they know how to bend the rules or hide their actions, they can get away with anything. Children are learning that bullying is equal to strength and that those who show kindness are weak. And children are learning from authority figures that no one really cares. One of the things my kids were told in school was that they were not allowed to tattle. That translated to my children feeling that they had no right to speak up when picked on. And more than once, my children were told, "I won't listen to you. Deal with it on your own." by teachers who ought to have been their champions. Without moral concern or education in our schools, the next generation will be a sorry lot indeed! I want to be careful here and be sure to state that there are some teachers and caregivers who diligently watch and correct the behavior of those in their care. However, I think we need to introduce higher expectations in our schools. Kids are at school for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. In 180 days of school, that translates to roughly 1440 hours per year in the care of adults other than their parents and church leaders. The schools have a tremendous impact on our children! Until we hold them accountable to teaching not only educational standards, but moral standards as well, we will not see change in this area.
3. Hatred disguised as tolerance. This last one will hit a nerve with many in our society. We have become so focused on tolerance in our society. We are told that everyone must be accepted and loved for exactly who they are and must not be subjected to change for the benefit of another. I think the problem with this train of thought is that it contains truth, but also covers a lie. Yes, we should love all and seek to minister and befriend without bias as Jesus did. However, we are all sinful and do need to change. Another problem with this doctrine is that while many are being celebrated for their differences, Christians are seen as oppressive and backward. We are shunned for our beliefs - specifically the beliefs that there is absolute truth and that Christ is the only way to God. I have seen hatred mounting - both in government policy and in local outcry - against the Christians. We are told that this is to protect and tolerate all, but in reality it is silencing those who wish to proclaim Christ. I think the only way for this issue to be "solved" is for Christians to step up and serve in government and in leadership positions throughout the country. The voices that have the most impact are those that are given power to create change. Unfortunately, many Christians want nothing to do with the corruption of politics and so we give up the right to be heard. I don't believe we will see change in this issue until Christians take the on the challenge of affecting change nationwide.