Monday, August 3, 2009

Nation of Children

Back in April, the Chinese movie star Jackie Chan caused a little stir with some comments that he made:

"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan said. "I'm really confused now. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."

He went on to say: "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

Source: Jackie Chan: Chinese People Need To Be Controlled

As you might imagine, Chan took a good deal of flak for those comments. But was he wrong? And could his comments be expanded to include all people, not just the Chinese?

If you’ve read my posts over the past couple of years, you know that the majority of what I’ve written has dealt with the erosion of our civil liberties. What you haven’t necessarily seen is my frustration that so few people seem to care.

Like Jackie Chan, I too have often wondered if the American people even deserve freedom. We don’t seem to handle it very well, and these days we certainly don’t seem to value it very much either.

Years ago I had a revelation of sorts. I was thinking over my life and trying to determine at exactly what point I had become an “adult”.

1 Corinthians 13:11 says this: When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

When do we become men? And what are these “childish things” that we should put away?

In our materialistic culture, “childish things” would seem to be toys and other playthings of our youth. But I don’t think that that’s what Paul is talking about at all.

Children are immature (no one would argue that), and adults are supposed to be mature. But what is maturity anyway? Knowledge? Wisdom? I don’t think so. I think it’s simpler than that.

Children are selfish by nature. Their whole world revolves around themselves; what they want, when they want it. They don’t think of other people because at that point in their lives all they can focus on is themselves. The world beyond that is too big for them to comprehend.

When a child acts in a selfish manner, we call it childish behavior. Immature behavior.

But if the dominant characteristic of immaturity is selfishness, then it would stand to reason that the dominant characteristic of it’s opposite – maturity – would be selflessness, and if that is true, than the “childish things” that Paul speaks of doing away with are not toys at all; they are selfish behaviors.

There is a ring of truth to that. Think of all the people you know that you consider to be “mature”. My guess would be that they are very selfless people.

So where does that put us? When I look at our society today, I see what I believe is the same thing that Jackie Chan sees; an entire nation of people who have never matured. A nation of people who have been trained from the beginning of their lives to think of no one other than themselves. A nation of children.

And we are spoiled rotten.

The danger in this is that children cannot care for themselves. They are entirely dependent on others to care for them, set boundaries for them, and discipline them.

If this line of reasoning makes sense to you, then consider where that puts us as a culture:

Throughout history, all nations have followed the same cycle: a rise and a fall. Some of these nations lasted for centuries, while others only a few short years, but none have ever endured indefinitely. All of them started, rose in power & wealth to varying degrees, and then eventually met their demise.

It’s very similar to life itself; we’re born, we grow, we decline, we die.

For every nation that has completed this cycle – and they all do eventually – there is an accompanying chain of events that each has followed:

1. People in bondage gain spiritual faith
2. Faith evolves into courage
3. Courage brings about liberty
4. Liberty results in abundance
5. Abundance progresses to selfishness
6. Selfishness turns to complacency
7. Complacency devolves into apathy
8. Apathy leads to dependence
9. Dependence delivers us into bondage

So I would ask you: Where do we stand as a nation today?

Personally, I would have to think that our best days appear to be behind us. And though it pains me to say it, maybe that’s the best thing. It’s certainly what we deserve.


Patty said...

Many years ago I asked myself the same question, "What is maturity?" I listened to see how other people use the word and I was so surprised. Every time I heard people use it to describe their children it was to explain things along the lines of why their 14 year old is dating or why they take their 9 year old to see R-rated movies. I do think we have really warped what this word means.

BegFookinScottishMatthew said...

I posted this full page on my Facebook page...

Anonymous said...

Yes, maybe it is what we deserve...and maybe it is part of God's mercy to us. If/when things get bad for our nation, the hardships suffered may drive many to Christ who, without such duress, would continue living in oblivion to God until they died in their sins. May He have mercy on us all!