Moral Crisis

In the USA, we have it so good that when the smallest thing goes bad, we catastrophize. We have conquered raging rivers with our elaborate dam systems, and wiped out life threatening childhood diseases. We moved from the horse and buggy as the principle means of transportation to manned missions to the moon and back. From simple frame houses with ‘a path’ to homes our grandparents could have hardly dreamed of with carpet-covered floors, central heat and air, microwave ovens, and remotely controlled digital televisions that we regulate from a vibrating recliner – all in the space of virtually one lifetime. My grandchildren find it difficult to believe that when I was a child, most television programs were only in black-and-white with no programming after midnight. During daytime hours, only a few channels were available and a good signal often required a major struggle with “rabbit ears.” To change a channel, one had to walk all the way across the room. How primitive.

We have created paradise. We are so prosperous and dominant that the wars of the last six decades have required little sacrifice at home. Even as sons and daughters die abroad, we continue as if we were in peace-time as a nation. Those who lived through previous wars could never have imagined such a thing. We have developed the narcissistic conviction that nothing should affect our lives, diminish our personal liberty, limit our wants or will. The majority of the world knows no such enclave from life’s hazards and menaces. And here in America, that is beginning to change.

“The new millennium began with much of the world consumed in armed conflict or cultivating an uncertain peace.”[1] In 2005, there were eight major wars under way, apart from some two dozen minor skirmishes. Two years earlier that figure had been 50 percent higher. Each year, tensions rise in the Middle East, and it seems that the whole region may erupt in conflict. We move from one terrorist threat to another, different, more sophisticated, and more lethal. Those who live on our southern border suggest a near war with the drug cartel is already in progress. Yet, in most of America, life goes happily, blindly on.

Consider this: If the whole world were a village of 100, 80 would live in substandard housing, and a significant number of those would live on the streets. Fifty would suffer from malnutrition, 33 would not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Twenty-four would not have any electricity. Of those with electricity, the vast majority would use it only for light at night. An estimated 90% of the world’s population would find life in the typical American garage better living space than their present home. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, a place to sleep tonight, you are among the top 75 percent of people on the planet in terms of comfort. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in your pocket, you are among the top 8 percent of the wealthy in the world. Yet, we are plagued with worry.

Once we rolled up our sleeves and growled back at nature, picking up the debris of hurricanes and tornadoes, providing relief for the world, rebuilding in a matter of months, planting and renewing, smiling and swelling with pride that we were innovative and resourceful, wise and able to match nature’s wrath with equal resolve. We are delusional.[2] A few years ago, an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan. In this nation, a vicious outbreak of tornadoes affected six southern states. A Northeastern hurricane crippled New York and New Jersey with monstrous devastation. New Orleans, years after Katrina, left whole streets with empty houses. Haiti has not fully recovered from its deadly earthquake. A recent Mississippi flood was the worst in 80 years with small rural farm communities intentionally flooded to save larger cities in an area of devastation that stretched from Memphis to New Orleans. The earth reels. Nature is vicious. Sin and death have infected the cosmos itself. It will not be tamed until Christ, the Creator and Redeemer returns. We need God.

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P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

[1] Natsu Taylor Saito, Meeting the Enemy: American Exceptionalism and International Law (New York: NYU Press, 2010), 222.

[2] Elizabeth Kea, Editor, Amazed by Grace; Section: “The Grace of Wonder” by Brennan Mannning (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing, The W Publishing Group; 2003), 157-158.