A Tale of Three Families.

There’s this upscale neighborhood, surrounded by other neighborhoods which are mixtures of more modest homes and dilapidated shacks. Within this upscale neighborhood, there’s one particular home that’s stands out. The builders looked at other homes and myriad home plans, noting the good ideas and mistakes, and the use of materials that looked impressive but didn’t have the quality to stand up to time, and they decided to build for the ages. They poured a deep and solid foundation, heeding the biblical admonition to build on the rock rather than sand. The floor joists were 2 by 6’s rather than 2 by 4’s. The roof trusses were extra thick, the roof itself of steel rather than shingle. The wiring was the highest quality solid copper, and the plumbing pipes were the best PEX and copper. The logs were treated with fire resistant coating. The resulting home not only looked good, it survived storms and fire better than it’s neighbors, providing shelter for many in times of need.

This home also has a problem, one that’s hidden. Inside the walls are termites and spiders. “Well, so what, out of sight, out of mind,” says one of the three families living in the home, the Statusquo family. They noticed the occasional termite, but ignored it. Then one day, the spiders decide to go bug shopping en masse in the living room. “Argh”, goes the arachnophobic second family living there, the Revolutionaries. “There’s no hope for this house, burn it down!” The third family living there, the Reformers, loves the home more than they hate the spiders. “Don’t burn it down”, they say, “we have too much invested in it. The foundation is solid, the roof is in great shape and the design is the envy of the neighborhood. Let’s get a thorough inspection and see what the true condition is, then we can start fixing what is wrong”, they state. “How much will that cost?” complains the status quo family. “What’s wrong with an occasional spider or termite?” “Burn baby, burn” say the Revolutionaries, “preferably with the Statusquo family in it.” “Let’s fix it up better than ever” counter the Reformers. “It is worth it.” “Too much money”, complain the Statusquos. “It’s only bugs anyway.”

So it goes. The United States was built on a firm foundation, with a Constitution informed by biblical principles, that is the envy of the world. It has been copied by other nations, but not as successfully, due to ignorance of the foundational principles. The United States is a pretty good place to live, but far from perfect, as any agglomeration of human beings will be flawed. There’s much about the United States in need of reform and improvement. Do we ignore the flaws, keep striving to make gradual improvements, or burn it down because nothing but perfection is acceptable, and gradual improvement takes too much time and wisdom? Your answer will depend on which of the three families you belong to.

The first step is to define the mission, the ultimate goal of our actions. As anyone who has been through a home remodeling can attest, the initial vision of the finished product often must be modified to account for unexpected conditions. Usually, some kind of rot is discovered, and more advanced than anticipated, but once the project has begun, the best way is usually forward. If you quit, you may be living in a wreck. Therefore, be committed to seeing it through, before beginning it. Professionals are able to plan for both the end result and the most effective detours around the unexpected. Amateurs just lurch from ad hoc fixes to inadequate patches. Or worse, they have no attainable vision so they burn it down. I was scrolling through my Flipboard feed yesterday, and came across this headlined statement from (guess which family): “I am a peacemaker by nature. I identify as a liberal — someone who values not just tolerance, but acceptance; embracing others with love even when I don’t agree with them. Not anymore. Like many, I was shocked when a terrible bully became the ‘leader’ of this country. It forced me to do a lot of soul searching. And I realized the rise of Donald Trump is largely my liberal, peacemaking fault. We tried too hard to be nice, civil, understanding and polite. My white privilege lulled me into the false belief that things were better and kindness was key.” I responded to her by asking, “what is your plan and your platform for improving the country?” The only response I got was “the truth hurts, you Trump groupie.” I was not defending Trump, I never even mentioned him. 

Does she have a vision for the home, or a remodeling plan? If so, it certainly isn’t front and center. She went on to justify violent “resistance” if necessary, though never specified what to resist. All of her other respondents chirped in with the same sentiment, one even saying “burn, baby, burn.” That’s like the Revolutionary family saying, “we don’t care how well it’s built or that it’s the envy of the neighborhood, any spiders and termites are unacceptable! Only perfection is acceptable.” Trying to save everyone’s home, the Reformers call for a vote. The Statusquos vote to get an inspection, as long as the other families pay. The Revolutionaries, when the vote goes against them, light up the torches. The Reformers agree to pay for the inspection while trying to douse the torches.

The spiders and termites in the United States are mainly the injustices that some individuals perpetrate on others–like in any other country. We have been making progress on almost every injustice, but for the Revolutionaries, progress is the enemy of utopian perfection now. Nevertheless, there’s hardly anyone in the world who wouldn’t trade places with us. Those places who deem themselves superior to the United States still depend on us a great deal for defense (the United States accounts for over 71% of the NATO defense budget), trade and innovation. If we burn down, who will step up against tyranny? Revolutionaries flatter themselves that they are rising up because so many things are wrong. The truth is that so many things are wrong due to the spirit of rebellion.

Author: iamcurmudgeon

When I began this blog, I was a 70 year old man, with a young mind and a body trying to recover from a stroke, and my purpose for this whole blog thing is to provoke thinking, to ridicule reflex reaction, and provide a legacy to my children.

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