July 10, 2015

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Are the inmates in charge of this asylum we live in?

Cynthia DewesWe’ve all heard that there are times when the inmates are in charge of the asylum. And I’m beginning to think that this is one of those times.

We’ve seen the recent TV news video of a big high school boy beating up on a female classmate while a school administrator stands by helplessly. The story claimed this was possible because school administrators are forbidden to interfere when students behave violently.

A teacher friend told me even if a kid stood right in front of her and uttered a profanity at her, she was not permitted to react except to reply in a quiet tone. She was to divert the students, not punish or reprimand them. According to the news story, this policy will be changed, but my question is, “Changed to what?”

Also fairly recent are many news stories about little children, even babies as young as 3 months, being murdered by their parents, either overtly or by neglect. They’re often stuffed in a dumpster like any other piece of trash.

This is terribly shocking until we think about abortion. If unborn babies can be killed legally because parents want to select the sex, or just because having a baby is inconvenient, why not get rid of them after they’re born? Why not discard what is not instantly gratifying, just as we do old leftover magazines? Built-in obsolescence can extend beyond washing machines, after all.

When we come to modern methods of saving ourselves from our own carelessness or stupidity, the list of amazements continues to rise. While seat belts in cars have saved many lives, including my own, must we invent more and more ways to be secure besides using our brains? In 20 years, I’d like to read statistics about the actual value of certain restraints, cars that park themselves, and GPS devices that distract you with constant directives.

The new attitude about producing children also mystifies me. I saw a woman on TV (where else?) who clutched her guitar and said, “This is my baby right now.” She had vague ideas about having an actual baby sometime in the future. She was already in her 30s, so good luck. My question, beyond worrying about the continuation of the human race, is: Will her guitar visit her in the nursing home, or assist her medication?

Now, lest we get too depressed about all this craziness, let’s remember who’s in charge here. And try as we might, it’s definitely not us. If we go at life as if everything that happens depends upon us, we will either fail or do something stupid, and maybe both. We need to put things in perspective.

First, I think we should remember history and heed its lessons. The old saw about ignoring history leads to repeating it often happens to be true. We need to learn from our mistakes and, on the other hand, try to repeat the ways we’ve succeeded.

Then, there’s the social factor. We need to weigh what popular wisdom is encouraging against what is morally correct and sensible. If we’re uncomfortable with something, we probably should not do it. Following our gut is more often right than wrong.

Most of all, I think we need to relax and accept God’s generous grace. We can observe the craziness and kind of enjoy the silliness of it without embracing it. We can be secure in our humanity and in the knowledge that God loves us, regardless.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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