Sometimes I just have to shake my head in disbelief at the sinking-boat society we live in.
I know it sounds unfair and awfully judgmental, but if you know me you know that’s not who I am. It’s just that I marvel at how educated our American society can be, and yet have no bearings on what is right. We’re educated for the purpose of knowing things. But to what end?
I just finished reading another article outlining a long overdue research project done by a study group. While I always approach “research” with a skeptical eye (especially when I’m not the one who did the research), I find that again the research has served no purpose in the larger scale, but to give us a snapshot of ourselves. Knowing statistics is utterly pointless unless learning those things steer our society in a better, more positive, more constructive, healthier direction.
Finding things out about our society is only part of the equation. I was recently vacuuming and noticed the vacuum was giving off a high pitched sound. I thought that the sound perhaps was the result of something wrong with the machine, so I decided to take it apart and investigate. Sure enough, I found that the drive belt had broken and needed to be replaced. Once I discovered the issue, I most certainly didn’t continue to use the vacuum and expect it to clean the carpet properly. That would have been insane. After all, it was broken. It was not working. It was effectively inoperable. If research doesn’t ultimately bring repair, then what good is the research?
We’re more aware, yes. But still awry as a society.
Suppose I could invite America to go on a cruise with me. Suppose that during the course of our cruise, someone discovers a leak in the hull. Would discovering that leak make us any better off? I suppose you could argue that point; that at least we now KNOW something isn’t right. But what we REALLY need is a welder–someone who can fix the leak. What America seems to do is point out the leak (through research) and then go back to the lido deck for a limbo contest.
Here’s the problem. Some people like leaks. And for me to suggest that the leak is a sign that something is wrong is, well, judgmental. Who am I to say that a leaky hull will lead to a sinking ship? This is precisely what we seem to do with research in our country. Its a finger that points out leaks and yet leaves us sinking.
Even if we could agree that we need a “welder” who can fix the leak, we then can’t agree on which one. The most popular is the welder of education. The idea is that if we can just get smarter about things, we’ll be just fine. Can somebody please show me how and where that has ever worked? I’m not saying education is a problem, but it certainly isn’t the solution some people seem to think it is. Again…we’re aware, yet still awry.
Having research and/or statistics in hand is a good start; it can serve to show us where we are. But the critical issue is where we’re going from where we are. Are we aiming at peace? Are we shooting for universal harmony? Are we striving for a wide variety of cures? Is it tolerance we’re after? Are we going for a world where I’m okay, and you’re okay, and that’s okay? To me, our societal direction is indiscernible, and what which is discernible is disconcerting to say the least.
And I’m no Eeyore. If you know me, I’d hope that I’d rank among the cheeriest and carefree people you know. I’m optimistic to a fault, so don’t think I’m some doomsday kind of guy either. That’s just not me.
What I AM is I’m someone passionate about what’s true, and therefore right, and therefore should be repeated. I have a feeling that cuts across the grain of our society, but quite frankly I’m at a point in my life where I simply don’t care about lesser things.
So, what should we do with research, statistics, and findings? Let me suggest a few things:
1. Test the “facts”. I recently heard the 87% of statistics are made up on the spot. As funny as that is, I wouldn’t be surprised by it. So, do your due diligence to find the facts…the real ones.
2. Steer away from danger. I know it gets sticky here because as a nation, we don’t all agree with what constitutes danger. Let me give an example. I believe its dangerous to reject God’s teaching on marriage. The ramifications of turning our collective backs on what God says on this issue are numerous. We would be wise to not merely see the facts, but use them to steer ourselves into a different direction.
Suppose we were taking a trip, your family and mine. We’re going to drive across the country. My minivan is full of my wife and kids, so you take your own car. We do our best to stick together, but I’ve got a heavy foot which causes me to get up ahead of you. As I’m driving (with you a couple miles back), I come across a barricade that blocks a bridge we had planned to use as a part of our route. So, I quickly stop, get turned around, and very soon our vehicles meet up once again. I roll down my window, and say to you, “Don’t go that way! The bridge is out!” Imagine you yelling back, “That’s okay, I’m going to go that way anyhow!”
Sounds crazy, right? But it seems that no matter what piece of information we get as a nation, we continue to fly down the highway, shrugging off any and all warnings that the direction we’re headed isn’t a good one.
3. Share the truth. We’ve got a problem here in our country. It’s the idea that you have nothing to do with me. Let’s go back to the bridge illustration. Imagine that I’m up ahead of you on our trip, I come across that bridge that’s out, so I turn around heading back in your direction. Only this time, when we meet up again, I don’t roll down the window. I don’t even slow down. I don’t say a word. I don’t warn you, I don’t stop you, and I don’t share what I know with you. How has this way of living become the norm? How have we gotten to where you don’t matter enough to me to share the truth with you? We have no problem sharing “The restaurant has terrible service and awful food. Don’t go there” and “That hair stylist has no business cutting anyone’s hair” and “That movie plot went nowhere. Save your $10 for something else”, but one the bigger issues of life, we’re much slower to say, “Hey don’t go that way. The bridge is out.” Why? Because my business is none of your business…or so we think.
So, being aware is only one part of the equation. Learning things and even discussing things is only a portion of what must be done. What difference does it make in the long haul? What are we DOING with what we’re LEARNING? That is the issue.