Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crime, Gangs and Secularism

Post 30—:

The past few years BC has had to live with a very lively gang regime that goes far beyond anything reasonable and kilometres beyond anything we should put up with. Shootings, killings, guns, drugs and every kind of violence and vice make up the picture. We are living in a reign of terror. Innocent neighbours, bystanders or passers by are getting shot. The police are doing the very best they can under the circumstances. In the process, they are spending fortunes on staff hours, finances and every resource at hand.

Acording to Kim Bolan and her colleague Daphne Bramham, both of the Vancouver Sun, the murder rate has been going down. Quite a number of gang leaders are behind bars, awaiting trial in the province. Others have been charged and convicted south of the border. So, the police are making serious progress and we ought to appreciate them for their efforts. I so do.

What to do about it? It is clear from letters to editors of local newspapers that the public is getting tired of all this violence and danger lurking all around us. Not a few argue for stiffer laws and stiffer sentences. They get terribly impatient with judges who to them appear to be overly lenient with these thugs and do more to protect their civil rights than the security of ordinary citizens.

Both Bolan and Bramham—see above—are among my favourite columnists around town, Bolan especially because of her crime beat. Bramham has a couple of general suggestions. “We need to act boldly,” is one of her recipes. Fair enough, but how, in which way? “We need to address the root causes” is another one of hers. You don’t know how often I have heard that advice in various community workshops discussing social ills around town. It has become a mantra among those dealing with the issue. Indeed, address the root causes, but I have noticed that people never get beyond pointing to just another level of underlying symptoms such as drugs and alcohol. But why are those causes so common? They are not causes; certainly no underlying causes; they are mere symptoms of something deeper that Vancouver does not want to address.

I have an idea that most people around Vancouver will regard as outrageous and even offensive. When I suggested it once to my table mates at one of these seminars, they looked at me with shock in their eyes. The whole table was quiet for some seconds. Then someone started another discussion—a blatantly diversionary tactic. No one wanted to address the basic cause I suggested. I picked on secularism as a basic cause. Yes, secularism. Since my statement constituted a direct challenge to the worldview of almost everybody around the table, they were not in a mood to accept the challenge and look at it. No surprise, really. Most people resist serious challenges to their worldview. That comes too close to home. That could make me partly responsible for the problems under discussion.

Why did I suggest secularism as a basic cause? Because secularism has replaced Christianity in Vancouver but only in a general way. Though Christianity was never perfectly practiced by anyone, it had provided a perspective with which people could handle and interpret the challenges life hurls at us. Secularism may have replaced it, but it is largely an empty frame of reference on which most people cannot build their life. It is a weak base on which to build a society. It gives a person no moral hold with any degree of imperative. It does not offer firm standards by which to conduct oneself. Everyone sets his own standard.

When a society recognizes no spiritual transcendent standards beyond itself that it it regards as sacred and inviolable, all too many people cave in to the process of lowering standards that is taking place in society. Parents have little or no firm guidance to bequeath to their kids and so the next generation lowers its standards even more, a generational cycle without end. All you have to do is compare the movies of 50 years ago with the current crop and you will immediately notice the difference. Same thing for fashions. What was considered sexy, shocking and avant garde then, is now blasé. What is common now, would have been highly offensive then. This process has been going on at almost all cultural fronts—marriage and divorce, abortion, free-lance sex of every kind, reduced sense of authority and respect. People have lost their sense of meaning. Many wander around on this planet with a feeling of emptiness and uselessness. So they find some sort of relief in alcohol and drugs; others in diversions like sport. Moral sensitivities have dulled and the challenges of an exciting gang life with money and power overcome many young people.

I am not suggesting that every secularist is a drifting clod in a sea of meaninglessness, open to every temptation that comes his way. I have several secularists as friends and they are the finest of people. They are Humanists in the best sense of the word with high morals and clear vision of right and wrong. They are guided by an elevated moral reason that largely keeps them on track, though they also espouse the horror of abortion. They are strong intellectuals who can mostly resist the situation described above, but the next generations?

Here, I believe, we have a major basic cause, one that is hard to overcome, that most of us cannot and do not even want to overcome. So, if we wait until we have overcome this basic cause, we will be paralyzed and achieve nothing, since we don’t want to overcome it.

Now you may think I have really gone cuckoo, I bet! Question secularism?! Get off the pot! But it’s actually nothing new. The latest challenge to secularism is postmodernism. But long prior to that, I am the product of a revival that challenged secularism and continues to do so, a wholesale revival across all cultural segments. It’s called the Kuyperian revival that started a century and a half ago and is still working and spreading its tentacles across the world. It has actually successfully challenged secularism at various fronts in Canada, in the courts, in education, in labour and in areas of social justice, but it has not dethroned it. While some of us pray and work towards such a revival, others of us should work on reducing the negative effects of the symptoms. Both need to happen, but in the next and other future posts I will concentrate on ways to reduce these negative effects, the symptoms.

In the next post I will begin to offer a suggestion or two about tackling the symptoms. These suggestions will likely be considered be equally outrageous by “experts.” In fact, one expert has already done so when I contacted her some time ago. As I occasionally get back to this subject, I will often ask you to think outside of our current boxes of political correctness. I am no expert on these subjects, but, judging from the results the “experts” have to show for so far, it may be the time for an open and blatant non-expert to throw his hat+ into the hopper and see if we can’t shake things loose a bit. In the meantime, if you haven’t done so yet, I urge you to check out this Kuyper and Kuyperian stuff I refer to occasionally, so you know what I am talking about. You can google and find plenty to chew on. You can also go to the Kuyperiana page on my website>.

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