A Manifesto, Of Sorts

Irony often speaks truth about life in indirect ways. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes curious, and sometimes somber. This sign stands near the trailhead for Santiago Peak in Southern California and clearly states the intent of the National Park Service. The irony is the pock marks left by the multiple times people have shot at the sign.

We don’t always see the evidence of people not doing what a sign requests. But we know for every sign that says don’t do this there are lots of people who do that exact thing. Most have heard the saying “You can’t legislate morality” and I believe that to be true. A person’s morality is more likely to become cemented in them by the culture they grow up in, but one hopes that when an age of rationality is reached that people can be influenced by reason to make adjustments in their morality helping improve life for themselves and others around them. For this reason, I am delivering my manifesto of sorts in response to all the fatal shootings in our world.

I believe every person has the right to defend themself. If that means owning a gun to protect their home and family, then so be it. If it means you learn a martial art to defend your own, more power to you.

I believe every child has a right to a safe home environment. We know every child is curious and will get into anything. Every parent needs to consider every aspect of making their home free of danger. Lock your guns in a gun safe where only the adults know how to release them.

I believe all weapons should be handled responsibly. I think for every outspoken crazy in the NRA there are many who understand in a reasonable fashion that they are charged with handling their weapons responsibly for the protection of their family.

I believe in peace and the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Interestingly, these are the words of Jesus. I don’t believe in hate, acts of hate, or senseless violence. I believe in love and loving your neighbor, whether you agree with them or not. I believe Jesus perfectly modeled loving your neighbor and your enemy. I believe we can benefit and learn from His example.

I believe every person is worthy to be treated kindly, with respect and dignity. Every person is created in the image of God and has the right to be treated with dignity because of that fact.

I believe in the sanctity of life. Every person deserves to be protected from dangers from outside threats, even the unborn. I believe every person should have access to care and treatment for disease, both physical and mental.

I believe everyone has a right to choose their way of life, religion, or lack of religion. I don’t believe anyone should be belittled, mistreated, or attacked for their choice of religion or way of life.

I believe the police and military’s responsibility is to protect people and not use their position to abuse or look down on civilians. Individuals who mistreat those who they have sworn to protect must be held at the highest level of accountability.

I believe there are dozens of influences in our day and age that are making life increasingly difficult. Bullying from peers, parents who shame their children, sexual and verbal abuse in homes, abundance of addictions, technology creating distance in actual verbal community, and media and entertainment pushing forth unattainable ideals have a horrific influence on those growing up in modern culture.

I believe that increasingly stressful culture, the breakdown of family structure, and diminishing of true community have the effect of creating loneliness and isolation of epidemic proportion. Isolation and loneliness without opportunity to talk it out in safe environments breeds a lack of hope about life and the state of the world.

I believe that lack of hope breeds desperate people–people willing to do anything to rectify perceived wrongs, including mass shootings. I believe hope is essential to living peaceably and in peace with others. I believe mankind needs more hope.

I believe mankind’s biggest problem is pride and selfishness. I think the real issue is the condition of man’s heart–it is broken and irreparably incurable.  I believe this stems from a deepening chasm between mankind and God’s principles. Every person has a conscience and an internal voice of decency and guilt, placed there by God. When we cross that line we know it, but rarely have we been taught what to do with it. Guilt is not a damning feeling of judgment but an invitation to make things right when you have wronged someone. Learning to accept that invitation is a gift.

I believe in healing communities. There needs to be safe places for people to talk about the stresses of culture and a place to be heard and cared for. Sometimes that is a 12-step program, sometimes a church, or even a book group. More healing communities need to be created because only in community can we receive the care to be honest and loved even in our rawest condition.

I believe the only true solution to the problems in the world–acts of violence, crimes of hate, wars of religion, terrorism, addictions, abuse, sex trafficking–is to deal with the human heart.

I believe only God can change the human heart. We try to change but can’t seem to change our own prejudices, how can we actually learn to love those we have hated. We can’t change our deepest moral bankruptcies, and can easily lose hope for changing at all. We can’t change ourselves. Nothing else seems to solve the problem. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Jesus says in Matthew 19:26. God can change our hearts if we submit to His Leading.

I believe hope is attainable and the world is not beyond repair. If people “will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” it says in Old Testament wisdom.

You can’t legislate morality, we all deeply know that. I know that my manifesto isn’t the last word in changing the world or even your outlook, but I hope it is sensible enough to buy into.

What do you think? Do you agree with my manifesto? What would you take issue with? Would you add anything?  Feel free to comment below.

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