I heard of a British a jurist named Lord Moultin who claimed that in our life together we need to look at a scale. The scale goes from left to right. 20% of the things on the right are things that we are not to do. In any civil society we should not kill, lie, cheat, steal, etc. These things are prohibited by common law. On the left-hand side of the scale or things we have to do. These are things like paying our taxes, getting insurance, and some people would say they are not much different than the things on the right. According to this gentleman everything in the middle is the glue that holds society together. They are the common rituals, mores, customs, and the things that bind a community together based upon a common understanding of life together. They are the things that are taught by parents to their children, by older siblings to the younger, our uncles and grandparents, pastors and teachers.
. They are the things that peopleg used to take for granted. They are the things that many of us have never thought about for years. These are the things that we were taught by watching our dads, on a hunting trip and the respect they had for the game. We were taught by older boys to be fair and protect the weak. We were taught to respect the elderly, protect the vulnerable, try to understand the disabled. If it sounds like Norman Rockwell’s America it was.
Moultins point was that the stuff in the middle was the stuff that keeps a society together and when they are no longer commonly observed there is no more society. When we cannot agree that it is proper to rise for the flag or anthem no matter what country we are in, we have lost a compass point. If we cannot all agree that it is criminal for young people to taunt and laugh at a handicapped man who is drounding without lifting a finger to help him, we have lost any moral standing. When the video these monsters took of that event are paraded around the Internet as entertainment, we have lost our mind. When we allow historical monuments to be defaced or destroyed my ignorant and probably illiterate children who know nothing about their history we have become illiterate and ignorant.
I was there at the beginning of the descent and remember how I felt when a woman for whom I had opened a store door screamed at me. She did not have to have a door opened for her by any man no matter how young he was. I remember my feelings being hurt, and then I remember the joy I felt when she could not open the door by herself when she left and dropped all her packages. I remember the guilt I felt because of the joy I felt. The decent continued when a society that called itself civil, could not come to agreement on abortion, Capital punishment, or, it seemed anything else in our life together.
The word society, comes from another word which used to mean companion. I would like to think that society means we have companions with whom we travel through life who help, support, and work together. Martin Luther’s view of society was that it was organized in such a way that Christians who had received mercy could be merciful and help and benefit their neighbors. Sadly we have gotten to a point now, where rather than feeling our neighbors are companions searching for a good with us, our companions may just as likely be ready to slice our throats.