If during 2019 you told me that Minnesota’s summer parades and fairs would be canceled in 2020 — I would have just waved you off and laughed. What was unbelievable last year, is this year’s reality mixed with doses of confusion, fear, chaos and lies. Churches are closed because they are “non-essential” while “essential” liquor stores are open! We’re prevented from shopping in businesses, but rioters can burn them down. Don’t let grandma out of the nursing home but instead send the COVID-19 “positives” to her.

Welcome to 2020!

In James Waller’s book, “Becoming Evil”, he explains how ordinary people commit extraordinary acts of evil. He outlines the forces that shape social conflict, starting with the first-time death comes into the world — the killing of Abel by his brother Cain. Whether you hold this story to be fact or mythical, it sets up the role of the heart within human history.

Humans have a tragic capacity to twist whatever progress we make. Internet technology leads to identity theft, for example. To guard what flows out of a human’s heart, restraints are necessary. The heart’s first line of defense is personal conscience. It triggers emotions of guilt or fear to warn of danger. Propaganda damages our conscience by repeating bias or misleading information to manipulate our beliefs and actions.

The next level of restraint is the family unit — providing generations of morality, discipline, and love that benefit society. Decades of replacing the family structure with Government dependence lead children to lose respect for parental authority. Does the phase, “what would your mother say,” hold back bad behavior anymore?

When the personal conscience and the family unit need an additional level of restraint, government takes its vital role in administering justice. Our Republic is based on the rule of legislative law. Law enforcement’s duty is to uphold these laws. A defunded and demoralized police force leaves individuals fending for themselves. We witnessed, firsthand, the impact of rioters and looters allowed to damage and destroy while “leaders” backed away from their societal duties. When those in government — elected or hired — abdicate their power or abuse it through arbitrary orders or unimaginable brutality, social authority breaks down, with distrust and chaos as a result.

The final restraint for society is faith. President Reagan aspired for America to be the shining city upon a hill. But does that light still shine or is it extinguished and replaced with darkness? Christian tradition tells believers to be salt of the earth. Salt has a rich history in the development of civilizations, acting as a preservative against physical and human decay. Are we still “worth our salt?”

How can we repair our Republic?

Look for the truth, don’t shun your conscience. Restore the family so properly restrained children are the next generation. Work to restore the government’s role of true justice and personal liberty. Look deep in your heart and seek spiritual guidance. The battle for our hearts matter, for out of our hearts flow our character, conversation, and future.

Originally published in the Faribault Daily News, June 2020