It has been exciting to watch the young athletes compete in Russia – against lots of odds they went to compete against the best in the world. They knew the rules when they signed up. They knew what was expected. They knew they had to do certain things and not do certain things. There was a requirement for training, behavior, dress…they didn’t try to change the rules. They met the standards.
As we think about safe places, what threatens our safe places? What makes us feel threatened? I’m beginning to feel threatened by our culture of raunchiness. It’s more than raunchiness. It is vulgarity at it’s worse and no one is saying “enough”! I am dismayed by what is generally accepted now. There was a day when cursing was a behavior of those with limited vocabularies, sexual behavior was limited to the bedroom, “gay” meant “happy”, clothing was modest, manners were expected, honesty a given, integrity honored, faith respected, marriage was between man and woman and Jesus was not a swear word.
We have accepted the unacceptable so as not to appear “racist” or “intolerant”. We want to be seen as open-minded, inclusive, loving. And in order to be seen that way, we have lowered our own standards and erased our own boundaries for what is decent. We have allowed our culture to be unsafe for decency, integrity, honesty, marriage and Christian faith.
On February 6th the Washington Post ran an editorial, “Scuzz World”, by Daniel Henniger. He likens the Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber’s antics to the freak shows of the circus. Except the freak show used to leave town until the circus returned a year later. Now we are bombarded with scuzz all year long. He wrote, “Adjusting ourselves to vulgarity on such a vast scale is like rust; eventually it is going to erode standards for pretty much everything. Even hard-to-shock entertainers were aghast at the content of the Miley Cyrus inicdent. Putting it on television makes moral baseness the new normal. At some point, even the devil gets grossed out.”
I hope that he is correct – that even hard-to-shock entertainers were aghast. Proverbial wisdom is that there is no bad press – celebrity feeds on attention. These days controversy gets attention instead of ostracism. I recently went to an Andy Warhol exhibit. So empty. Vapid. But he wanted celebrity and we gave it to him.
At what point will we become aghast? Have we lost the ability to be aghast, outraged by vulgar behavior. Why do we tolerate it? A small percentage of our culture is behaving this way but they, the small percentage, aided by the secular press, make us believe they are in the majority. They are not. Why should we tolerate the decline of our culture?
I want a culture that is safe for my grandchildren. I want absolutes. I want standards. Just like the Olympics have standards – everyone admires those that can meet the standards for competition even if gold, silver or bronze aren’t involved. Everyone knows what the expectations are and no one is calling the IOC “intolerant”; they are lining up to be chosen to compete. Being an Olympian is a label of excellence. Discipline. Hard work. And failure but not defeat.
Let’s demand that of our culture. We can do better. We are not defeated.