Success and Mayhem, Who is Responsible?

The news has been filled to brimming with fodder for blogs the last couple of weeks. Conservatives went into a feeding frenzy with the declaration by Barack Obama: If You’ve Got A Business, You Didn’t Build That . His claim isn’t surprising in light of his overall worldview but to have it so clearly expressed in the political season was a bit jarring so some. The left is rushing to defend the idea that that we are products of our culture, surroundings and upbringing and therefore are only successful because of everyone else and all that went before us.

In the early morning hours of the 20th, as I was driving though California, the breaking news took over XM airwaves that a Gunman kills 12 at ‘Dark Knight Rises’ screening in Colorado. Over the next several days news sources not only reported investigation findings but looked for the cause of this horrendous act. The mad rush by liberals to claim was that it was the gun’s fault began. It was the fault of those evil conservatives is a sub-theme and the anti-Second Amendment advocates are grasping at straws to support their contention as can be seen when ABC’s Brian Ross Incorrectly Suggests Tea Party Link. Others suggest that the shooter, James Holmes, may have been part of the Occupy Wall Street’s Occupy Black Bloc.

Another tragic story which received much less news coverage happened on the 23rd when Fourteen killed in Texas pick-up truck crash. More died in this crash than died in the theatre shooting.

There are obviously differences in each of the stories which can provide a launching point for various discussions. Is it true that entrepreneurs, inventors and risk takers are only successful because of the culture and the provisions of the Federal Government? Isn’t is really true that roads, schools, etc., are funded by taxes which not only individuals pay but that the various successful businesses (and even unsuccessful businesses) also pay?

Did guns cause James Holmes to shoot movie goers? Did the firm industry cause this terrible act? Was it because the TEA Party or Occupy Wall Street exists and is the ultimate cause of his actions?

Were the 23 in the truck crash illegals entering the United States? Were they just, as pcfogarty suggests on The CBS blog:

it may have been two families heading home after a Sunday gathering at a local church . I am guessing that they may have been poor and had no other means of getting back to where they had been staying.

As of this writing, I don’t know if they were illegally entering the country or on their way home from a church social. In some ways, it doesn’t matter, they were breaking the law. Even though in each of the stories there are differences they do demonstrate a fundamental difference in the core worldviews of liberals and conservatives.

Liberals begin with the assumption that humans are basically good and that society causes them to behave in evil and/or unlawful ways. They work to pass laws to protect the individual from society and continually remind who ever will listen that we are all simply recipients or victims of our surroundings. Recipients if we are successful at something and victims if we behave badly. Businesses are successful because they take advantage of poor lowly workers who have paid for the roads, highways, Internet, etc,. which the business uses without contributing anything. Or so it seems to be represented. Gunman go on rampages because guns cause evil behavior or those who are opposed to big government and its abuse and misuse of taxes formed a protest movement called the TEA Party or even that those who are opposed to big corporations and formed another protest movement to Occupy Wall Street. As I listened to the various news stories psychologists and psychiatrists were paraded into various news programs to suggest that James Holmes was a victim of, fill in the blank, society, guns, protest movements, etc., who in turn victimized a theatre full of unsuspecting movie goers.

Conservatives on the other hand, hold that humans are not basically good and craft laws to protect society from the individual that acts badly. Guns are viewed as tools, neither good nor evil in and of themselves. Guns are inanimate not moral agents that makes nor influences decisions any more than trucks make or influences decisions. The guns didn’t cause James Holmes to shoot movie goers any more than the truck caused 23 people to illegally over-crowd the vehicle. If they were illegally entering the United States the truck wasn’t the causal agent for their decision to break the immigration laws. Contrary to Barack Obama’s claims, the existence of the Internet and roadways is not the reason businesses are successful or conversely the cause of James Holmes buying ammunition or the deaths of the 14 in the truck accident. These were simply the means they used to carry out the decisions they made to break the laws which were implemented to protect society from individuals.

I do realize that some appeal to the Bible to support a claim that isn’t actually biblical by using passages out of context. I have addressed this in Barack Obama: Pastor-in-Chief and The Rise of the Evangelical Left . As of late, Scripture is being appealed to by liberals to lend credibility to their claims as much or perhaps even more than conservatives. But misuse of Scripture, by either side, doesn’t invalidate its claims. I could show by example that even though humans can and often do good things, they are not by nature “good.” They may be relatively good compared to others who do more or greater evil, but by nature we are not good. This comes out in a profound and glaring statement by none other than Jesus Christ Himself. In a passage often misused by liberals, Matthew 7:1 which reads:

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged

Jesus goes on to point out that the standards of judgment must be uniform and then goes on to talking about seeking God’s provision. Here He makes the point that although humans can do good things they are by nature evil:

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11)

“If you then being evil…” This is a consistent theme in Scripture. The Apostle Paul states that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and none are righteous (Romans 3:10). While I would suggest that society can influence how we live, the decisions we make and the actions we take, it isn’t the cause of our behavior, success or failure. The influence or peer pressure based on the world view that we are basically not good acts as a restrainer from acting as evil as we might otherwise act not the cause of those actions. On the other hand, the view that we are basically good opens more avenues for evil behavior as it removes personal responsibility and the restraining influence of a moral society.


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