Taking Steps toward Leadership–Who’s the criminal?

I recently went to my bank.  I have been with this bank since I moved here last century… I know the names of all the tellers and the managers and they know me.  I went to the door during regular hours, and it was locked!  I knew they weren’t closed because all the employees’ cars were there.  They had installed a brand new security system.  Now, to get into the bank, you had to stand outside in the heat, cold, rain, snow, lovely weather, push a button to get one of the tellers’ attention, the teller had to recognize you or ask what your business was and then buzz you in.  But there is a 2nd set of doors, and you also have to be buzzed into those.  I am on crutches at this point and the prospect of this daunting procedure is really getting on my nerves.

Have you ever gone to your bank and the wait time at the window was 5+ minutes?  Have you ever been in line at the counter for over 5 min?  Of course you have!  But NOW, you have to wait outside until the teller is free to pull him/herself away from business to see what business you have coming into a bank.  Does that shorten the wait time inside or at the drive through?  Nooooo, it lengthens it.  Will there be a line at the buzzer now?  How does this affect when you do your business with the bank?  You cannot depend on having enough time during your lunch break to conduct and conclude your banking business.  You do not want to go to the bank in inclement weather because you don’t know how long you will be standing in it.

Will the bank now have to hire a person to just screen customers at the door so business can be conducted without having to break to interview the person beeping incessantly on the buzzer and cursing the snow or the tornado or the 3 kids pulling on Mom’s leg wanting to go running into the street.  How are they going to make this customer friendly?  It is patently UNfriendly!  This is not the D ring of the Pentagon.

I asked the manager why they were doing this.  She was aghast that I’d even ask the question.  “I have to protect my crew and my customers!  Of COURSE I want as many layers of protection as I can get!”  What if one of her customers IS the robber?  How hard is this demon door to defeat?  Not too difficult.  The thing that assaults my sensibilities is the assumption that Everyone is a Criminal at heart.  It is true.  As a Christian that is what I believe, but I also know right from wrong.  It doesn’t matter if you’re caught or not, some things are always wrong.  Being Good is to be the ultimate goal.  Knowing that there is evil in everyone, you can understand an occasional lapse.  The problem comes in when the perception is that everyone is GOOD to start with and that it isn’t wrong or evil UNLESS YOU GET CAUGHT.  So there are no innocents, there are only evil people that haven’t been caught yet.

NO ONE aspires to be a “boy scout” and it is now a demeaning term.  Good people are scoffed at and referred to as naive and clueless.  Why is it not the goal of everyone to be a good person?  Why do we assume the government will lie and cheat us?  Why is it OK to shoplift because the store over charges us anyway and they’re insured against theft?  Why is it Usual to find a way to cheat on taxes?  Why is it justified to kill someone because we have been wronged, because this person would inconvenience us, or because the justice system is a sham?  Take the show “Dexter.”  He murders serial killers that escape the system.  People root for him!  They hope he doesn’t get caught!  He also kills people that do not deserve to die.  Ooops.  So does the system.  We are tacitly encouraging murder.

We are so accustomed to assuming everyone has that Dark Traveler in them that we set up protection that penalizes people who ARE law abiding.  It may slow down the criminals among us, but it won’t stop them.  When there was the big scandal about mortgages, the government stepped in and censured the bankers to make the process more customer friendly.  But they exempted the very people that were causing this catastrophe.  They bailed out the banks that profited from this debacle!

Now when the people we’re supposed to look up to admit to doing bad, dangerous, treasonous, reckless things, we act as if there’s a statute of limitations on character.  There ISN’T.  The lines of good and bad have been blurred since the danged apple.  If you see yourself as flawed, and make an effort to be good, you become very aware of the things you do right and the things you do wrong.  It’s like becoming aware of your filler words:  Ah, um, well, so…Then you keep hearing them when you talk!  You gradually learn to eliminate them or cut them down drastically eventually.  You strive to do good all the time.  It’s not possible to do all the time, but the goal is there.  If you see yourself as good and just randomly do some bad things, you aren’t striving to do anything. If you see yourself as flawed then trying to do good is expected.  When someone does something egregious, you perceive them as a flawed human being that isn’t aspiring to be good. He’s not trying to be a gentleman, not considerate of others’ well-being, not caring about anything but his own wants and needs.  He’s not deep-down a good person that has just made a mistake, he is a flawed person that has chosen to ignore the laws, ignore the people he affects, and because he CAN do something, he DOES.  This is the definition of a criminal.  It also defines a bully.

Our whole correctional system is based on this perception:  People are basically good, and with proper behavioral modification, they can return to being good.  It didn’t used to be this.  It is called a correctional system.  It used to be punishment.  The perception has changed.  It used to be seen that a flawed person had chosen the wrong behavior and needed to be punished for his crime.  He was a criminal because he chose to act against his neighbors.  He was shunned, he was incarcerated away from everyone, and if he murdered, his life was forfeit.  He had to redeem himself to his neighbors or leave the community.  It was not up to the community to redeem this person and re-integrate him into society.  That was HIS job.  Now, crimes against your neighbors, your friends, your community is considered a lapse in judgement to be shrugged off as a temporary condition.  People are expected to be seeking self gratification, self esteem, self pity…not caring for their community and looking at the bigger picture–the society as a whole.  To put it gothically, sinning is OK, even expected, as long as you don’t get caught.  Do not strive for goodness or righteousness because that is passe.

Look what the results are in our society!  We expect cops to be dirty.  We expect teachers to be lazy.  We expect our government to represent themselves instead of their constituents.  We expect everyone coming into the bank to plan to rob it.  We suspect everyone boarding an airline to want to crash the plane or steal it.  We suspect all the preachers and the churches of bilking their congregations of millions of dollars to enhance their life styles.  We don’t blink an eye at the divorce rate.  We expect businesses to cheat their customers and short change their employees.  We expect employees to steal from their employers.  Our society is corrupt.

What do we do to reverse this?  Throw out those books that say, I’m OK.  Quit listening to those people that contend that everyone is basically good.  We’re not.  Good is something to strive for.  It take EFFORT!  Being bad is easy.  Being worse requires little effort.  There is a right and a wrong.  It is not relatively right.  It is not just anti-PC.  Praising someone for telling it like it is does not give license to be mean and crude.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Striving to be Good and asking for help from God may change our direction, but only if we take a stand.  We cannot stand by and let bad behavior be acceptable any more.  Just because you love the sinner and have forgiven him his crimes doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to be punished for the damage he’s done to his community.  God forgives, God redeems, and God can suspend eternal punishment.  But remember,  Jesus didn’t die just so adulterers wouldn’t have to apologize to their spouses, so pick pockets could keep the profits, so murderers could feel remorse for the family and then kill someone else.   He always said, “Go and sin no more.”  There has to be an Effort to be Good.  By everyone.  And it has to be praised and respected as something to aspire to.

Go.  Be Good.

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