culture

25 Right Impulses

My last post was about "25 Contradictions," and it was simply a list of what I believe are contradictory impulses, moral reflexes, and ideas that our culture is built upon and actively propagates.

The following is a list of some things I see in our culture that I believe are noble, admirable, and right. i.e. good things. If the first list is a snapshot of some of the broken side of our culture, this is a snapshot of the some of the good side. It's the dichotomy of our legacy. As humans, we have inherited both a profound brokenness, and some deep-rooted impulses regarding what is righteous and good.


1. Help the poor. Personally, communally, radically, and thoroughly.

2. Help the hurting and broken. I'm not saying legal crack houses are a good idea - but some of the moral impulse behind them may be.

3. Tolerance. Good, true, wholesome tolerance is one of the key ingredients for a flourishing society. Not the kind that has no moral backbone - no, I have in mind quite the opposite. True tolerance refuses to lynch people for being different.

4. Moral courage. Related to tolerance, moral courage not only tolerates it's neighbors - it refuses to let neighbors lynch other neighbors for being different. This is the kind of stuff that prevents holocausts.

5. Stewardship of the Earth. Regardless of your opinion on climate change, the urge of normal people to protect the Earth, and leave it in tact for posterity, is a very good urge.

6. Protect the weak. This is what the ADA is about. This instinct is integral to healthy masculinity, and even hides behind some forms of feminism (did I just imply females are weak? oops). Much of our legislation is about protecting the weak. In a healthy society, might does not make right.

7. Most people are ready and willing to help their neighbor.

8. We desire peace. This is a deep-rooted desire in most people. Although Shaeffer was right, personal peace is a false-god in America, the desire for peace is right - if kept off the throne.

9. We desire prosperity. Mammon, destroyer of worlds, is among the most awful of false-gods - and yet, the desire for prosperity is not evil in itself. It grows from a more basic want: to flourish, to thrive, to live. Humanity was created for wealth and prosperity unimaginable.

10. We desire Shalom: for everything to be in it's place, fulfilling it's purpose, and relating to everything else in a healthy and beneficial harmony. This is the desire for the opposite of brokenness.

11. We crave joy and happiness.

12. We long for satisfying work. Our jobs will never give us the eternal fulfillment we seek - but we were indeed created to work, and it is not wrong to seek satisfaction in our jobs. Doing a good job is a part of being a good human.

13. Hunger for friendship. Man is a communal creature. Our sick and dying culture is hooked on social media. There are some good hungers beneath even our deadly addictions.

14. We seek a savior. People long for leadership; for a grown-up to come solve what they perceive as the problems of the world. Bernie Sanders cannot bear that burden, but Jesus can, and has. In fact, he has solved the true problems, not just the symptoms. 

15. Give food to hungry people. Why do people give food to hungry people, rather than ignoring them? That seems very un-evolutionary.

16. Push for social justice. In spite of what secularists and liberals want the world to think, this is not the calling of hairless monkeys - it is the calling of the children of God, of the new humanity. Perhaps even among the ungodly, there is a whisper of the "old humanity," too.

17. Generosity. Even our tax system rewards generosity. Before you think of corruption, contradiction, and hypocrisy, stop to consider: some people are genuinely generous. Why?

18. Fight. We often feel the impulse to fight. There are some things worth fighting for, and there are some things worth fighting against.

19. Racial justice. I hate reading on social media about racial justice. It seems like my friends want me to feel ashamed for being white, American, etc. But when I stop to consider that a mere 50 years ago, my country was still writhing in agony over the end of Jim Crow type garbage, I become slower to complain. I am not ashamed of being white - but I know racism is real, and I know it it evil. See #3 and #4. The urge to fight for racial justice is good indeed.

20. Society, at it's best, seeks, pursues, creates, protects, and fights for:
21: Goodness;
22: Truth; and
23: Beauty. 

24. Society often demands the truth, and we still maintain cultural taboos against deception, double-speak, and nonsense. We still believe in mathematics. The universe presents order, and we submit to reality when we accept that two and two make four. So far our culture still resists that worst of Orwellian nightmares - hardcore doublespeak. 

25. People worship. We worship by giving our lives to something, and by delighting in it. That is one instinct that seems inextinguishable, as if it is hard-wired into us as humans. The urge to worship is good - it is in fact our most basic purpose, our telos.


Perhaps you could see the above list as a weak attempt to balance out my last post (a complaint against our society). Or maybe some of it looks a little too rosy colored to you. Maybe naive or ignorant or lazy. Regardless of the impression it leaves, please don't miss this reality: All of humanity has evil and good mixed up in it. My previous post was about some of the evil in our culture today; this one is about a little of the good.

Why the dichotomy? Well, that dichotomy is what this website is all about.