Photo by Dan Grinwis
Thought for the Week
I was an atheist, and insufferably superior about it. I considered myself more rational, more progressive than my naïve religious friends. But there was one thing I couldn’t explain: The Wallaces. They were the unofficial den parents of our high school theatre group, and their home, in contrast to those of my other friends, exuded peace. “I don’t get it,” I told my friend Marc, “their lives are based on a delusion [they were committed Christ-followers], and yet they’re the most together people I know. How can a fake foundation support such a strong house?”
Eight years later, I began rebuilding my life on that same foundation. But before I got there, I test drove others worldviews, including French phosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theory that natives untouched by our standards of civility (“noble savages”) are innately happy and healthy.
Unlike Rousseau, however, I took a class in anthropology.
The first two field studies I read supported my worldview. The next three blew it to bits. One was a study of a tribe of “unspoiled” Amazonians whose natural way of living centered upon lying, thievery, and physical abuse—the more stolen goods a man owned and the more battered his wives and children were, the more he was admired. Life for most of them was a brief and brutal one built on sinking sand.
The values we live by matter. If they’re true, we flourish, if they’re false, we suffer. Charles Nordhoff, an agnostic 19th century journalist, visited communal societies all over North America. His conclusion? Cultures built on the traditional values of faith and selflessness were peaceful, happy, and flourishing. But literally every community based on experimental theories like Rousseau’s “natural man” idea had either collapsed or was quickly disppearing into the sand it was built upon.
Despair is the most virulent epidemic. Long before COVID 19, suicide rates had doubled, and among children and young teens, tripled. Because once trust in traditional values, civil behavior, and faith are removed, societies quickly spiral downward. Sociologists may blame the internet, but that’s shooting the messenger.
It’s the message itself that matters.
Truth isn’t window dressing. It’s a foundation. Without it, the entire building collapses. The Wallaces had built their house on a Rock, and by their example taught me to do so as well.
So, please, if you love those whose lives are built on sand, show them the alternative…
By building your house on a Rock.