I remember my dad commenting often about his dismay that so many of his peers at church seemed to believe that "it's only cheating if you get caught" as it applied to relatively minor infractions like driving over the speed limit to more potentially damaging ethical/moral issues in confronted by business owners and other members of our congregation. Dad believed that an essential part of a christian lifestyle was to obey laws in all areas of life, regardless of what one might be able to "get away" with. "Render unto Caesar..." etc.It is of course too easy to over simplify moral issues as we see how they apply to others, but when reflecting on my own life, I realize that there are so many mitigating factors for each of us that it is not fair to judge others with no consideration for the particulars of each persons struggles and difficult choices they face in their lives. The problem that I find impossible to resolve these days is that it is impossible to know actual facts, since our mainstream media focuses on scandals and other negative experiences that we all struggle with at times, and those who make news are convicted before they ever get a fair hearing.I read a lot in an effort to sift and sort fact from fiction, and am disheartened by the number of political figures, sports heroes, and others in the public eye who have contributed great things to their communities and nation, but end up spending their time trying to defend actions that happen to all of us, but for some reason they have to live "perfect" lives. An unforgiving society is an unhealthy place to raise our children, where I want to teach that it is okay to make mistakes, but is not okay to walk away from them. But how can I teach my children to face up to their mistakes if I know that they will be made into an "example" rather than dealt with constructively? For their own survival I fear that they will need to be extremely careful who they talk to with any level of trust, since our communities and nation are so quick to condemn with no consideration for the individual circumstances leading up to misjudgements and mistakes that often happen when they feel cornered or get talked into doing something "daring" by friends, etc. For a nation that considers itself christian, I wonder why the focus is so much on punitive justice rather than restorative justice? If the golden rule is truly considered to be a apart of christian belief, then our nation needs to change its hypocritical ways. How we treat others in our society is one key point that we are judged on as a nation. We have made some progress since electing Barack Obama, but have miles to go before we can sleep with clear conscience.
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