I’m haunted by the story of Taryn Hathaway, the 13-year-old Salinas, Calif., girl who reportedly was told by her art teacher at Gavilan View Middle School that her lovely drawing of the American flag with the words “God Bless America” inscribed on it was “offensive.”
The reason I say I’m “haunted” is because the story perfectly distills everything that is wrong with America today.
Look at the picture Taryn drew.
Is this remotely offensive in any conceivable way?
Of course not. And yet, some people are indeed offended by the American flag, by God, by the Bible, by the Boy Scouts, by our soldiers, by tea partiers, by success itself – by everyone and everything that is decent and wholesome and noble in our country. Let’s find out why.
First, let’s depart Salinas and survey the surrounding landscape.
What is this bizarre, topsy-turvy mentality taking hold in our country, which makes some of us rich in “compassion” for corruption, but viciously attack decency and reason?
Why, in America today, do an increasing number of us see good as evil, and evil as good?
Some of us are twisted up as a result of having been either corrupted or indoctrinated. Whether we’re seduced into sexual immorality, terribly spoiled by weak and insecure parents, tempted to hate and blame others for our problems and retreat into perpetual “victimhood,” or indoctrinated by leftist professors into seductive but malignant ideologies like Marxism – the result is an automatic change in our values and worldview. Up becomes down and right becomes wrong.
Obvious example: Say you’re tempted to join a criminal gang: The police, once a benign and protective force in your life (when you were law-abiding) are now seen as enemies, while the drug-dealing gangbanger, once a predatory character to avoid, is now your friend and benefactor.
More subtle and common example: You’re a good kid who goes off to college, but you are seduced into sexual immorality. Whereas formerly you believed in God, the Ten Commandments and traditional morality, now that you’ve been tempted to cross over a great moral line, you magically see everything differently in this new realm: You’re suddenly uncomfortable around those who still advocate the morality and common sense you left behind. Your attitudes toward abortion, homosexuality and all other moral/sexual issues have also “evolved”; you’re more “tolerant” – toward other immoral people – but are strangely intolerant of those who remind you of the moral standards you left behind.
What we’re talking about here is not political, cultural or even religious. It’s spiritual. There is light and there is darkness in this world. And the darkness cannot stand the light.
By the way, news reports say the 13-year-old flag girl’s teacher – who deemed the “God Bless America” flag offensive – warmly approved of another student’s picture of Barack Obama, who is currently dismantling America and everything that beautiful flag stands for.
Still, you might well wonder, how could anybody be offended by a little girl drawing an American flag with “God Bless America” on it? Obviously I don’t know this particular teacher’s mind, but here are some possibilities: “‘God Bless America’ may offend atheists,” or “We’re in a public school, so this is a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state,” or “America is pursuing immoral wars, so I’m offended by mindless flag-waving patriotism that leads to killing,” and so on. Whatever the rationale, such mental babble serves only to cover up the underlying reality that the darkness that has wormed its way into us is offended by something noble, which makes the darkness feel uncomfortable.
Of course, as I explain throughout “How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America,” redemption is always available to all of us. If only we realized that just facing this inner darkness honestly and with total transparency – and believe me, there’s some of it in all of us – is the equivalent to letting the light of God shine on it, driving it away.
It’s kind of like when you’ve wronged somebody but haven’t yet had the courage to go to them and apologize. So you feel the conflict of it in your soul. But then, when you finally face the problem honestly and sincerely confess and apologize to the person you offended, the problem and the conflict vanish into thin air. You’re clean, free, healed. It’s over – almost like it never happened. That’s the magic of repentance and confession and forgiveness. That’s what I’m talking about here, except the one we’ve offended is not some other person. It’s God. And He’s not even looking for an apology – not in words, anyway. He just wants us to stop running away from Him into the velvety darkness of pride and anger, where good seems evil and evil seems good.