In the past year an increase in serious crime has come to the attention of city administrators and the news media. And the increase in felonies, particularly violent felonies like aggravated assault and homicide, by teenagers and even younger children is increasing. The news in Albuquerque, New Mexico has pointed to the increase in gun violence, causing some legislators to propose banning some types of weapons and making it more difficult for honest citizens to obtain guns. They attack serious crime by increasing police patrols. An increase in police presence is needed, but that isn’t going to cure the violence. And, blaming guns for violence using them is misplaced. Criminals will always be able to obtain weapons. More people are killed in automotive accidents every year than by gun violence, but a ban on automobiles would be silly. We need to look at the why of crime and other societal ills. We need to ask what is it that causes crime, dishonesty in business and government.
One reason for the high crime rate in some cities is the lack of fundamental education of its children. A direct correlation exists between the quality of education and the crime rate. People who are not capable of obtaining and holding good paying jobs often resort to crime in order to feed their families. New Mexico, and particularly Albuquerque, has the lowest national ranking for the quality of basic education, and it ranks in the top 10 cities nation wide for the amount of crime. Teachers have to buy supplies for their students out of their own meager wages, but that isn’t enough. I know one really good teacher, and she is constantly frustrated by the lack of attention to the students’ welfare by administrators. And, one teacher here and there can’t raise the quality of the skills learned by students over the whole of the school system. So again, why do city and state administrators fail students?
Police officials tell us that the majority of serious crime, including homicide, is perpetrated by the same 20 percent of criminals such as gang members, drug dealers, and other specific groups of criminals. So police are targeting those groups, which is what they should do. That’s their job, and they do it well. But curing the cause of crime isn’t their job. So whose job is it?
The majority of citizens look to state legislators to cure crime by passing laws that help reduce crime, which they do by enacting misplaced laws that address symptoms of the crimes they try to reduce instead of the root causes. Laws are passed giving more aid to the homeless and recovery options for drug and alcohol addicts. Those laws and policies are also addressing symptoms rather than root causes. And that doesn’t work too well. Feeding, housing and clothing the homeless doesn’t address why those citizens of our country find themselves homeless.
The same root cause for criminality is the same basic cause of civil misdeeds like misappropriation of funds by business persons and government officials. A former county sheriff who became a judge has been arrested for spending huge amounts of county money on himself. Almost everyone who has been involved with President Trump’s attempts to stop governmental investigations into his misdeeds has ended up being charged with crimes, some already going to prison.
So, what is the fundamental cause of the cultural toxicity in our country and others? Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says the reason we need hundreds of law books filled with thousands of laws is because people refuse to follow ten lines of God’s instructions chiseled into a stone tablet. That is certainly true. People pay lip service to the Ten Commandments today, and the highest court in the United States has decreed that crosses and the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed on public property. I don’t think I’ve heard one legislator or police official suggest biblical solutions to society’s ills. One reason is because our courts prohibit them from doing so. But ultimately crime and other social problems isn’t the fault of law enforcement or legislators. It’s the fault of the People of this country who make the choice not to follow God’s commandments that were later restated by Christ. It is the individual person’s fault for not loving God with all their heart, mind, sole and strength, and loving their neighbor as themselves that causes crime and other problems. Jesus said those two laws sum up all the commandments and the law.
The question remains as to why people chose to disobey God. That is the root cause of societal toxicity. Correct that issue and societal problems will go away. That issue is the subject of next week’s blog. I apologize for the cliff hanger, but the issue is too involved for just one week’s blog. For the next week try to follow the Great Commandment to evangelize all the world, and personally try to follow Christs admonishment to love Him above all else. Loving Him leads to leads to following Him. And, if everyone followed Christ there would be no crime. Changing society starts with you, the individual Christian, not the police or legislators. It’s all of us together that will change society. Get started today.