There is a famous quote from John Lydgate which says “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. There is a serious problem in trying to please more and more people more of the time. The value or significance of the pleasing “thing” is continually diminished in substance and scope. It’s like trying to find a drink that everyone will enjoy. You might love soda, tea, coffee or a nice glass of wine. But you will not find a consensus with everybody so you start diluting the offering more and more until you have nothing left but water and you still won’t make everybody happy.
It was announced last week that Target will change the toy and bedding department in their stores to be “gender neutral”. If they had done this with no fanfare we would probably never be the wiser. But they didn’t! They made the point they are no longer going to label toys or isles as being for boys or girls, effectively choosing gender neutrality. This marketing plan appears to cater to those who, although being only a small fraction of a percentage of the population, are militant, loud and influential and who identify as gender neutral.
What about the other 99+% of the population who still identify as male or female. Have we become merely “chopped liver” in the presence of right side of history activism and politically correct mantras? A full 22% of our population identifies as Catholic. Would Target ever stop selling contraceptives to cater to this less loud or less militantly active group? Of course not!
I received my annual Consumer Reports survey this week. It was interesting to find out they too have blurred their aim when addressing gender and social statuses. At the beginning of the survey I could choose male, female or other. Later on in the survey when asking who drove the 2nd car, I was only offered “significant other” instead of spouse. Really, my wife of 34 years was reduced to nothing more than “other” status.
For the record, I don’t plan to boycott Consumer Reports or Target at this point. The fact is I’m hedging my bets because, in the not too distant future as our entire society goes down this road, our idealism expressed through boycotts will leave us starving and with no place to shop. We must understand these actions are the result of a mental disease which is at near epidemic levels today. I call this disease nothingness. And it produces just that in those infected by it – nothing. Nothing to stand for, nothing to do with religion, nothing to value, nothing to fight for and most importantly nothing in anyway related to a Creator God.
One of my favorite movie lines come from the Patriot when Mel Gibson and his younger sons are going to rescue his oldest son from an unjust arrest and execution. They are hiding behind a log above the road where the soldiers are coming and he ask his sons “what did I teach you about shooting”? His boys reply “aim small, miss small”. The full clip is below and if you would rather not watch the bloody part you should stop at the 2:00 mark.
Aim small, miss small! How profound that line. How effective purposeful targeting like that can be. They were after something valuable. Their father and their lives had prepared them to handle this moment. And because they held their ground, fought hard, took intentional and careful “aim” they succeeded in their goal.
But to look at the US and the world is to watch an increasing percentage of the population headed into the void of nothingness. Male, female doesn’t matter, husband and wife doesn’t matter, religion is seen as harmful and judgmental and to have strong opinions or convictions is viewed as anti-social and hateful. But no matter how hard they try and improve the world by diluting humanity down in gender, social and religious identities they will, in the process, loose everything and be left, in the end, with nothing.
As Christians, we have something to offer. But all too often we make the mistake of cramming instead of offering. I love the quote which is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary”. What we have to offer is in no way neutral or nothingness. It is in fact polarizing, challenging and confrontive. It doesn’t look like Joel Osteen with his I’m ok, you’re ok and everybody’s ok milquetoast “Koolaid”. Nor does it look like hateful Westboro’s, “convert or die” congregants. But somewhere in the middle, guided by the loving and convicting power of the Holy Spirit is the heart of God crying out for holiness, a laying down of one’s life in servanthood and a returning to the rock of our salvation – Jesus, who considered Himself as nothing so we could be, eternally, something.