The Battle for Human Decency Moral Outrage and the Politics of Chaos

Tearing apart families at the border has touched a raw nerve in the American psyche, finally. We have protested somewhat when cops shot young black men. We have responded with increasing acceptance as our children are murdered in their schools. We have done nothing as millions of our fellow Americans suffer infrastructure collapse in Puerto Rico. Each of these crises alone should have forced us into the streets to demand what human decency requires. But then the moment passes, and America continues its slow but increasing decline into incivility. The same decline may be happening world wide, but this is our country, our problem.

Perhaps we have reached a tipping point, a point on the scale of moral outrage where the inherent goodness of our common humanity finally cries out: No more! We have reached the limit. The sound of children crying out for their moms and dads reaches so far down into our soul that we are incapable of ignoring the threat to our very humanity.

The mass migration of 65 million persons across the globe calls us all to think anew about what this life is all about. Is it a zero sum game wherein your gain is my loss? or is it not the case that your happiness feeds my happiness and your wholeness helps make me whole? How can anyone be content while others suffer? How can anyone not be shaken by the sound of children crying? The crisis of migration presents an opportunity, not a problem, an opportunity to ask anew: Who are we? who am I? what must we do?

History is filled with such opportunity, some lost, some used. The devastation of our Civil War accompanied by the abolition of slavery was used by some for good, by others for evil. The Marshall Plan for the re-building of Europe after the Second World War showed what can be done when forward looking persons realize that the health of the other is my health as well.

Change can be constructive, chaos cannot. In the tearing apart of families, moral outrage has confronted the politics of chaos, and we desperately require communication and community, not chaos and confusion. May this be our moment.

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