In 2017 the Augusta School District located in Augusta, Maine threatened disciplinary action or dismissal to a special education teacher, Toni Richardson. Toni is an excellent teacher with a brilliant record. The problem occurred when she told a co-worker during a private conversation that she would pray for him in response to a church prayer request. The school said that was impermissible, even among co-workers that attend the same church.
Can you believe that? In the school, you can’t even offer to pray for a member of your church. When some lawyers stepped in to defend Toni, the school changed its position and now say that such speech is permissible as long as students don’t over hear it.
What if nobody stood behind Toni and challenged the establishment? What if everyone stood silently by and simply talked about how bad the situation was? Dr. Albert Einstein is quoted in the Dallas Holocaust Museum, “The world is too dangerous to live in – not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen.”
Theodore Roosevelt said, “In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing is the wrong thing; and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” The great statesman, Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” It’s easy for evil to take over by default.
One of the great heroes of the last century was Patriot/Pastor Martin Niemoeller. He lived at a time when Hitler was overrunning Germany and making a total mindset change in pre World War II Germany. Niemoeller wrote, “In Germany they came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionist, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
A few years ago, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan described the decaying situation in our country and our response to it as “defining deviancy downward.” We are adjusting to escalating levels of deviant behavior by redefining them as normal. The slow erosion of long standing ethical values is being defended today by many as “normal progression.”
Moynihan says that this process of normalizing deviant behavior “can diminish the human condition to the level of combat infantryman, who in protracted campaigns, can eat their battlefield rations seated on the bodies of the fallen – friend and foe alike. A society that loses its sense of outrage is doomed to extinction.”
It’s time to act! James confronted a situation of his day with these words, “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17) It is never the wrong time to do the right thing!
The opportunity to act today is for all ages to participate. Older people have knowledge and experience and time. Middle age people have values to teach and families to influence. The young may lead us all. One of the advantages of youth is…you don’t let common sense get in the way of doing things that everybody else thinks are impossible!
Paul pleaded with the people of Rome, “Keep with eyes wide open to the mercies of God. I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship… Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Will you be world-molded or God-remolded?