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Monday, March 16, 2015

Doing nothing

We’ll keep getting what we’re getting

The Bible teaches us that a “sin of omission” is a failure to do something one can, and ought to do. James 4:17 reads, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

And yet, as a nation, we seem to be increasingly agnostic, or apathetic, about doing what is “right” for fear of being considered politically incorrect, or otherwise offending another. It’s one of the reasons that, since 1964, voter turnout continues to decline. In fact, only 36 percent of voters, across the country, cared enough to cast ballots in last November’s elections.

But if you are not particularly religious, perhaps you would appreciate the clarion call to action by Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Or perhaps you might consider the wisdom in knowing that “(t)he only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Regardless, doing nothing is not option for any of us, especially considering the crossroads we find ourselves, and it is our obligation to work for what we believe in, insofar as it is God who gave us life and the liberty to do so. The liberty to care. To love. To pray. To listen.

By doing nothing, we can lose everything – including our country.

You only need to think of a friendship you have, or a relationship with a family member, to see what I mean. We can lose that friendship, or family relationship – all by doing nothing. And if you never visited your friend, returned their calls or emails – you will indeed lose the friendship – all by doing nothing.

For example, we know that more than half of Caddo Parish schools, and one-third of Bossier Parish schools, saw their performance scores drop last year, yet we do nothing to significantly address the crisis of parenting in our community. We know from research studies that parents, who check homework, attend school meetings and events, and discuss school activities at home, have a more powerful influence on students’ academic performance than anything about the school the students attend. Yet we do nothing.

We know that in 1960, just before the expansion of welfare programs in 1965, only 22 percent of black children grew up in single-parent households. Yet, over 50 years later, that percentage is now nearly 80 percent, effectively breaking apart the black family, which is something that centuries of slavery never could achieve. Yet, we do nothing to change those programs.

We know that the Census Bureau reports 14.5 percent of Americans are poor, and this is essentially the same rate as it was in 1966, shortly after the “war on poverty” was launched. And even though we have spent $22 trillion intending to help the poor, and despite spending 16 times more today to provide cash, food, housing and medical care to the poor, it’s just not helping enough. And, yet, we do nothing, but continue to elect those who perpetuate those programs.

We know that, since 1967, 54 million babies have been aborted in America and that more abortions are performed in Shreveport-Bossier City than anywhere else in our state. Yet, we do nothing. In fact, 52 percent of voters in Caddo Parish still voted for Mary Landrieu last November (and she voted against the pro-life position almost every opportunity she had in the U.S. Senate).

We know that Louisiana has more people in prison per capita (1 in 75) than anywhere else in the world – twice the national average. Yet we do nothing to reject those in our culture who encourage hopelessness, or diminish personal accountability, or minimize the respect for life (including one’s own).

And “doing nothing” means this:

We take the attitude of, “to each his own.” We look the other way on the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. We remain silent on supporting the institution of marriage. It means that we allow parents to leave the parenting up to the school system, and we elect candidates that are more interested in their welfare than in ours. It means we support one political party (or another) that cares a bunch, but doesn’t help at all. It means we accept a watereddown, blurred-line between what’s right and what’s not. It means we compromise our values more often because of what’s convenient for us, than aspiring to what’s best.

The bottom line is this: We can no longer afford to just “know” the right thing to do, but fail to do it.

After all, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we’re getting, and the worst part is the only explanation we’ll have for our children is we did nothing, to get it.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by email at louisavallone@mac.com.


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