There was a collision downtown the other night, a stylish new model smashing through walls that have stood for centuries. And curiously, many who witnessed the event are blaming the walls.
But it’s been that way in our little town. Change is in the air. The buildings look much as they did 100 years ago, a seeming tribute to the art and integrity of generations who came before, but it is no tribute. We live in their houses and do business in their shops, but the people who built this town would not be welcome here.
The collision made this clear all over again. There was a school board meeting downtown, a tense conversation, a new idea smashing into an old wall. Of course, it’s hard to root for a wall, and almost no one did. The new idea, that pornography has a place in school libraries, easily won the day.
It’s been that way in our little town, and it’s not just sex. The same drugs that police fought to keep off our streets are now the biggest business on our streets, with more than a dozen licensed dealers and billboards advertising our product across the state. Just another old wall, toppling into dust.
It’s hard to root for a wall, especially an ancient wall built by strange people, even if those strange people were our grandparents. We honor them, of course, but there must have been some mistake, some flaw that prevented them from seeing what we see. So, we cheerfully knock down their walls, proving we know more than they did.
Or, possibly, that we know less.
The danger of our situation is demonstrated by our impulsive answers to big questions. No one can tell you why marijuana is suddenly good for you. No one can tell you why pornography is suddenly good for children. No one can tell you why there is suddenly no difference between a girl and a boy. No one can tell you, and it’s dangerous to ask.
These are not new questions, only new answers. Very different answers than those given by the strong and intelligent people who came before us, people who won desperate wars and endured crushing hardships and built the towns we inhabit. What makes us so sure that our answers are better than theirs?
We smash through the walls they built to protect their children and culture. We belittle their faith in a kind and reasonable Creator, suddenly convinced that intricate and elegant worlds arise by luck.
We assume that we have learned something new about the world, but we have only forgotten something old. And now we must learn it all over again, as our children pay the price.