Soapbox Philosophy: At the heart of all the problems: Us
by Gregory R. Norfleet · Op-Ed · February 08, 2013

While interviewing Troy Thompson about his son, Jordan, going to Afghanistan, my stomach did a twist when Troy told me what Jordan would be doing for the National Guard:
Diffusing improvised explosive devices.

Homemade bombs. Itís the Hurt Locker, in real life.

I donít know Jordan very well. Iíve interviewed him a few times, like after football games when he was the lead running back and co-captain of the 2008 team. But to know him just that much and know he is going into what is probably, even by military standards, one of the most dangerous jobs, unnerves me. I canít imagine what his family must be thinking. We certainly need to pray for his safety, as well as the safety of all our men and women in the military.

No doubt Jordan will be well-trained before he approaches his first IED, but I imagine he will likely be thinking daily of the same truth philosophers and theologians throughout the world have discussed for thousands of years: Thereís something wrong with this world.

The plastic explosives used in many IEDs were originally invented by engineers looking for explosive material which could be molded into specific shapes for strategic placement in building demolition. That brings us to a second truth: Everything bad once came from something good.

Boys Basketball Head Coach Stephen Bender the week before last was involved in a head-on crash in the fog north of Wellman. Bender thinks the other driver, by the way their car coasted over the line into his lane, may have been talking on a cell phone.

Why do we talk and drive? All kinds of reasons. If it were me, it would likely be trying to get something done during a monotonous trip. Good intentions, but bad timing. What is wrong with this world?

Cars are wonderful things. Cell phones are wonderful things. But, both have to be used wisely. We all know that.

But sometimes we can be tempted and we donít fight very hard.

As part of his Sunday sermon, Pastor Brooks Simpson gave a piece of paper and a broken pencil to a teenager named Austin, asking him to write down, in 10 seconds, what is wrong with the world and how to fix it. The teenager said he could not.

ďNo lead,Ē Austin reasoned.

Pastor Brooks took the pencil from him, and jokingly declared there was nothing wrong with it because pencils can be used for, say, cleaning out your ears. He got a chuckle from the parishioners. Both he and Austin were correct, but Austin held the advantage with his argument because he ascertained the original PURPOSE of the pencil.

ďFiguring out whatís wrong requires knowing what SHOULD BE,Ē Pastor Brooks said.

In response to The Times newspaper asking authors to answer the question: Whatís wrong with the world?Ē G.K. Chesterton famously wrote ďDear Sirs, I am.Ē

Itís not the plastic explosives, the cars, or the cell phones.

Itís not the guns, alcohol, drugs, betting parlors, Hollywood, Washington or Des Moines.

Itís not flip stop signs at Main and Oliphant, or permanent stop signs. Itís not sidewalks to Hoover Elementary or the lack thereof.

Itís us.

Itís the people who make laws and the people who are under those laws, the people who run businesses and those who shop there, the people who love their jobs and the people who hate what they do.

None of us are perfect, and we need to keep that in mind in every debate, discussion or controversy.

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