Good Friday morning ...

I can't help but ask: When did we become such a nation of whiners? What ever happened to the virtue of circumspectness? At what point did we lose our respect for cautious conversation? How did we get to be so indiscreet?

We live in such a Jerry Springer world ... where everyone wants to go public with their problems, their ideas, their issues ... without regard for the feelings of others. Everyone has a beef and they want to get it out there so everyone else can see it, hear it, and join in on the same beef.

On college campuses today, students have whined about what they call "micro-aggressions." Those suffering from these "micro-aggressions" are offended by tiny acts that might, in some slight way, point to politically incorrect behavior. The offended student then feels free to demand changes from college administrations in what we might call a "macro-aggressive" way. Such an attitude is an example of what has turned the country into a nation of whiners.

To understand the problem of how society has come to this point, a well-known philosopher wrote a commentary some time ago that describes five things that lead people to become hypersensitive. The list is very helpful to see where society has gone wrong and where it needs to go to right itself. Here are the five things in condensed form:

1. Treat your children as equals and fear them.  This refers to parents who not only pamper their children but also put themselves in a position of equality with their children. It creates a situation where parents fear doing anything that might offend their children who then become overly sensitive about being refused anything. Sound familiar? It might even hit a bit close to home.

2. Teachers flatter their pupils. Like the pampered son or daughter, the pupil is helped along and praised for every effort lest the child feel overshadowed by the better students or made to feel the shame of failure. In this sense, there are no winners in games or honor roll recognition for students who excel. The pupil's tender sensibilities must be safeguarded. Thus, they are made even more sensitive. Again, sound familiar?

3. Elders and youth dress and act like each other. This happens when we allow the young to act like grownups and compete with them while older people condescend to youthful activities in order to avoid the appearance of being old, sour or inflexible. This is getting dicey, isn't it?

4. Make laws to equalize everything.  Such laws reward the indolent or lazy and penalize those who strive to excel and get ahead. Examples might be lowering standards for entrance into colleges or universities or for employment opportunities. Another might be punitive taxation of certain people or repositioning assets of the wealthy to the underprivileged.

5. Equalize all differences between men and women.  This can be seen in the sexual revolution of past generations, the consideration that all promiscuous relationships are equal to those of marriage and family and the defending all lifestyles as acceptable.

By these five things so many have become part of a nation of whiners who cannot bear the burden of contradiction from those around them. To those who whine, freedom consists only in the absence of opposition to whatever one wants to do. And when opposition appears, it must be exterminated or silenced. The primary target seems to be the restraining influence of Christian morality which is seen by many as a strong authority similar to slavery.

It may be a surprise to most that these five things that lead to hypersensitivity are quite old, ancient even. In fact, it is widely known that the school of human behavior changes little, if at all, over the ages. The ancient observer who wrote of these five things shares a wisdom that is valid for all times and places. His name is Plato (a Greek philosopher who lived within the approximate dates of 428 - 347BC) and this particular list of five things that lead to hypersensitivity can be found in his famous work, The Republic.

Little do people realize that they are the least free of men when they are tyrannized and controlled by their shifting passions and appetites. A society of whiners is hardly free when personal restraint is not exercised. Such a society where personal restraint and accountability is weak would require more exterior restraint to avoid chaos and maintain order.

On occasion my mother (the only philosopher I knew personally) would say to me: "Richard, I have a bone to pick with you!" It was her way of saying, "We have to talk. There is something bothering me." She had an issue with something I said, something I did or maybe something I didn't do. It was an invitation to sit down and work it out ... together ... just the two of us. It wasn't thrown out for the entire family of nine to know about. It wasn't a matter for dinner conversation in the presence of everyone at the table. It was a private matter that would be dealt with and rectified between the two of us. The "bone" would be picked and that would be it ... matter resolved.

Oh, that we could practice that method more today! Instead, we post a declaration or statement on one form of social media or the other and thus set a bee to buzzing in somebody’s bonnet.

What are you doing to curtail whining in your circle of friends and family? We can all do something ... or, I guess, we could just whine about the whiners. But what good does that do?

"You, therefore, have no excuse,  you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.   Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So, when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?  Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.  God 'will repay each person according to what they have done.'  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.  But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil:  first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;  but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.   For God does not show favoritism." [Romans 2:1-11]

Have a blessed weekend ... cautious about what you say and refraining from whining ...