Too Big to Fail

I have heard a lot of talk lately about companies and institutions of government being “too big to fail.” I am not even certain that I understand what this means, but I hear it applied to banks, to automobile companies, to mortgage companies, to financial networks, to Wall Street, and public entitlements, to countries, and now the talk is regarding entire continents. Our best response has been to throw seemingly infinite amounts of worthless banknotes at the situation in vain hopes that such valueless paper would douse the already blazing inferno.

Now I am not a trained economist, politician, nor astute philosopher, but from the top of my fencepost it seems as though nothing previously thought “too big to fail” has been, and that tsunami of doom seems to be heading toward the “too big to fail” continent of North America, particularly the United States of America. The reality of our nation, the leader in the free world, the leader of the entire world actually “failing” is horrifying and we should all be sobered out of our socks. Yet, there seems to be a complacency that “everything” will be all right, that “They will do something to work it all out.” Well, I am not sure who “They” might be but I am not in the optimistic camp that wholesale embraces every action of our leaders. In fact I think, at the heart of our issue lies an arrogance that believes something in and of ourselves is unable to fail, not because of any rooted merit, but just because we are the United States.

Don’t get me wrong. I am as patriotic as the next guy. I want to live in the greatest nation on earth. I enjoy my warm shower and my daily cup of coffee. I enjoy the freedom to engage in the worship of my choice. I enjoy the opportunity for education and the benefits that come from a capitalistic environment that allows me to achieve according to my aspirations. But I also can see the yellow flags of history.

I am sure the Sumarian Empire was bolstered at the expanse of their power. That the Assyrian empire never questioned the fallibility of their might. That Babylon hardly gave any thought to their weakness. That Egypt never believed that they would be anything less than the mighty center of the world. That Alexander the Great and Greece thought they would long endure. That the Roman Empire would rule for millennia. That the Viking Empire…The Dutch Empire…The British Empire would long reign over the face of the earth, yet each fell…and that leads us back to a guy sitting on a fencepost in Bishop, California in the most powerful country perhaps ever.

When we think of the greatness those empires held or achieved, we mark it up to military prowess, or perhaps economic shrewdness, and well that may in part be, but is that all? Long ago this nation, like it or not, agree with it or not, was established upon the precepts of the Bible. Yet, do we acknowledge God’s hand in the blessing we have enjoyed? No, I fear not. In the spirit of independence and ingenuity, we ourselves have taken all the credit for our many achievements and the favor we have enjoyed, as though we have merited it in some mystical way.

As we ponder why all of these “too big to fail” entities are failing, we desperately seek answers. Perhaps if we just print more money, that will solve the problem. Perhaps if we pass a billion more laws, acts, treaties, and alliances. Perhaps if we just debate the issue ad nausium, we will arrive at political and economic nirvana. If we just had more people involved in the process… Let me suggest those are not the answer, and again, this is just me sittin’ on top of a fencepost in the middle of Bishop, but the answer to the problem is not a problem rooted in the economic realm. It is not solvable in the political arena, and it is not one to be solved in the ethereal sphere of hope. No, the foundation to our problem is spiritual. We are engaged in a great war against the Creator of the universe. Our issue is sin. Our dilemma is woven throughout our DNA and is the greatest barrier to mankind en masse emerging, albeit temporarily from the quagmire of disaster.

“Wow, Kelly! You’re a bummer. I wouldn’t let you be in my multi-level marketing plan ever. No pompoms for you either!”

That may be wise on your part to do, but look at it. Let’s take a hard look at the leadership of our nations. Look at the leadership of our nation. Why is it so difficult for us to find even an adequate representative for president? For Congress? Is it just me, or is something missing? Two elements I would think are important for every individual are competence and character. Yet, they seem to be in short supply, and seldom fused together in one individual, and I am talking on both sides of the aisle. Out of 300 million people, it would seem we could find someone who embodies both traits.

Again, the problem is embedded in sin, in our predisposition to serve ourselves, to line our own pockets, to point the bony finger of blame at someone other than ourselves, to accept no responsibility for any errant decisions. To arrogantly assert that we are too big to fail. That my fellow Americans and fellow fence-post sitters is just not the case; we are guilty and arrogant, we are able to fail. Am I anti-government? Certainly not; it is a God-given institution. But unless we incorporate the elements of character, God-given character into our moral fibers once again, they merely remain sterile words on a gymnasium wall or in a letterhead.

Is this a critical letter? Perhaps. In fact, as I think about it, it very much so is, yet the bane of this letter is not held in the identification of such poor behavior and character, but in the behavior and poor character itself. Am I any better than those whom I identify? Absolutely not, I throw myself into the mix as well. Sin courses through my being constantly atop this fencepost, but I am trying to work on it.

Make no mistake about it, a tsunami is headed our way and we have no one to blame but ourselves. We have turned our backs on God. We have evicted Him from the governmental bodies, we have cast Him out of public schools, we have filled Sundays, the Lord’s Day with every conceivable form of distraction we can imagine. We are even ashamed to talk about Him in the public square as though He was an embarrassing black sheep of the family.  How dare we?

Can we stave off the impending doom? I do not know. Is there hope? As my Viking relatives say, “You Betcha!” But it’s not in the printing of more and more notes of currency. We need to stop those printing presses. On second thought, keep ‘em going, but let’s print more Bibles. No, that’s not the solution either. We have plenty of Bibles here in America, they’re just stuck on the top bookshelves gathering dust, or in a dresser somewhere. Our solution though is held in the vault of those Bibles. We need to open them and absorb them.

We need to stop invoking the corporate mantra of “God Bless America” as though He were some sort of divine vending machine. How about if we were to turn that slogan on its ear and say, “America, Bless God!”? What would that look like? What would be the result? I know it would start by looking at His message to us, in His Word, and honoring that. It’s clear to see nothing else is working any better. Haven’t we exhausted all other measures?

Psalm 91:14-15 affirms, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.  He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”

 Again folks, I am just sittin’ on my fencepost in Bishop. But hey! Whoever said you couldn’t see clearly from atop a fencepost?