Thursday, August 8, 2019

Understanding power deficits

Power is fundamentally about controlling, changing, or disrupting a situation.

A power deficit is formed when one's ability to see a situation is greater than his ability to participate in, change or control a situation. Images can amplify a person's sense of being able to see a situation and a person's desire to be able to participate in, change or control the situation. These situations are frustrating and can form self-defeating feedback loops. Extreme power deficits can lead to a sense of powerlessness and isolation.

A positive response to a perceived power deficit is to make friends, talk about things, and figure out a plan. Evaluate the value and validity of the desire, figure out a direct path toward the desire, and if that is not possible or ideal, find an alternate route. Either the desire remains no matter the angle at which one views it, or the desire may change.

A negative response to a perceived power deficit, and unsuccessful attempts to overcome it, is to inflict a power deficit on others. If he can't be happy and get what he wants, then no one else can either. If he must feel powerless, others must feel powerless, too. The objective turns destructive, and external tools—sources of power to overcome the perceived power deficit—are sought.

Firearms provide a significant source of external power because firepower can effectively change, control, or disrupt many situations. These tools can be used in both good ways and bad ways, but there is no mistaking their inherent nature as a source of power. This is true at both personal and cultural/national levels. Mao Zedong taught, “Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’” The Second Amendment was ratified to protect the people's God-given right “to keep and bear arms” so they could sufficiently answer the power of the British or any other oppressor.

mass shooting is an extreme use of firepower as a negative response to a power deficit. These intentionally planned and calculated actions are evil, and no excuses—like mental illness—should be made for them.

When it comes to school mass shootings in particular, Journalist Carolyn Moynihan has noted, “almost all school shooters come from families where the parents are either divorced or alienated.”

Of divorce, Jesus said, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18). Of the context for this statement, a friend of mine once observed this was a “really strange place” for that statement to appear. It comes right after Jesus commenting, “it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail” (16:17).

What if this is not a strange place for the statement about divorce? For heaven and earth to pass away, natural law would have to be altered or abolished. What if, then, God views divorce in this light—that the marriage covenant is and should be as fixed as the laws of nature? If that's the case, then no wonder God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16).

In our context, the full text of that statement is instructive: “‘The LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously’” (Malachi 2:16).

Let's think about divorce from the child's perspective. With God's law written on his heart, the child inherently knows divorce is wrong. For children old enough to be aware of what's happening, many blame themselves for their parents divorce.

In some cases children can inadvertently precipitate divorce, not because of anything that they did, but as part of their parents reaping what they sowed earlier. I once knew a couple with each spouse of majorly different theological beliefs—what the Word of God calls being “unequally yoked.” One spouse was Jewish and the other Muslim. They seemed to get along fine, even after they had a couple kids. Then, as the boys began to communicate, questions of how to raise those children came up, and this exposed a rift in their marriage. Sadly, the marriage did not last long, and now those children are powerless against something as unnatural as trying to violate the natural laws that keep heaven and earth from passing away.

The sacredness of the marriage relationship runs deeper than we can possibly imagine. The joining of man and wife, is a symbol of the eternal relationship between “Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).

Another possible response to a power deficit is political power. It is right and good for the government to punish evil; that's one of it's primary purposes. Just to be clear, mass shootings are already illegal.

Some are not satisfied since even with it being illegal, it still happens, and we feel powerless against it. If you can’t stop the shooter, the argument goes, take away what they use to do the shooting. If there were no other uses for guns, no need for self-defense, and no other risk to the removal of guns from society, they might have a point. However, there are other uses, guns save lives, too, and as we can see from the oppression of abortion and encroachment on religious liberty, there is definitely greater risk to society in removing constitutionally-owned weapons than in retaining them.

There is no one thing that would turn around this problem overnight. We are reaping what has been sown over a long period of time. Nonetheless, there are several “small” things we each can do that would help address this problem.

Turn to the all-powerful God
• “If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:6-8). We need to take our confusion to Him and seek His purposes for us in this time. “Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).
• “For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:10). “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Stop creating power deficits
Turn off images. Our society is image-saturated right now, and it's to the point that we are continually ascribing worth to a mirage of value (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 5:8).
Preserve family. Love your wife. Fight for your marriage. Fight for others' marriages. Help bring healing to broken marriages. Open your home to kids from broken homes. Seek people out who need a friend. Love one another. Love your neighbor. Be a peacemaker.

Be ready for power deficit backlash
• Yes, sometimes extreme use of firepower needs a commensurate response. No, we don't want a police state with police everywhere. Removing or prohibiting guns would only increase the power deficit. Self-defense is not just a right, but a duty.

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