Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rebuilding after the Damage

Helping the neighbors after Hurricane Ike.
I told Mr. Spherical Model he ought to let younger, shorter
guys with better knees do this job.
Here in Houston we have the occasional life-altering disaster: hurricanes, floods, tornadoes. In our seventeen years here we’ve seen all of these, but so far have remained fairly safe. During Hurricane Ike, in 2008, we lost power for eight days, had to repair a ceiling and reroof the house. That was pretty minor. We had neighbors, at the end of the cul-de-sac, who got hit harder and had some major rebuilding to do. We, along with people from church, helped cover the holes in their roofs with tarps. And we shared a generator with the neighbors on either side. We kept busy; there was plenty to do.

I recently came across an article, “From the Ruins:Rebuilding Civilization,” by Anthony Esolen, which talks about rebuilding after disaster—and compares that to the rebuilding needed in today’s culture. Here is the paragraph that caught my attention:
Some of the young men from church
helping rebuild our neighbor's fence
after Hurricane Ike

What shall we do now? The answer is both daunting and liberating. We do everything. That doesn’t mean that I do everything, or that you do everything. Suppose you find yourself in a bombed out city. There are all kinds of things to do, and all of them have to be done. Some needs are more pressing than others, and some things can be done only after other things are in order. But everywhere you turn, there’s work to do. You have to find clean water. You have to find food. You have to tend to the wounded and bury the dead. You have to erect shelters. You have to see which of the few buildings left standing are actually safe. You have to demolish those that are ruined beyond repair. You have to organize work teams. Someone has to prepare the meals. Someone has to keep the children out of trouble. In such a situation, it’s almost absurd to ask whether it’s more important to build a latrine than to gather together some undamaged books. All of it has to be done. So you do what you can do—the work that is ready to your hand.
While I’m more familiar with natural disaster, the bombed-out city is maybe more apt, since the chaos of societal ruin that we face is man-caused.

Esolen suggests a list of things to do—in no particular order. Some require reading more than the enumerated item to understand what he means. But, take your pick of what you want to take on:

·         Build new schools, reform old schools, and abandon irreformable ones.
·         Restore your parish church and bring reverence back to the liturgy.
·         Acquaint yourself with the proper use of the zipper [i.e., remain sexually chaste, regardless of what others do].
·         Be social.
·         Read good books.
·         Recover the human things.
·         Pray like the pilgrim you are.
·         Whatever you do, do it as if everything depends on just that.
·         Begin.

I won’t quibble with any of his suggestions. But, since we look at what is Civilization, here at the Spherical Model, I thought I might add to his list.

Civilization requires certain things: a religious people, who value God, family, life, property rights, and truth. So, here are a few tasks to take on, under those headings or combinations thereof.

·         Pray. Read scriptures. Go to church. Take your children. Pray and read scriptures with your children.
·         Love your spouse, and together love your children. Don’t consider divorce—except under the most severe causes—abuse, adultery, abandonment, or unwilling-to-treat addiction. Let your children know that working things out with those you love is the normal way to live. It’s the civilized way.

·         Stand up for your God-given inalienable right to freedom of religion. Respect others and their beliefs while standing absolutely strong in your own.

·         Live a chaste life: no sex outside of marriage, and absolute fidelity within marriage. You can understand someone with same-sex attraction, but you do not condone—not any more than you understand someone attracted to a married person, but you would not condone adultery.

·         Take responsibility for the education and upbringing of your own children. It’s not up to the schools, or the Sunday School or youth program leadership; it’s up to you. Use those resources if they’re helpful. If they’re not, find something better, or do something better for them yourself.

·         Share uplifting communications in social media, and in all your conversations. Stand strong and firm, and ever respectful, but avoid contention.

·         Volunteer in the community. Lend your help to sports teams for children, charities that match your values, that are working toward goals you admire. Work with people who have challenges you don’t have—it helps you understand and relate, and learn how to truly help.

·         Give to charity. Tithe plus offerings. Give where what you give can do the most good for what you care about.

·         Educate yourself, and share what you learn. Education isn’t just about learning the knowledge and skills for a career (although that’s important too); it’s a beautiful way of living, always. There have never been more ways of learning at little or no cost than there are today.

·         Weed out the things in your life that don’t uplift: the entertainments, the music, the media. Fill those spaces with lasting things of value—better music, better books, better movies, better entertainments.

·         Participate civically. Vote—and be a prepared, educated voter. Participate in grassroots forums: parties, clubs, groups, town halls. Find other like-minded people in the community and join with them in doing good. Influence groups to be better. Contact school boards and elected officials at all levels; let them know what you believe and what you expect from them. Support good candidates, and then keep in contact and keep them accountable.

·         Read the founding documents, and a good variety of history. Understand the beliefs that led to our Constitution. If you’re fuzzy on how defend the basic ideas, study up. I suggest the nearly unlimited short videos at Prager University online, and the free online courses provided by Hillsdale College—start with their Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution.

·         Avoid cynicism. Being smugly right about negative things doesn’t help rebuild anything. Yes, things are dire. But assuming everyone is untrustworthy is just hopeless and discouraging. Find the good, and build on that.

There’s more to do. There will always be more to do. Get yourself anxiously engaged in a good cause, or two, or ten.

Start with yourself. Spread the good to your family. Then connect with other families and individuals with the same goals. Strengthen one another. We’re in a mess here in this world, including in this country. There’s plenty to do. Just do what you can. And pray that there will be enough others that our combined efforts will be enough.


  1. Glad you're reading and finding it valuable, John.


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