Counting the Cost

Counting the Cost
            Two weeks ago, a new President was inaugurated in the US.  His beliefs are in line with many others on very crucial points.  One of the biggest ones was the Immigration reform and the stopping of immigrants from Islamic countries of Iran, Iraq, Syrian, and Yemen.  This has been highly contested by many Americans who claim “it is wrong”.  As I thought about it, the one thing that stuck out in my mind was “there is no risk on the part of the protestors and no cost other than for parking”.  You see, there is no risk in pointing a finger at an organization like the Federal Government; all it takes is stick out your pointer finger and lay the blame.
            I see people decrying how unfair it is to keep one segment of people out of the country never understanding why they are kept out.  Celebrities are standing in solidarity against it but, there is no risk in their actions as it is popular, it is divisive, and it doesn’t cost them a dime.  The people protesting with signs, slogans, and divisive words say whatever they want to say, set fire to property, and pick fights with the Police over it – it doesn’t cost them anything except the chance of getting locked up.  Martin Luther King was not a star-studded celebrity nor a wealthy man, he was a preacher who saw what needed to be done and got it done.  In his words “If a man hasn’t discovered something he is willing to die for, he isn’t fit to live” (Martin Luther King).  I wonder what he would have to say about what is passed in the name of Civil Revolt”?
            People will flock to a cause if it is popular and they are called “bandwagon jumpers”.  When the fire is high, they are on the wagon; but, when the fire goes out, they jump as far as they can from the wagon.  During the three-year ministry of Jesus, the whole movement started out with one person than two, three and eventually the 12.  By the midpoint, several thousand walked miles to hear this man speak because he had authority.  Now life was good in the early days as the Sanhedrin steered clear of Jesus but when the tide turned the bandwagon jumpers got off of the wagon and became instigators against Jesus.  Understand this that Jesus words were not always easy to swallow because the words were to the point and they ran awry of the common thought process.  Consider the words “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).  The people must have had the thought “he’s going to put himself on the fire and tell us to eat him and drink his blood and become barbarians; yet, taken superficially without once considering everything else he said and did, the person interpreting the words would come up with the same conclusion.  The people started to jump on the bandwagon and the numbers decreased significantly hence the words “are you going to leave me too” (verse 67).
            There is no cost involved in blaming someone for our failures or that of our family.  It is popular to put a YouTube video out showing Police harassment but, the video doesn’t address what was done preceding the event and there is no cost involved in doing it.  The families who lost someone this year due to violence, my heart goes out to you; but, I wonder just how many went back to review the whole scenario to see what really happened before laying the whole cost at the feet of one person or of an entity?  Today across our great land, people are decrying the Police and would be glad if they ceased to exist but, consider the events of the early years of the Goldrush how lawlessness was rampant and people lost their lives over a single sliver of gold[1].  There is a concept we as a nation must come to grips with and that is “getting what we unintentionally asked for”.  Scripture puts it this way “When any of the Israelites set up an idol in their hearts and put up a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a Prophet, I the Lord will answer them in keeping with their great idolatry” (Ezekial 14:4).  Today, we decry the abuse of power on behalf of one or more political powers as to point the blame at them when it is more about what we asked for in the first place.  This sounds rather crazy and insane but listen, any time we demand something without once considering the ramifications, we are responsible for whatever comes about because of our demand.    Consider the whole situation concerning the illegals how the left is standing up demanding to “let the people in” will be the same ones who will point a finger at the person who championed it as the cause of the whole problem; complicate the problem with the scripture “The purposes of man’s heart are deep waters.” (Proverbs 20:5) and the phrase “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice deceiving” (Sir Walter Scot Mamian), we have the makings of a perfect storm.
            I wonder just how many would protest if they had to pull money from their own pocketbook or had to give their job to pay for what they wanted from the US government?  Consider the Abortion Rights activists who claim that Mr. Trump is going to take away their right to an abortion yet, the truth is: it comes down to who is paying for it.  President Trump wants to stop the Federal Government from paying for the abortions – which is reasonable.  Per a report from Department of Human Services, federal tax dollars cannot be used to pay for abortions anyways – so, a non-issue[2]. The cost of abortion is anywhere between $0 to over $3,725.00 depending on the timing, state laws, and insurance laws[3].  The cost of raising a child is about $245,000 (think about that the next time you feel frisky)[4].
            It is very popular for the people of the USA to stand up and demand their rights and it is constitutional and an integral part of a democratic society; yet, it is not so much what we demand but, how we demand it.  Consider the protests in D.C. during the inauguration as an example.  The Anti-Capitalists did more than $100,000.00 in damage in addition to the Limousine that was torched because “it represents rich and powerful”[5].  The overlooked part of the problem is that the Limo was owned by an Immigrant company and now insurance company may not, all likely hood pay for the damage. Imagine, if you will, destroying something to make a point only to find out that the point you made was “it is time for the change” which is counter-productive to the point made by the protesting organizations. “The World is Watching,” said the Clinton supporters and indeed it was watching the people destroy property, protest what they did not fully understand, and hurt innocent people.
            The greater irony of the protests is that there is at least one agitator whose job is to rile the people up to get them to do what he/she wants to be done in such a way as not to get caught.  In a write up on Economic Trends, the term “Professional Protestors” is mentioned[6].  Now a Professional Protestor can mobilize people under the guise of caring about a cause – whether it be: woman’s rights or anti-capitalism.  In one article, it was mentioned that a Professional Protestor can make around $39,000 per year plus, depending on how well funded the cause is, can make more money in bonuses[7].  There is no risk for the Professional because they are most often not seen.  If they were found out, they could be arrested so, they get young people to do their dirty work and, it is a workable plan.  One would think that if a cause was just and right, that having an agitator would not be necessary; yet, people can be like sheep following the sound of anyone in authority. I watched a Black Lives protest that was blocking a roadway and the agitator stood off to the side while innocent people were standing in harm’s way – what use is that?  Scripture says “remove the mocker and strife ends” (Proverbs 22:10).
The politicians that have stood up and rallied the protestors have done so, I believe, for hidden reasons most likely to remain in power.  I am not so sure that the people listening to the speakers have ever asked “what is in it for you” or “why are you doing this”.  Somehow or another, the last thing that people think about is “why” because our bias will speak louder than reason. There is a cost involved in this no matter how much we are assured that the person cares about the cause the truth is: the speaker will never fully convey why he/she is willing to speak on our behalf.  The speaker is put forth as a leader and a champion so, everyone must follow him.  Charles Manson also came across as a concerned individual and had a following; all his followers shared his passion[8].  history records the events that would follow.
There is an adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.  Meaning, you will never get something for nothing. The word free means “without cost or payment”.  “Free” generates leads and makes the buyer see the product as more valuable than it really is[9].  Consider how many wills chose one item over another because it is listed as “free”.  The problem with free items is that you get bombarded by advertisements, you get the shell but none of the features, and you end up buying the product whether you want to or not.  The riots and rallies of the present time typify this point because, after the rally is over and the real cost is presented, many will choose to abandon it.  There is a cost with everything we do from buying a car to picking out a color of paint and we must pay it or have no share in it.
Accountability for our choices goes hand in hand with counting the cost.  Once we put resources to a choice, we are part of the struggle and must know that we will be held accountable for whatever happens.  In the present time, accountability is taboo because we are all about self-gratification and “Me”.  To be held accountable means “Required or expected to justify actions” (dictionary.com). Today, I am struggling with the diagnosis of Kidney failure which means the coming days of Dialysis and, eventually, a kidney transplant.  The idea that someone is going to cut into my body scares the heck out of me and I want to avoid it.  Well, to avoid it means changing my diet which, is never easy for me.  The problem is, that there is a point in which it is too late.  Being accountable means accepting whatever consequences that may come because of our choices; for me, the choices of poor diet and little or no exercise led to my current condition.  There will always be outside influences and we are not held accountable for them; but, how we react to them and what we do to help or hinder ourselves we will be held accountable for.
In life, we are told things like “eat more vegetables”, “cut down on alcohol”, “quit smoking”, and “walk more often”.  Being told these things runs against the grain because it means we need to change but we have our choices and we are not about to alter our choices.  Choosing not to accept either of the choices does not make the suggestions good or bad it just means we chose to ignore them.  God gave each man and woman the power of “choice”.  Mankind loves the power of choice because, it means “I have the freedom” but, the part that was missed in the translation was “You can choose to do whatever you want but, beware that your choice means something will happen thus and you must accept that too”.   For King Solomon, he had the power of choice to rear his kingdom in any way he chose but, the result would always play out in the people of his kingdom.
Today, we as a nation are suffering a great warfare over choices and consequences.  The abuses of programs like welfare, Medicare, immigration, and food stamps has led to predictable results.  Some elected officials have incited riots over the idea that “_____ is the cause of all of our troubles and it is not constitutional”.  Everybody has a bias blind spot said a research study[10].  The people who listen to the speaker and choose not to think for themselves or filter the information through their thought process become part of the problem.  Wealth and fame speak loudly and people listen to it; the problem is, all of it could be and most likely is a smoke screen.  In an article from TTNG weekly, the writer speaks to my point about thinking for yourself as a cost counting method; it seems, that the influential people are admired to the point of wanting to be just like that person not understanding all that lies in the background of the influential person’s life like drugs, wealth gained by fraudulent means, and improper business practices[11].
Life is full of tough choices that often require drastic actions which tend not to be pleasant nor appeasing; yet, the admonition to the seven churches of Asia Minor “to him who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelations 3:21-22).  I have full confidence in my nation to pull together despite all that we a nation are enduring.  May your day be filled with all the best God has in mind for you.
Mike


[1] History.com Staff. The Goldrush of 1849. Retrieved http://www.history.com/topics/gold-rush-of-1849
[2] Robertson, L. Planned Parenthood. Retrieved http://www.factcheck.org/2011/04/planned-parenthood/
[3] Fisher, T. How Much Does an Abortion Cost Well, Anywhere Between $0 and $3000.00? Retrieved https://clearhealthcosts.com/blog/2014/06/much-abortion-cost-draft-theresas/
[4]CNN Staff writer. How Much Will It Cost to Raise Your Child? Retrieved http://money.cnn.com/interactive/pf/cost-of-children/
[5] Associated Press Staff. Owner of Limo Torched During Inauguration Insurance Unlikely to Pay. Retrieved http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/24/owner-limo-torched-in-dc-during-inauguration-day-protest-says-insurance-unlikely-to-pay.html
[6] Mish. MishTalk: Mish’s Economic Trend Analysis. Retrieved https://mishtalk.com/2016/11/12/anti-trump-riots-in-14-cities/ (11/12/2016).
[7] New Hampshire Review Staff. Socialist Paid Protestors Behind Anti-Trump Rallies. Retrieved http://newhampshirereview.com/news/socialist-alternative-paid-protesters-president-trump/ (11/11/2016).
[8] Bio Staff. Charles Manson Biography. Retrieved http://www.biography.com/people/charles-manson-9397912#synopsis
[9] Pantankar, V. Use the Psychology of Free Stuff to Generate Leads. Retrieved https://smallbiztrends.com/2015/09/the-psychology-of-free-stuff.html (9/2015).
[10] Rea, S. Researchers have Found Everyone has a Bias Blindspot. Retrieved https://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2015/june/bias-blind-spot.html (6/8/2015).
[11] TTNG Staff. Your Character Part I. Retrieved https://ttngweekly.com/tag/power/

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