Bus monitors, bullies, authority, and money...

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Yesterday I was reminded of just how rich Americans are. Our conception of money is like that of a Roman general returning to Rome after sacking and pillaging enemy countries. We throw it down on those less fortunate than us in an attempt to make them like us. Or maybe it's an attempt to make us like us. 

By now you've probably already read about the 67 year-old bus monitor who was being harassed by Jr-high students while they video-taped their exploits. When you're in Jr-high it's easy to make fun of people who are old and fat. It's entertaining, too--and not just for 7th graders. Millions of people around the world have been entertained by the video. However, apparently it's one of those guilty pleasures, where you watch and laugh and then say, "Shame on you!" while you hide your smile.

Somebody came up with the bright idea of trying to raise $5000 dollars to send this poor bullied woman on a world-class vacation, and now, with the amount raised in excess of...

$600,000 dollars it looks like the vacation might actually be permanent. I'm happy for her, and yes, I'm jealous too.

Now this might shock you, but I will also add that if she doesn't retire she should be fired, since she is clearly incapable of doing her job. She was a bus monitor. Her job was to prevent bullying, but here she was being bullied instead. And failing at her first responsibility, she then proceeded to fail at her second, by refusing to report this incident to the school officials who might actually discipline the bullies. If this is what they were doing to her, can you imagine what they were doing to each other? By refusing to act, she was fostering an abusive and dangerous environment for every single person on that bus. 

Bullying has become a hot topic recently. Is it getting worse? Of course it is! We refuse to allow teachers and school officials to discipline their students. When there is no fear of authority, wickedness flourishes. Yesterday I heard about a teacher who lined up all the students who had been bullied by their classmate, and had them slap him in the face, one by one as they walked by him. Why did she do this? Was she out of her mind? Is she a psychopath? No. It's because her own hands were tied behind her back. It was an act of desperation.

To be fair, maybe the bus monitor had her hands tied, too. I've been in circumstances where my superiors refused to enforce the discipline that I meted out. Maybe she had already tried reporting this terrible behavior to the school and realized that it was pointless. At some point it does feel like all you can do is either go ballistic or cry. I went balistic. She cried. To each his own.

But why are we giving her over $600,000? It's because we feel guilty. Yesterday I commented to my wife that it's people who were bullies in elementary school who are giving her money, but actually I think it's more than that. We feel guilty as a nation about the problem of bullying. We feel guilty that our refusal to discipline has led to this sort of behavior being tolerated. We feel guilty that we laughed at the video. We feel guilty about all kinds of things. And we want to feel better about ourselves, so we throw money down at those less fortunate than us. But it never really helps.

You never know what Americans will throw their money at in a attempt to feel better about themselves. Stop Kony? Sure. Tom's shoes? Yep. A neighborhood project? Absolutely.

But no matter how much money you give away, it will never take away your guilt. God said, "Without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22). If you want to give your money away, don't think I'm opposed to the idea. But also remember, it won't make you into a good person. Only Christ's blood can accomplish that. 

(This post first appeared at ClearNoteChurch.com)

Joseph and his wife, Heidi, have five children, Tate, Eliza Jane, Moses, Fiona and Annabel. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and Clearnote Pastors College. He is currently planting Christ Church in Cincinnati with several other families.