Protesters set a fire in the street a block from the White House while protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images)
In the face of the violence and riots rocking the country, we face a painful reality. While all must deplore the death of George Floyd, we must recognize that the riots reflect a society in crisis, not bad law enforcement policies or “systemic” injustice.
We need to acknowledge a much greater problem than racism—which is only a symptom. The greater problem is a moral crisis of massive proportions. This crisis paved the way for the violence we are experiencing. These are not just riots; this is a revolution to change America. It will have dire consequences for the nation.
America Coming Apart
The moral crisis is not new. For decades, many have denounced the country’s moral decay. The sexual revolution of the sixties unleashed the unbridled passions, which destroyed countless good customs, families, and communities. Today, the mad rush for gratification destroys individuals by questioning the notion of identity.
What is new is how the crisis is intensifying with the anxieties of the coronavirus lockdown and the looming elections. Now more than ever, we see a polarized America coming apart. The moral fabric that keeps the nation together is unraveling, paving the way for revolution. All that remains are fragments that are cobbled together into some appearances of normality.
We are witness to the sad reality that it only takes an inflammatory event for the whole nation to explode into chaos. As the devastation of the coronavirus lockdown showed, much can be destroyed in little time.
Moral Law Is Essential
Any moral crisis comes from a refusal to abide by a moral law that is normative for human behavior. It can happen when people no longer admit an objective notion of right and wrong. They reject the Ten Commandments as reasonable rules for life.
Things fall apart when the determination of what is right rests on what makes each individual happy. In such conditions, societies easily fall into anarchy.
Indeed, huge swatches of American society have fallen into moral decay because of a refusal to acknowledge a moral law. This crisis embraces all social, racial, ethnic, and income groups.
Turning Areas Into War Zones
Since it is a destructive force, the most apparent manifestations of this decay are found in broken communities. Thus, it is not a coincidence that the common denominator found in areas of unrest and violence is not racial, but moral in nature. Whether in decayed inner cities or opiate-ridden rural areas, we always find the absence of moral law.
We find broken families without fathers or stability. There is sexual promiscuity that admits no restraint. Without sound family structures, crime and violence dominate communities. Thus, we have turned these areas into war zones. We send our police daily into battle against criminal elements and deranged persons.
Adding to the decay is the violence that occurs when churches are empty. People have no notion of a loving God, the Author of the Moral Law that brings order to society. Instead, they seek their spiritual highs in drugs that introduce cycles of despair into their lives, deprived of meaning.
The rule is that in areas where morality is missing, anything can happen. The most brutal acts are possible. There is no possibility of social harmony. We find ourselves blaming “the system” instead of the sins and actions of individuals who destroy order.
Not a Riot but a Revolution
It would be wrong to affirm that only broken communities experience this decay. Analogous situations where the moral sense is lost are everywhere, even among higher-income groups.
However, what unites these radical rioters is their rejection of moral law. They hate order and restraint. They take advantage of others who have lost moral sense to participate in their desire to destroy the remnants of Western civilization and a notion of the rule of law.
Thus, the existence of a moral crisis paves the way, not for riots but revolution, that is to say, the replacement of a present legitimate order of things for another illegitimate state of things.
Defeating a Revolution
We must refuse to follow the revolutionary narrative now being proposed by the media. We must reject the idea that the riots are the product of a class struggle that triggers and even justifies the violence. We must face the painful reality of our moral crisis and assume personal responsibility for our actions.
Above all, we can defeat a revolutionary narrative with another one. That narrative is the rich legacy of the Church and Christianity that sustain a moral law that leads to harmony, justice, and order. The nation must return to God, who can do all things and return the country to order if we call upon Him with a humble and contrite heart.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book “Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society–Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.” He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.