One of the old adages of parenthood is that you check to see who your children’s friends are. That’s because their friends influence them a great deal. If your daughter has friends who have their head on straight, then your daughter will probably do the same. But if your daughter tends to hand out with people who “make bad life choices”, then chances are that your daughter will be tempted to do the same and may make similar choices. Our friends often have big influences on us, and bad friends will have bad influences on us.
When we are young, we often don’t have the maturity to understand this, and we observe this in our kids. Son Jimmy has a friend Ryan who keeps coming over after school to play. At first, Ryan seems nice. But then, you start to notice that Ryan begins to do other things, like taking Jimmy’s toys home with him, or bossing Jimmy around, or even punching Jimmy when no one else is looking. Whatever it is, let’s just call it “bad behavior”. When Jimmy is young, as a parent you probably have to intervene. You may have to discourage or even discontinue letting Ryan come over.
When Jimmy is a little older, when he gets around other kids with bad behavior, you may have to have a talk with him and help him to focus on healthy friendships and not those that move him in the wrong direction. You expect him to start making at least some of those decisions himself. He may even have to tell someone directly that he doesn’t want to be friends anymore.
And when he is much older, he will have to make those decisions himself without your input. Hopefully, he learns to observe people beforehand and make proactive decisions about who he’d like to befriend without simply waiting for others to approach him.
This often affects us as adults, too. The people we hang with are typically people who think the way we do. Although there are often exceptions to this rule, we do have a great affinity for those who are like us. But there often comes some event, some abrupt occurrence, that shows those differences in some stark way. And then, we have to make a choice. Should we still be friends? And then we have to deliver that message to them.
We can also apply this to current events. When the Charlottesville white supremacist rally took place in August, followed by a violent conflict with an Antifa group, the white supremacists (KKK and others) were villified by all manner of other groups. This included not only liberal groups, but conservative groups as well. Although the white supremacists intended their rally as a way to “unite the right”, the right turned around and condemned the white supremacists. In addition to conservatives, an overwhelming number of churches and Christian groups spoke against the white supremacists as well.
The good thing is that, although many in today’s culture group will white supremacists with conservatives, there is a distinct difference. The former may want to hang around with the latter, but the latter do not want to hang around with the former.
Getting back to the Charlottesville rally, I think the white supremacists got the message. The Right does not really see them as friends.
But the Left also has their own problem: a violent group called Antifa. In this case, Antifa never got the message.
Not long after Charlottesville, there were two rallies in California: one in San Francisco and one in Berkeley. These were held by a group called “Patriot Prayer”. Lots of people turned out to oppose the rally, including Antifa. As you can imagine, it was a liberal counterprotest against this group. In both cases, Patriot Prayer had to cancel their rally because the police were afraid a violent confrontation would occur. Actually, a few members of Patriot Prayer showed up anyway, and they were violently confronted and injured by Antifa. You would think that this was another victory against white supremacists, right?
But that was not the case. It was a completely different story. Patriot Prayer is a small group that focuses on freedom, unity, and First Amendment rights. They are a diverse group with no bent toward white supremacy at all. They showed up even after their rallies were canceled because they wanted to talk to the counter-protesters as individuals. They wanted to have a dialog with them. Nevertheless, Antifa gave them the beat-down.
Of course, after this, many on the Left quickly denounced Antifa, right? Here’s a list of liberal groups that spoke against Antifa after those events:
That’s right. Crickets. Nada.
I would like to say that a small number of people on the Left did denounce Antifa, but only after a number of days went past. And that was a woefully small number.
The problem is that the Perpetually Offended have become the Left’s Ryan. And the Left’s Jimmy doesn’t want to tell Ryan not to hang around. In fact, Antifa seems to be welcome whenever the Left has any confrontation these days.
I’ve written about the Perpetually Offended and their worldview in this blog. The Perpetually Offended are angry about some long-past offense and will never get over it. There are many groups who are Perpetually Offended these days. The Left seems to be running over with them these days. They are angry, really angry. And nothing seems to placate them. How did they get this way?
I believe it all boils down to the problem I mentioned earlier concerning who your friends are. If they aren’t the kind of people you want to be friends with, then you should let them know. Otherwise, they will influence you.
The book of Proverbs has this to say: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 24:25.)
I know a lot about anger. I have struggled with it. I have it largely under control these days, but I know I have a tendency to go back there if I’m not careful. I once had a good friend – we’ll call him Bill – who I had a lot in common with, but he also struggled with anger. In fact, he struggled much more than I did. I found that I had to separate myself from Bill because he tended to pull me in that direction. His friendship was toxic for me.
The Left has a lot of important things to say, but they are associating too much with violent groups like Antifa. And the anger of those groups is overshadowing anything good the Left might be trying to say. Liberals have spent way too much time sitting in the hot tub of anger with those groups.
It’s time to tell Ryan to go home. Here’s hoping someone on the Left has the maturity to do so.