Traditionally, the week of Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas shopping season. But this year, it also served to accelerate the looting of businesses seen throughout 2020-2021.
For example, as many as 10 vehicles pulled up outside a Home Depot in Los Angeles with thieves donning ski masks before cleaning out a tools section of the store. The same week, suspects attacked a security guard and stole about $25,000 in handbags from a Nordstrom’s in Canoga Park.
In Monterey, a group stole an estimated $30,000 worth of sunglasses from a Sunglass Hut. In San Francisco, thieves took more than $20,000 from an Apple store the day before Thanksgiving.
Such criminal acts have caused corporations like Walgreens to systematically close retail locations in California due to high rates of theft. Critics point to a referendum California passed in 2014, which downgraded theft of property to a misdemeanor as long as its value is $950 or less, as part of the catalyst behind the crime wave.
Robberies like these are the continuation of the “peaceful protester” lootings connected with the previous BLM riots, where major retailers suffered huge losses at the hands of thieves. It’s getting so bad now that the San Francisco Chronicle posed the question of whether residents should “tolerate burglaries as a part of city living.”
But far worse is the case of Darrell Edward Brooks, the man accused of killing six people (including elderly women and a child) and injuring at least 60 others after he drove his SUV into a Waukesha, Wis., Christmas parade. Brooks had been released on an extraordinarily low amount of bail for a man with his background, but the policy was part of leftist Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s approach of releasing felons back into society.
“Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who's going to go out and kill somebody?” he reportedly told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal in 2007. “You bet. Guaranteed. It's guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”
Oddly enough, while the leftist media crucified Kyle Rittenhouse as a white supremacist and vigilante with no proof whatsoever, they are silent on Brooks’ background and motivation even though plenty of witness and character evidence exists. If the script were flipped and it was a white, MAGA-hat-wearing man with a visible alt-right social media profile who drove into a BLM rally, I think we’d see a different stream of media coverage.
But then, our mass media and Lady Justice with her blindfold don’t reflect one another. Author and columnist Guy Benson covers the situation well in his article, The Incredible, Vanishing National News Story in Waukesha.
The evaporation of common virtue
The causes of the rapid erosion of truth, manners, and righteousness in our culture are hotly debated, but I think a good explanation comes from a 250-year old book written by theologian Jonathan Edwards. In A Dissertation Concerning the Nature of True Virtue, Edwards discusses and contrasts two different types of virtue and how it motivates the behavior of people in society.
What Edwards refers to as true virtue is reflected in Scripture and understood by Christian believers. Once a person is born again (John 3:1-8), their affections and motivations change as they are conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Therefore, the external virtue they exhibit in society arises from a spiritual transformation brought about by God and His sanctification process (Rom. 6:22).
The second type of virtue Edwards describes as a type of common virtue. He argues that non-Christians can exhibit cultural righteousness, but its stimulus is different from that of the Christian’s true virtue.
The first motivator for common virtue that Edwards considers is personal pride. Historically, people have always wanted to be thought of as having good character, and therefore to be publicly thought of in society as a liar, thief, adulterer, etc., has been shameful.
The second motivating source is negative and involves fear. Because unvirtuous behavior typically runs afoul of societal law at some point, a person is driven to avoid the negative consequences and penalties that come from breaking public laws.
So, Edwards says, both pride and fear can restrain a person’s natural tendencies to exhibit unrighteous behavior and lead a person to behave upright in a society. But what happens when a person is no longer restrained by either pride or fear?
What happens is what we are experiencing today.
Currently, many wear the badge of “lawbreaker” with honor and have no concern of being thought of as dishonorable because of their criminal acts. Couple that with the disastrous policies pushed by leftist lawmakers that remove all fear from being caught as a wrongdoer and you have no reason for secular people to behave in a virtuous manner.
The end result is a culture that resembles a stanza from the Guns N’ Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle":
Welcome to the jungle, it gets worse here everyday
You learn to live like an animal in the jungle where we play
If you got a hunger for what you see, you'll take it eventually
You can have anything you want, but you better not take it from me
The evaporation of common virtue brings a rapidly deteriorating environment where people operate in a beast-like manner, with the only concern being that none of society’s dog-eat-dog behavior negatively impacts them.
The antidote for this disease is the true virtue that Edwards details in his book; one characterized by the fruit of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. As Paul tells us: “against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23), meaning there is no need for external rules because humanity willingly obeys God’s laws from the heart.
And at that point, the jungle turns into a paradise called the kingdom of God.
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.