Looking through some files, I found this old article this morning — printed in The Orlando Sentinel on Sept. 11, 2003, regarding Teri Schiavo and other issues. Still true today.

“The Fraying Fabric of Culture”   by Michael S. Beates

I had a nightmare last night. Really I did. I rarely remember dreams at all, and I can’t think of the last time one was unpleasant. But this dream’s images remained, and even continued to play out just a bit more, as I drifted slowly into wakefulness this past Thursday morning.

In this nightmare, the entire fabric of our society shredded apart in a matter of hours or days. I am not sure why, but whether through some devices of terror or the plotting of enemies internal or external, our relatively calm, ordered, and safe society quickly collapsed into fear, disorder, and anarchy. My wife and I frantically sought to gather family together to survive and hold onto to what we could as services like power and water disappeared and crime blossomed everywhere. It became obvious that any government restraint or military protection had vanished and we had plunged into chaos similar only to images we’d seen on TV – foreign lands in the throws of violent lawlessness.

It was disturbing. People were dying and being killed right here in Orlando. It was a nightmare hard to believe as just a few hours later as I sit outside a coffee shop in the civility of a pleasant Orlando neighborhood.

“Maybe it’s because today is 9/11,” I tell myself. Has our national nightmare seeped that deeply into my psyche? Perhaps. The fabric of our culture was not destroyed two years ago though. Admittedly, some good holes were blown through it. But we are well on the way to repairing those damaged spots. We’ll always see where the damage was, but the fabric in those spots is already strong again.

The cultural damage I fear is far more subtle. As I sit peacefully sipping coffee and typing on the laptop, a man a few miles away, with the judicial support of  “law,” prepares to kill his infirm wife by starving her to death. Though others are willing to care for and love her, he chooses to have her die. Here the fabric of our ordered culture is fraying away into lawless chaos.

And just blocks from where I sit this Thursday morning in our City Beautiful, women, again supported by “law” and in the “safety” of a sterile clinic, will end late term pregnancies at a “women’s health center.” Contrary to the intent of the law (that later term abortions be restricted to health reasons), four out of five of these late term abortions will be for personal choice. The fabric of our civil culture continues to fray away into madness and chaos.

We take for granted the wonder and blessing of peace, prosperity, and a calm existence. But our culture is a terribly fragile tapestry. As threads are quietly ripped away, the integrity of the whole culture is compromised. We may be closer to my nightmare than any of us care to believe when we treat the weakest among us as not worthy of life and love. That is a living nightmare.

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