Saturday, March 29, 2008


Lots of folks don't like "organized religion" because it supposedly tells you what to do.  You can't kill, steal or lie -- that sort of thing.

Of course, there are pickier regulations: you can't play Linkin Park during your wedding ceremony.  In our church, we don't allow the coffin to be open during funerals.  People chafe against being told they can't do something.

But if you think it's bad at church, it's worse in the business world.  Just read the headlines about corporations who don't want to be regulated.  They say that the market will make them behave in the consumer's best interest.  They say that everything they do should be voluntary.

They say, "Trust us!  We'll do the right thing."  This came up recently when New York State's "Airline Passenger Bill of Rights" was rejected by the state's high court because interstate travel is the federal government's responsibility.  But representatives of the airline industry said it should not be regulated at all.  It was a fluke that passengers who sat for more than twelve hours without food, water or bathrooms.


The reason we have regulations is because corporations tend NOT to do the right thing.

One reason why we cannot trust corporations is because they have no conscience.  They are amoral entities responsible to nameless, faceless shareholders.  Their allegiance is to making more money, and nothing else.  But even privately owned companies tend to cheat -- anything to cut corners and maximize profit.

In other words, they want to win.  And the fewer rules that govern them, the more they can get away with and the more profit.  

So, we have inferior building materials, lead in children's toys, poison toothpaste (okay, so that's China, but we're the ones selling), cars that burn gas at the same rate they did in the 1930's.  You get the idea.  If there were no regulation, this world would look a lot worse than it is.

Besides, human nature dictates that, while many will voluntarily do the right thing, many others will not.

Now, you may know that I like hockey.  Talk about a sport that needs regulation.  And wants it.  We need to have a referee who enforces the rules because we get carried away.  I've sat in the penalty box before, and I've watched my own teammates do dumb things because they got mad or just plain sloppy.  

At our level of play, we all have to go to work in the morning and don't want to get hurt.  So, we have somebody who tells us, "You can't do that," or "You have to do things this way."

We accept the regulation because it's the only way we can all enjoy the game together.  Without it, there is chaos, anger, and harm to the rest of us.

The same is true in church, where we define and redefine standards of behavior as best we can so that we can all serve Christ as a community.  Without those standards, we are no community at all.

The same is true for the nation in relationship to its corporations.  We do not want a system where everyone does what they alone believe is right because quite often what we get is each company doing what is right for them alone.

For all who dislike regulation, I say grow up.  My kids don't like me telling them what to do, either.  But even they like it when some elderly lady says to their mother, "It does my heart good to see such well behaved children."