David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.
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On the heels of one of the most dramatic presidential elections in recent memory, the pundits have had a field day dissecting what happened, what worked, and what went wrong.

Years ago I suffered a through a bout of vertigo as a result of an inner ear dysfunction. Fortunately, my symptoms were moderate and of short duration.

Yet for a few days I suffered greatly from a lack of balance. Each time I stood, the room seemed to take on a definite slant. I felt myself being pulled to one side as my mind tried to make things right.

After veering and stumbling and finally falling several times, it became apparent my best choice was to remain prone until the medicine took hold. I needed to regain my balance.

I had lost my equilibrium and nothing would be right until it was once again operational.

From time to time in our society we see individuals and groups acting out of balance. It shows up as a senseless act of gun violence, vandalism, riots, looting, venomous verbal tirades and myriad other examples.

When these scenes play out on our television screens, what we’re seeing is a loss of that moral equilibrium known as self-control.

The classical virtue of self-control is the foundation of moral equilibrium. Aristotle had it right in book seven of his monumental work The Nicomachean Ethics.

He described self-control as the ability, arising from within, to resist all temptation to do wrong after concluding, through logical analysis, what was right.

Later the Christian theologian, Paul of Tarsus, expanded on this thought by insisting self-control was actually the fruit of a deeper set of convictions concerning right and wrong.

Where such convictions are missing, or inconsistent, the result will most often be a lack of moral equilibrium. In simple language, those without a rational, reasonable moral center will have little defense against the temptations to evil so prevalent in our world.

But today self-control is becoming more and more challenging to develop for two reasons.

First, there is a cosmic shift going on concerning the validity of those moral convictions historically agreed upon by members of every society.

For example, respect for authority has been a bedrock conviction throughout time, beginning in the family where children are to honor their parents as those in charge.

From its genesis in the family, respect for authority flows out into the school, the market place, and society in general as we recognize that order and authority go together and must be respected if there is to be progress rather than pandemonium.

But respect for authority is no longer a given. This foundational element of society is being ridiculed, and we’re paying the price.

Secondly, and perhaps more sinister, the virtue of self-control, based on an inner set of carefully reasoned convictions, is now being described as the enemy of self-expression and the dangerous tool of those attempting to silence individual rights.

We know freedom of speech is something we all must defend. But the freedom of criminality, clothed in the destruction of life and property, must never be allowed.

Unfortunately, these two challenges to self-control feed on one another. Where core convictions that promote self-control are absent, self-expression can take on a destructive manner.

But far worse, for those who see self-control as a harsh restraint on personal expression, the greatest examples of self-expression will be those most over the top, most outrageous, and most destructive.

As a society, we’ve grown used to the outrageous fashions, lyrics, opinions, and antics of the entertainment elite. They began playing outside the lines long ago and we just smile and shake our heads.

But now we’re seeing many follow their lead in more unhealthy ways. In the past few years, and most recently in the riots following the presidential election, we have seen “outside the lines” violence on our streets by those who are intentionally throwing off all self-control for the purpose of self-expression.

The acts are troubling enough, but more so is the apparent absence of any set of moral convictions that would restrain those involved from destroying property and pubic peace.

Are there challenges that need to be addressed in our country? Absolutely! But without a shared basis of moral convictions, our union will continue to fracture into smaller divisive groups.

Civil disobedience has a long and storied history in our country, and the right to protest and seek redress of grievances is foundational in our democracy.

But when civil disobedience is no longer civil, and when respect for authority and love for neighbor are jettisoned in support of a cause, that cause no longer deserves serious consideration.

Where rational core convictions do not support a robust expression of self-control, both individuals and society are at great risk of devolving into a chaotic mess.

As Americans we have a duty to look first to ourselves. Ethics begins at home and in the heart. Let’s get to work. We simply can’t afford to lose our equilibrium.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Saturdays in The Signal.

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  • indy

    Op-ed writer: But respect for authority is no longer a given. This foundational element of society is being ridiculed, and we’re paying the price.

    Indy: Interestingly, I don’t see this . . . what I see are people looking for ‘equal treatment under the law’ . . . in other words, the law should be ‘color blind’.

    Likewise, the continued recitals of outdated folklore, ideology and beliefs continues to create persistent poverty to which violence is associated.

    Rather than accepting that economic growth has limits . . . think the basic concept of economics is ‘scarcity’ . . . we continue to ‘punish’ hard working people that can’t find jobs and call them ‘lazy’.

    This has biblical foundations in the virtue of ‘hard work’ . . . but must be seen in context with the actual economic reality we face.

    Op-ed writer: We know freedom of speech is something we all must defend. But the freedom of criminality, clothed in the destruction of life and property, must never be allowed.

    Indy: Yes, it’s unfortunate that those Americans whose freedom is being threatened are taking to the streets in protest and often times gets out of hand.

    I would suggest addressing those issues of civil rights to defuse the situation versus just sitting back and calling those whose liberty is being removed as being a form of ‘criminality’.

    Op-ed writer: Civil disobedience has a long and storied history in our country, and the right to protest and seek redress of grievances is foundational in our democracy.

    Indy: Yes, one only has to look back to areas in the south where black Americans who were protesting peacefully had fire hoses turned on them . . . or police dogs biting them . . . or simply being ‘beaten’ by police batons for ‘daring’ to ‘demand’ equal treatment under the law (see the 14 Amendment).

    Op-ed writer: Ethics begins at home and in the heart.

    Indy: On this we agree . . . let’s hope Americans ‘practice what they preach’.

    • tech

      “I would suggest addressing those issues of civil rights to defuse the situation versus just sitting back and calling those whose liberty is being removed as being a form of ‘criminality’.

      You beg the question here. First you must prove that “liberty is being removed”.

      “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

      ― Frank Herbert, Dune

  • nohatejustdebate

    Indy: “Interestingly, I don’t see this . . . ”

    I’d say predictably would be a better word, Indy. You never see the overwhelming flaws of your fellow liberal ideologues.

    Compare what’s happening in the streets of America to conservative’s reaction to Obama’s election in 2008 or 2012. Last year the Supreme Court overturned the votes of over 50-million Americans on gay marriage. Obama lit up the the White House as if to stick out his middle finger to half the country. And STILL conservatives didn’t take to the street.

    Remember the rabble you supported during the Occupy Wall Street movement? Compare that to the civil and orderly protests of the Tea Party. There’s no comparison.

    Face it Indy – your side is the only one that acts like crazed idiots.

  • “Indy: Yes, it’s unfortunate that those Americans whose freedom is being threatened are taking to the streets in protest and often times gets out of hand.”

    Indy, can you clarify and perhaps give some examples of what freedoms Americans feel are threatened?

    • tech

      Rather than “feel”, examples of actual documented events by a Trump Presidency. This is the typical crying wolf of the Left, i.e. Republicans are the personification of evil and the advent of the Apocalypse is upon us.

      Next: Revivification of mummified antiwar protests, media stories of the “suddenly” millions of homeless, grandma forced to eat dog food and driven off the cliff in her wheelchair, “McJobs” in a Dickensian dystopia of the “Trump Republic”, SCOTUS nominees not passing SJW litmus tests, rampant crime in Chicago attributed to Republicans, NRA “Wild Wild West”, etc., etc.

      The Wikileaks publishing of emails starkly exposed the MSM media (85+% registered Democrats) collaboration with Democrats to drive a unified narrative. They have zero credibility.

  • nohatejustdebate

    “First you must prove . . . ”

    This is a foreign concept to the liberal mind. Indy always ignores these calls for evidence or specifics and will continue to post more outrageous and unfounded liberal dogma with no accountability. Sadly.

  • Nishka

    America has become a “Kakistocracy”, which is a Government by the least qualified or WORST persons,
    and I do emphasize WORST PERSONS.” !!!!!!!!

  • nohatejustdebate

    Poor Nishka. Was a miserable way to spend every day in such hateful rage and bitterness for the last eight years of your life.

    • tech

      She’s representative of “Progressive” “compassion and tolerance”. We see the true rage filled totalitarian face after the mask was removed by her fellow citizens.

      I don’t feel the least bit of empathy for Ladimas/projalice11/Nishka. Her childlike hyper-partisan screechingly rabid irrationality is entirely self-inflicted and unreachable by facts and reason.

  • Nishka

    “Children have been writing letters to President-elect Donald Trump “about the importance of being kind to other people, even if they’re different than you are, AND ABOUT HIS VULGAR COMMENTS”

    • tech

      Care to share your letter?

  • nohatejustdebate

    MEGA BINGOS ! ! ! * * *

  • Nishka

    “Transition official says Trump will make Mike Huckabee ambassador to Israel and move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem: ‘Governor Huckabee is going to see it through’

    “GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION”

    • tech

      I’m pleased to see an affirmation of your faith. Judaism is indeed ancient.

      Are you pleased to see that the USA will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel diplomatically with the embassy move?

  • Nishka

    “Donald Trump blasts ‘Saturday Night Live’ on Twitter, Alec Baldwin puts him in his place ”
    “Maybe he should focus more on the presidency — and less on late-night comedy.” YEAH !!!!
    Shows his thin skin just over a comedy show !!!!!!
    What’s going to happen when the Foreign Dignitaries won’y agree with him OR GIVE HIM HIS WAY ???TWEET,TWEET, TWEET !!!!!!

  • Nishka

    “President-elect Donald Trump’s selection process for the top jobs in his administration has taken on the feel of a pageant.”
    AN EXTENSION OF HIS TV SHOW !!!!!!
    THE SHOWMAN IS STILL PERFORMING HIS SNAKE OIL “BOBBEH MEISSEHS” !!!!!!!!!

    • tech

      “Men and women range themselves into three classes or orders of intelligence; you can tell the lowest class by their habit of always talking about persons; the next by the fact that their habit is always to converse about things; the highest by their preference for the discussion of ideas.” – Henry Thomas Buckle

  • Nishka

    “Trump isn’t draining the swamp. He’s deepening it.”

    “It is our duty to demand ethical integrity from our presidents, and Donald Trump cannot be allowed to make himself an exception.”
    ” He is already trying hard to do so.”

  • Nishka

    “Early signs of what the Trump administration may look like: A man associated with white supremacy and misogyny will be White House chief strategist; a man rejected for a judgeship because of alleged racism will be attorney general; and an Islamophobe who has taken money from Moscow will be national security adviser.”