David Hegg | To Those Who Are Dealing in Death

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

By David Hegg

My normal writing schedule, which involves preparing this column a week in advance, means I’m often lagging behind the news cycle. This sometimes causes me to wonder if I should wait until the last minute to offer my thoughts. But recently, I’ve found that this approach allows me to avoid knee-jerk reactions and contribute to the discourse with a more considered perspective.  

That said, I know I’m late to the party when it comes to commenting on and assessing the campus protest activity that has dominated the news lately.  

I can understand that the war between Hamas and Israel has brought issues that have been boiling over for millennia to the surface once again. As one who has studied that region from the events of the Garden of Eden, through the time of Abraham, through multiple wars and religious conflicts, and up to the present situation, I know for certain there are no easy or lasting remedies to be found through strictly human wisdom.  

But the one element that continues to afflict me in these protests is the news that American citizens are now shamelessly shouting “Death to America.”  

“Death to America?” Really? I can only assume these men and women have no idea what that would actually mean. “Death to America?” Is it really their studied belief and ethical conviction that putting things right in this world will only come about with the annihilation of the United States of America?  

I could go on to repeat the cogent argument that our country’s financial climate and freedoms have enabled them to attend their prestigious, expensive institutions and wage the protests that have, in some cases, shut down their campuses and canceled their graduation celebrations. But I have something else to say. 

Those who wish death on anyone or any country don’t understand what they’re demanding because they don’t understand death. Death is a robber. It is a vile, wicked terrorist that comes to annihilate what is alive and precious. We all have experienced death’s treachery. Death has come and destroyed families by taking something we love too early, by sometimes ending life violently, and sometimes laughingly making certain we know that what we once had, held, loved and needed would never be ours again.  

“Death to America” is not a cry for us to do better. It is not a request that we reconsider our ways. It is not meant to garner massive support to wage a campaign using the means set forth in our Constitution to make changes, institute reforms, bring justice to those in the wrong, or in some way amend and correct areas where our democracy has gone off the rails. No! “Death to America” is not the stuff of “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It is a terrorist rant that is a thinly veiled threat to the health and well-being of every American. 

Those who proudly and boisterously call for “Death to America” ought to be ashamed and publicly shamed. While there may be reasons to protest, calling for the death of those you hold responsible is utterly irresponsible. I could never, in good conscience, call for the death of someone with whom I disagreed. Neither could I advocate for the death of a nation knowing that only a complete imbecile would consider that a group all thought and believed in lockstep. 

I know what you’re thinking. “C’mon, Hegg, they were just using hyperbole to call attention to America’s role internationally.” Really? If that were the case, I would expect the students of Ivy League universities to have a better understanding of international relations and certainly better solutions to offer that might actually have merit.  

I know the easiest thing to do when someone hurts my feelings, acts in a disrespectful or dangerous way, or disagrees with me is simply to cancel them. Right? But the easy way is never the most useful way to deal with differences. We are seeing the “cancel culture” everywhere. We’re seeing cancellation rather than meaningful confrontation, collaboration, and, eventually, cooperation.  

“Death to America” is the easy way out. And the easy way, when it comes to the great complexity of our world, will never bring about a workable solution to our problems.  

So, what is the solution? First, it is not to cancel these students or the necessity of higher education. In my business, I believe no one is beyond redemption. Second, when these students head home in a few weeks there will be some strong parents ready to correct their erroneous thinking and behavior. Second, I’m hoping that the names and activities of the students shouting “Death to America” find their way to those interviewing them for their first jobs. Nothing like consequences to change one’s ideology. 

Lastly, I pray that Americans think carefully about how each of us is contributing to our future and do whatever to make sure Lincoln’s hope will be fulfilled, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” 

Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays. 

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