Mayor Bloomberg Predicts Rioting in the Streets!

New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, made an alarmist

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, shown here during his September 11 tenth anniversary address, fears that joblessness could lead to riots.

pronouncement Friday.  He warned that there would be riots in the streets if Washington doesn’t get serious about generating jobs.

“We have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.  “The public is not happy,” he said. “The public knows there is something wrong in this country, and there is. The bottom line is that they’re upset.”  Speaking of their riotous response, Bloomberg said, “That’s what happened in Cairo.  That’s what happened in Madrid.  You don’t want those kinds of riots here.”

New York Daily News columnist Erin Einhorn described those riots.  “In Cairo,” she said, “angry Egyptians took out their frustrations by toppling presidential strongman Hosni Mubarak – and more recently attacking the Israeli embassy.  As for Madrid, the most recent street protests were sparked by widespread unhappiness that the Spanish government was spending millions on the visit of Pope Benedict instead of dealing with widespread unemployment.”

The rioting in Egypt is perhaps the biggest single news story so far in 2011

What makes Mayor Bloomberg’s pronouncement alarming to me is not that he predicts rioting; it’s that he doesn’t find it alarming that college kids would choose to riot merely because their nation’s economy is tanking.  He seems to view rioting as the normal, expected response, rather than a sign that something is terribly wrong with our culture’s response to troubling times.

Will somebody please remind our generation that we aren’t the first to face uncertain days?  Will someone who actually lived through the Great Depression please step forward and tell us that life doesn’t end just because an economy stalls?  Will someone whose life was interrupted by World War II please educate us on the forgotten virtues of sacrifice, generosity, hard work, contentedness, and selflessness?

What am I thinking?  If such a man came forward, today’s college kids wouldn’t listen to him, because he would be old, and old by today’s value system means irrelevant and useless, a drain.  Younger generations cut their teeth on post-modern thinking, which erased meaning, values, and moral absolutes that once permeated American society.  As such, they wouldn’t see the elderly as wise repositories of sound advice, deep wells of settling reassurance.

During the trying days of the Depression and WWII, people fell back on the

Fear and uncertainty are written on this Depression-era woman's face, but neither she nor her generation rioted wildly in response to their woes.

comforting bedrock upon which our nation was built: biblical values.  Even if one didn’t embrace the Christ of Scripture, he navigated difficult times by the light of truth that the Bible cast broadly across the culture.  As naturally as breathing air, the generations before us faced difficulties and challenges, not by rioting – they got through them.

They didn’t expect life to unfold perfectly all the time.  Problems didn’t surprise them.  Help from someone else wasn’t expected or demanded.  The thought that they should form riotous mobs in response to America’s woes never entered their minds.  Smashing store windows, stealing goods from shop owners, overturning cars, defacing public property, fighting with policemen – our predecessors couldn’t even imagine such a response.

So how can we?  How can the mayor of America’s largest city make such a startling comment, which is clearly designed for political purposes?  It was an open jab at reluctant Republicans, who President Obama is pressing to pass his job creation plan.  Surely he’s saying, “If you politicians in Washington don’t magically fix the economy, our kids are going to come get you!”  It was a threat.

Imagine you’re a college student who heard Bloomberg’s comment.  Wouldn’t you see it as slight justification – permission almost – to riot in the near future if things don’t improve?  Bloomberg seems to be validating the riots from abroad.  He seems to present the expectation that this is how American college kids and young adults should respond.

Bloomberg went on to say that President Obama didn’t create this economic mess; it developed “over long periods of time.”  He’s correct.  We materialistic, impatient consumers helped create the economic mess, and it’s been brewing for a few decades.  What’s been brewing right alongside the economic woes, however, is the spirit which will incite young adults to riot.  It’s the spirit which rendered God weightless on American society and then removed Him from culture altogether.

Friedrich Nietzsche - famous for his "God is dead" quote.

This “death of God” signaled the absence of meaning and gave birth to existentialist young adults who believe that the only thing that matters is themselves in the here and now.  Their decisions are processed through a filter which strains out everything except what is needed for them to actualize their own existence.  Thoughts of others are entertained only to the degree that someone else can help them.  Thoughts of eternity are never entertained.  Thoughts of life now resonating in the afterlife are never entertained, because “God is dead,” and ultimate meaning doesn’t exist.

This godless, depressing, dangerous life view is the powder keg behind the spark of riotous violence across the world.  It will torch America as well if we stay our course.  When meaning is removed from people who were created for meaning, they feel the void internally and respond wildly.

What a shame that prominent leaders such as Mayor Bloomberg aren’t thinking through the ramifications of their statements before they cast them broadly.  If they truly had their finger on the pulse of American society, rather than merely poring over endless focus group findings, they would be far more cautious.

I suggest that we Christians respond to these disturbing matters, not with fear, but with a renewed commitment to boldly share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Too many national Christian leaders choose to focus on the myriad problems that the church should attack, when mankind faces only one problem: sin.  It is deadlier than any dilemma, because it sits at the back, as the root cause of humanity’s woes.  Unlike other problems, whose consequences are felt only on earth, sin’s wages are paid out for eternity, in hell.

The world has not grown so sophisticated that sinners no longer need the gospel.  Mankind’s problems have not swelled to such proportions that the gospel is powerless to save.  Embrace the gospel, Christian, and carry it with renewed vigor…before the rioting sweeps our shores!

Written by Todd Ragsdale, pastor of Winnetka Heights Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK.  I am always happy to hear from readers.  Please go the “Contact” page on this web site and send me a message.