In the early 1990’s, Dr. Edwin Friedman described America as “a seatbelt society.” He noted that our culture had oriented itself more toward safety than adventure. In “A Failure of Nerve” he notes that America has become so chronically anxious that our society has gone into an emotional regression that is toxic to courageous, well-defined leadership.

One effect of societal anxiety is a reduced pain threshold. The result: we value comfort over the rewards of facing and surmounting challenges.

A culture like this has no stamina in the face of difficulty and crisis.

How like the contemporary Church this is. In our commitment to “being nice” we have prioritized togetherness over making a difference. In our desire to feel good we bury our heads in the proverbial sand while the culture around us sprints toward its destruction.

According to Friedman, in environments like this, dissent is discouraged, feelings take precedence over ideas, peace over progress, comfort over anything new, and cloistered virtues over adventure.

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at

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