A Modern Epidemic of Control Freaks

rick mcdaniel

On May 9 in Yellowstone National Park a father and son saw a baby bison, decided it looked cold and needed to be rescued. The high temperature that day was 50 degrees and the low was 39. They transported the bison calf in the back of their Toyota Sequoia to a ranger station.

Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd but their efforts failed. The newborn calf was rejected by his mother and abandoned because of the interference by the two tourists. Ultimately the bison calf had to be euthanized. Yellowstone Park requires visitors to stay at least seventy-five feet away from all wildlife. The father and son were motivated by "misplaced concern" according to park officials.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is located on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. For a decade they have had a camera on an Osprey nest where people around the world could watch online. Millions of viewers logged on to see live-streamed egg laying, egg incubating and chick hatching. Many viewers became attached to the little birds watching them spread their wings and learn to fly.

But this year the camera is dark. On the Institute's website there is a brief explanation. "Regrettably, the cam will not be operating this season due to the increasingly aggressive actions of certain viewers the last two years."

Many chicks don't survive their first year due to starvation, predators or even their own nestmates. Some can't seem to handle the perceived tragedy. They want someone to intervene, to take action. One viewer wrote, "It is absolutely disgusting that you will not take those chicks away from that demented witch of a parent!!!" Nature can be tough, nasty and even grisly.

In 2014 some viewers of a bald eagle cam in North Fort Myers, Florida actually took matters into their own hands. When they thought the chicks were not getting enough to eat they headed to the nest site at night and tossed meat into it.

What is going on here? Is this just misplaced concern, online misbehavior or a sign of something deeper?

It is a sign of a culture addicted to control. Far too many foolishly believe that nature can and should be controlled. Their religion is scientism. They think actions must be taken as developments in science provide options unavailable in the past. But it should be well understood nature can never be controlled. With all our scientific advancements we still have tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, blizzards and many other natural disasters.

Medical breakthroughs have enhanced all of our lives. Yet, there are still so many diseases with no cure, far too many health problems doctors still do not understand. People can eat healthy, exercise regularly, get proper sleep, do all the right things to live long and still end up sick. It is frustrating, even maddening but it is reality.

A new generation is now being educated to believe they can control speech. When someone says something or may say something they find offensive or upsetting they try to silence them. If this does not work then they retreat to "safe spaces" where they can control their environment. What a terrible disservice to our young people. Falsely teaching them they can have control they will never possess.

The ultimate issue of control is how your life ends. The push towards assisted suicide reveals it. Life is precious, life is sacred we don't have the right to take a life or end it. We should not play God regardless of our health situation. It is deception to rationalize the right to die based on our perceived control over life. We don't get to determine when we die, how we die or where we die. The idea we can avoid suffering and pain is absurd.

Secularism has given us this perverted view. When we no longer believe God is in control then we are left to try and control things ourselves. The result is someone actually calling a mother osprey a "demented witch of a parent." People breaking the law when bald eagles are protected and it is a federal offense to feed them. Two people deciding they know better how to care for a bison calf than his own mother.

Tragedy, pain and suffering visit all of our lives. We cannot make our lives safe. Seeking security through control is a guaranteed dead end. We will never control our environment. Believing the lie of control leads to many foolish decisions and actions.

There are many unacceptable things in life. It is unacceptable a child suffers with cancer, it is unacceptable terrorists kill innocent people, it is unacceptable an accident brings tragedy to a happy couple. But this is the sinful world we live in not the one we would like it to be.

Acceptance is the antidote to control. Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer says, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will."

Acceptance is asking God to give you the ability to take people and situations as they are, not as you want them to be. You come to the place where you are able to accept what you cannot control. There are so many things in life we cannot change. We cannot change the past, we cannot change time and we positively cannot change another person against his will.

Of course there are many things we can change. We can change our attitude, we can change bad habits and we can change how we react to others. We certainly need the courage to change what we can and the wisdom to know what can be changed and what cannot.

In any unacceptable situation there can be denial, anger, bargaining and even depression. The source of true peace is to accept what you cannot change. Acceptance ends the pain and heals the hurt. Acceptance helps us to stop fighting what we can't win and brings us to a place where the inevitable is acceptable. What we accept we not only live with we ultimately overcome.

Rick McDaniel is the senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, VA and He is the speaker on the High Impact Living broadcast and the author of 5 Habits of Happy People. @rickmcdaniel

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