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Cobra Effect: Part 1

This post was written in the summer in response to the racial tension.

In Britain controlled India, the city of Delhi had a cobra problem. As a solution, the government created a bounty on cobra heads. Entrepreneurs started breeding cobras to collect an easy bounty causing the government to end the bounty. Without the bounty, the breeders released their cobras making the cobra problem worse than before.

We need a solution for the current racial and societal unrest, but we also need to understand that unintended consequences are a reality and that our solution could make the problem worse. I don’t say this to discourage action but rather to encourage us towards wise action.

We act wisely by acknowledging our inability to fully understand the problem and the appropriate solution. We act wisely by acknowledging there are no unintended consequences for God. God hates all evil and racism and wants to defeat it, and He has promised He will defeat it through His Church, so we should listen to his instructions.  

This is what Jesus said to the future leaders of the Church,

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

God’s solution can feel empty and trite, but this is because our culture has a watered-down definition of love. Biblical love – as displayed by Jesus – is unmatched in power. God’s solution can also feel maddening because we live in the age of instant gratification. We want results today, but love’s power comes through consistency.

Once we embrace God’s solution, we find that it is beautiful in its simplicity. There are no pre-requisites, no graduate degree needed to love one another. But this simplicity challenges us to action. Too often we use government policy as an excuse. We think the current policy isn’t ideal (and we may be right), so we spend all our energy researching and debating a policy that most of us have little to no control over.

If we are serious about creating racial unity, we can’t use the best of our resources debating policies we don’t control and that will likely have unintended consequences. Our time and energy is better spent loving those around us.

6 replies on “Cobra Effect: Part 1”

Thank you Andrew for sharing your perspective. I believe Love is more accurately described as a decision and an action than as an emotion.

“… We spend all our energy researching and debating a policy that most of us have little to no control over”. You nailed me there. So often I let the perfect become the enemy of the good. The “small” acts of love are what I can do now, but the “big” solution ironically costs me less.

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