I got an e-mail from Democracy For America yesterday asking me to sign this pledge.
I signed it immediately and responded by posting it to my status on Facebook.
Another woman I know who does not share my views on politics or theology, quickly posted this link. The personal status she wrote to accompany it was “Because it’s a slap in the face and not a question of freedom of religion.”
I’m really tired of the “us versus them” mentality in this country. I’m tired of those who feel that the Second Amendment is more important than the First.
I’m tired of those who feel that freedom of religion only applies to their own narrow views or beliefs. Like it or not, the right to worship or the right NOT to worship as we see fit is one of our fundamental rights as U.S. citizens.
Our Constitution is a very, very old lady. It’s the oldest constitution in the world, currently. While there are mechanisms in place to make amendments, in this current political climate the idea that any amendment can actually pass is slim to none. Because currently, our legislation is not about making change of any sort. It’s about us versus them.
This country was made strong by our working together, but it’s always been divisive. To say that there were “good old days” ignores the most vicious war in our history (The Civil War, or the War Between the States, depending on which “us” you’re part of), ignores the European settlers’ abominable treatment of both Africans and Native Americans, ignores the early laws of Boston, which shunned any Christian who didn’t follow the narrow tenets of Puritanism, ignores the treatment of Italians, Irish, Jews, Chinese and more recently Koreans and Iraqis as they made their way to our shores for a better life. When we have worked together, we’ve accomplished some extraordinary things (albeit groups were still harassed and denigrated throughout many of these projects): holding together and making it through the Great Depression and World War II; building our extraordinary, original railroad and telegraph systems; setting foot on the Moon; creating the largest early network of air travel; and providing free public education and libraries for all.
We’ve always been a cobbled-together country: pieces of states, regional beliefs and laws, prejudices, and, yes, us versus them.
We can’t continue to afford this mentality, though. We can’t pay the low (yes, low) taxes that we do and expect free public education, good highways, police protection and the world’s most expensive military. We can’t demand Medicare and also say that a government-run healthcare system will necessarily be a disaster. We can’t expect the freedom to worship and not let everyone worship where and when they want to (or harass them for choosing not to worship). We can’t call the Constitution card about carrying arms and knock it out because those who’ve chosen the right to peacefully assemble say something that we don’t want to hear. We can’t pass laws that give only some of our citizens rights (because, you know, we did manage to amend this creaky document and the 14th time we did it, it became the law of the land that every citizen is blessed – or cursed, depending on how you look at it – with the same rights and responsibilities).
Buck up, Folks. You either support our Constitution or you don’t. If you want to make amendments, elect Congressmen and Congresswomen who will have the courage to take a stand and truly fight for their constituents, as opposed to simply fighting the other party. Who support your beliefs. Who will cross party lines if necessary. Who will think beyond “us versus them”.
I work in an environment where almost all of the other people there think differently than I do theologically and politically. I’ve learned a lot from them over the years. Lately, however, many of my earlier prejudices have been reinforced, rather than shattered. The more I become a “them” in this environment, the less likely I can find common ground to join them in an “us”. The fact that they all supposedly ascribe to a religion where one of the basic tenets is to “turn the other cheek” seems particularly ironic.
We live in a very big world. The citizens of our country and our planet are going to have to learn to work together in order to solve the extremely complex environmental and economic challenges of today. We can no longer afford to be isolationist and selfish, whether in our neighborhood, our place of work or school, our state, our nation or beyond our borders. It’s time to include everyone in the conversation.
Whether we like it or not.