Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home of the Fearful and Land of the Befuddled

We are no longer "the home of the free and the land of the brave." Each day as I read or listen to the news, a new attitude is displayed which diminishes the original concept of freedom. People lash out at each other for reasons that make no sense and certainly show no respect. We are defined by our fears and our smallness.

Religions have always been the basis for war. We engage in preliminary battle formations by objecting to people who do not worship the way the dominant group in the community does. In conservative Christian communities, if your beliefs are differennt, you experience a modern version of shunning. It appals me that fearful conservatives act as if they need to defend their God. Is their God so small? They define themselves by the barriers they have set up to judge and condemn others. Ultimately, these social walls restrict their own freedom.

What happened to inclusiveness and outreach? How do we show our love for another today? Listening to the news, it's clear that there is no respect for the other's ideas we just talk louder as we talk over them. Scathing labels, implied threats and inaccurate banners all serve to confront, intimidate and demonize the outcast group.

Religion is not the only social issue that forces us to redefine who we are as a nation. We are fearful of people who speak with accents and those whose skin color is different. Suspicion is the first response toward those not like us. We turn to the law to delineate who is allowed to reside here and, if we don't like how that works, we consider changing the constitution. We are no longer a brave and generous people.

International organizations laud the generosity of Americans as we donate money to help those experiencing disasters in abroad. This is so easy to do. How is this generosity displayed in home towns with homeless and tired who yearn to breathe free of the burdens of unemployment, mental illness, or poverty?

Who am I to say these things? My ancestors on my father's side taught me important lessons about living in this country.

The Philips family came from Wales at a time of religious turmoil in their homeland. They were labelled dissenters because they followed the early Methodist and Baptist preachers, not the mainstream Church of Englannd. As a consequence, their names are not recorded in the local town records in Wales.

In Europe during the 1700s, birth position was very important. Unless you were the first born male who inherited everything, a younger brother needed to enter the priesthood or a profession. If these did not appeal to you, life looked rather grim. Johann Christopher Knauer left Germany for the New World and Penn's Woods (Pennsylvania). He bought land from William Penn a day-and-a-half-horse-back-ride from Philadelphia. His reason for coming to the British colonies was to find a better future for himself, which is like so many others that continue to come to the states centuries later.

I cannot condemn those whose beliefs don't match mine because my ancestors paid the price so that I can have religious freedom now.

I cannot condemn those who come to the U.S. for the possibility of a brighter future because that's what my great-great---grandfather did.

The situations that we've gotten ourselves into will not be resolved overnight because it's taken years for us to get to this point. But, this destructive behavior must stop now. Find what we hold in common and move forward together. So many federal systems are broken from years of neglect. Before we change them, let's see if they work the way they were meant to when properly implemented. Invest our efforts in building up rather than tearing down our country.

Pass me some bricks...