First off, given the "breaking news" this morning of the Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, talking directly to his people, a church crowd, he said this...
"If the Holy Spirit lives in you that makes you my brothers and sisters. Anyone who has not accepted Jesus, I want to be your brothers and sisters, too,"
and this, "Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother," while speaking at Dexter King Memorial Church, following the official inauguration to the office of Governor.
"If he does so [exclude people by religion, or use the office to convert his constituency], he is dancing dangerously close to a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids government from promoting the establishment of any religion," Bill Nigut, The Anti-Defamation League Regional Director, said.
I admit, even though it came out awkward, the message from Gov. Bentley is really one of acceptance, not separation; he makes references to the relation that HE wants to be to his audience -- a brother -- even if you are a non-believer in Jesus Christ. Of course, HE wants you to be a brother, or a sister, and have the Holy Spirit in your heart -- but he can't make you to do anything, or believe something, you don't want to...but in any case, HE WANTS TO BE your brother all the same.
Looking at this from a glass half full point of view, the newly elected Governor tells us, HIS hopes are that you are a believer, while he lets us know he still "wants to be your brother" anyway, even if you are not.
Now, as far as the statement coming from Bill Nigut, of the ADL, saying Bentley is "dancing dangerously close to a violation of the First Amendment..."
I say, no, not really;
for all persons, -- no matter their lot in life -- whether a student, teacher, or public servant -- have a right for the free expression of their religion at any time.
Let me be clear, the PERSON, and all of our individual rights that come with, automatically and naturally go with us -- we have every right to eat sleep breathe our religion, no matter where we go, or who we are with, for whatever purpose...unless of course, we intend to do harm...then certainly, we will have issues.
Just as the case last summer, when Ramadan was being celebrated, the local community has every right to allow for Muslims to totally upend normal football practice during the daylight hours in order to accommodate the time of fasting for Muslims, even if, crazy enough, it would directly affect the practice for others who are not Muslim -- it was a community decision -- and falls into the framework of exactly that which our founders intended and wanted to protect; in order to reflect and honor INDIVIDUAL preference and beliefs of the community, the founders protected the right for states and local communities to practice their religion(s) as the community sees fit.
For above all else, the founders believed in the basic tenet, that without religion, the government of a free people cannot be well maintained and supported.
... and likewise, because it is a free country, we do not have a national government standing over us and commanding us to believe in the same God (or acting and leading in such a way that is against God); in action, this looks like the right for atheists to NOT to have to bow their head in prayer with the rest of us who call ourselves believers -- like for instance, when congregating in the town square to inaugurate a president or a governor or a mayor -- or simply gathering to honor the victims of a tragic community shooting, leaving prayers, flowers, balloons, and holding a candlelight vigil, say, all in a makeshift memorial, in front of a local hospital, say in Tucson (or wherever else the Spirit moves us -- even if the side of the road -- a common sight here, especially on the windy back country roads) -- but they, being the atheists, do not have to pray with the rest of us. It is their right not to do just as it is our right to do.
The First Amendment spells out "CONGRESS shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." THE control, the word NO, was hung on the door of CONGRESS -- for they could not be given the power to tell the people what to believe and how; not to mention, our rights were endowed to us by our Creator, not man, or any kind of Congress. The protection was for our own good -- because it was already well established we were a nation of people who accepted and acknowledged the importance of God in our daily life, acted by the grace and peace that comes along naturally, and already enjoying the free practice and expression thereof.
This specifically tells our federal government to butt out -- you have no business telling us what religion we will establish within our own hearts, as individuals; as long as we do no harm, we are allowed by law, to speak, sing, or bow our head; we can fast and we can celebrate; we can wear a cross, a burqa, or ashes on our forehead -- for we have the right for the FREE EXERCISE thereof. thank you, God.
Matter of fact, there was a time when it was required for our schools to TEACH religion, morality and the importance of obtaining a semblance of knowledge in various subjects (geography, science for example).
Believing not necessarily in the same God, or the same dogma, all the founders came to the same conclusions -- that being, the essential makings of a free, civil, responsible society, allowing individuals to pursue their own happiness under a limited, selfless government, required the individual to at least be in relationship with God, creating a flow of understanding that recognized a "fundamental system of beliefs concerning man's origin and relationship to the cosmic universe, as well as his relationship with his fellowmen" [taken from The 5000 Year Leap, by W. Cleon Skousen]
While a "standard of behavior distinguishing from right and wrong," in other words, our moral teachings, remained as the third essential ingredient to a long and healthy community.
So PUBLIC SCHOOLS taught these things back in the day because these things are good: religion (in a favorable light, of all beliefs) morality, and knowledge.
IN the best of times, religion holds us to a level of respect for each other; it keeps us beholden to any number of customs, more than likely born from our Christian roots, yet all the while, respective of the universal beliefs and morals shared by every religion under the sun.
A simple observation from Ezra Taft Benson, "America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
Now one could argue, when our PRESIDENT talks directly to his people, his base, saying "It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos and women, who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again," -- (white, not mentioned at all)
"If you help us do that -- if you help us make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November -- then together we will deliver on the promise of change and hope and prosperity for generations to come..."
Our actual President, of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, was not speaking to you -- if you are so unlucky not to fall within his 'target market' -- if YOU happen to be white -- and I'm especially referring to you, honky tonk white boy, you are not my brother -- or so we would assume by what he actually said, and never making any apologies for it, if for some reason we were to categorically misconstrue his remarks -- unlike Gov. Bentley's office, who immediately followed up with a deeper understanding in hopes of uniting, not dividing.
Or how about the time Obama said something like this, "we're gonna punish our enemies..." speaking directly to Latinos, sounding like he was right off the street, in the barrio, seeking their attention to come out and vote in the mid-term elections (last fall). Never mind religion, let's just cut right to the race.
In his own words, the POTUS was advocating to Latinos to come out to vote, to "punish our enemies."
Now of course, literally, we know words are expressed in the public arena that we really do not mean; there are times we say things, we really should have thought better; there are times we actually sound like we are advocating violence, when it is simply strategy lingo, an expression of the cause, an amplification of the campaign and keeping our sights set on the end result; and having said all that, there are times when even the Road Runner and the Coyote could make throwing down a boulder, or an anvil, look downright funny.
IN an educated, learned, civil, moral, sane society -- one that centers around our individual civic duty to do no harm to each other more often than not -- we recognize, out of the goodness of our hearts, and out of pure common sense, we say things that are not meant to be taken literally, as if condoning any violent action or outburst. IF we harm someone, it is wrong, no matter what; while, even our words can cut like a knife.
For kicks and giggles, this idea of not taking things literally swings both ways -- as in, you know that when someone says "I love Glenn Beck" they aren't really IN LOVE with Glenn Beck... it's just what we say... like we love ice cream or coconut cream pie, right... Right Glenn? You know, that if I were to say to you, 'I love you', you would know I'm not really In Love with you, right? (or maybe...) No, really, honestly, we don't truly mean what we say through and through (unless of course, we really truly mean it...what?).
luv ya. mean it. moving on.
There has been much discussion over the political rhetoric used by both sides of the aisle, regularly, and figuratively, and most definitely, without really thinking clearly way too many times. way.
How about the time Alan Grayson said on the House floor, with poster boards for props, "I apologize to America...for not ending the holocaust sooner...republicans want you to die quickly" when arguing his position over health care. really, Alan? can we get an amen that this man was not re-elected...
But seriously, I know we can be kinder and gentler -- but do I wish for us to change the entire political rules of debate and conversation? Absolutely not.
Do I think, if we are reared correctly and of sound mind, that we can make responsible conclusions when hearing that certain districts, and maybe even specific people, are in the cross-hairs and the target of the opposition party? Absolutely yes.
But Oh the fascination of what incites violence, the vitriolic remarks notwithstanding --
We can't use the word "nigger" -- and WELL understood that we don't, without question [unless you are black, or perhaps a rapper, but that's beside the point] -- but what we can do is label someone a racist, to their face, on camera or off, and nobody thinks anything of it? We can discredit an entire body of tea party enthusiasts, individually or combined, as "Nazi's" and "Racists" and nobody thinks twice. How do you think that makes a white person feel, let alone the African-American, Latino or Asian associated in the bunch?
And haven't we gone down this road before?
If we are going to have a conversation on what in fact incites violence. let's have that talk; can we direct our attention to Hollywood for a moment -- I mean, where do we begin with that machine pumping out violent acts against women and children every day, blowing people up, using handguns, using abrasive language and condoning senseless acts of violence in every which way they possibly can. Did you know they have a new show simple titled, "HUMAN TARGET" ? I wonder how that got approved; where for goodness sakes is the good conscience of Hollywood, right?
Then as we mentioned a bit earlier, how about Hip Hop Music, Rap, songs that glorify and make sweet melody about someone who is about to make a hit on someone, or just finished making a hit on someone, or daydreams about the possibility in the future, to have revenge, you know what I'm saying, yo?
Going down that road then, it would be just wrong not to bring up video games -- I would think if anything might incite an act of violence, a video game nearly walks you through all the possibilities of seeing it through, with sound affects and trash talk to go along with your every move.
AS IF --
when it comes to political rhetoric --
we just don't have the strength and the common sense
to think for ourselves, and more important, do the right thing!
yup, that's where our level of intelligence drops off --
bada bing bada boom.
We can be surrounded, with all the senses fully engaged, in an environment that eat sleeps breathes some form of a violent act through live stage, in the movies, on TV, on the freeway, even in the school yard and on the football field, and nobody stops to discuss it, make political points for it, does anything about it or thinks it is, in the least bit, to be just a wee bit offensive, if not something we should stop, or even see fit to change --
-- but oh no, get someone like Sarah Palin talking about tea party districts she wants to pick off and have for lunch and we've got a mutiny on the bounty. (Even with all proof pointing otherwise -- EVEN WHEN it comes LONG after the leftwing media and specific democratic campaigns did the EXACT same thing in 2004, and 2008 -- and even with some marking their attacks on one of their own, Gabrielle Giffords, just the same -- see G's blog last week, coupled with this from Newsmax, about the Daily Kos)
But just look at the things we choose, as a society, to pick apart... a well meaning comment that says "I WANT to be your brother." ATTACK! ATTACK!
To wrap things up, if we take out "nigger" as we should (respectfully agreed), then let's mutually come to an understanding to cease and desist words like "nazi" and "racist" -- if being used in the context of specifically targeting an individual, or a group thereof, carelessly, and loosely thrown around with a vengeance to attack, disparage, and ridicule without merit. just sayin' ...for 'dems fightin' words, you know what I'm saying? That is, without a doubt, a harmful attack, equal to that of the "N" word, if you wanna get real and get down and dirty with everybody's bad self; whether being called a nazi or a nigger, they are two "N" words that do the same thing to the heart and soul of a good, decent man. and really, who wants to be called a racist when your heart is in the right place? that is just plain mean.
Maybe we are due to have our "religion, morals and knowledge" re-evaluated and brought back to life in the public schools -- let's make it open season for deep, rich discussions everywhere -- about our Creator, the meaning of life, the responsibility and duty to each other, in word and in deed, and attempt to live up to "Christina's expectations."
That is the visual I want to hold dear -- a President reminding us to be the America a young Christina Green imagined -- without question, an idea lofty and worthy enough to call for real conversation and lively debate; wasn't everybody listening? Punish my enemies, not -- but love thy neighbor as thyself, treat others as you would wish to be treated, honor thy mother and thy father, do no harm, oh yeah, and don't call each other names -- be nice and good and happy people, people!
bring it! bring that stuff all day long with a vengeance!
I am not ashamed to say, I WANT each and every American to stand shoulder to shoulder as brothers and sisters - in Christ - in Allah - in Buddha - in spirit, just because it is the right thing to do -- take your pick and have at it; either way, we will not survive as a nation of good people, doing good things, and prospering one by one until we do; surely we will falter if we become that nation -- fallen to the deep dark side of despair, distrust, distaste, and desolation -- abandoning our own principles and living without thought; we will fall from grace, like we have never seen the likes before, imprisoned within the afterthought of what once was.
and you thought it was just a meaningless, stupid, little cliche to close with...every single day...
Make it a Good Day, G