I try to stay away from personal opinion blogs, but today I can’t. I will preface it to say I’m neither political nor religious, and I prefer to think of myself as a humanist.
I think we have turned a corner. For years, I have witnessed the United States going down a deep hole of judgment and hatred. I’ve witnessed the increasing coldness of those in power . Politicians today are purveyors of hate and greed. It doesn’t really even matter which side they are on.
This started I think when President Ronald Regan began regular meetings with the arch hater Jerry Falwell. I remember getting so angry reading about it back in the 80s. People thought I was crazy then, but I saw it as a dangerous slope we sliding down. “If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being,” Falwell said. And, “AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals.” This so called “Christian” belief system was filled with hate and judgment, antithetical to what Jesus taught. So therefore, not Christian.
They purveyed the belief that corporations were people and their survival superseded everything else, including the right of the planet to exist. So the planet has suffered, the common man/woman has suffered, the children have suffered, and so have the huge variety of species that have gone extinct since then as a handful of white men became billionaires and plundered the planet. Of all the species that ever inhabited the Earth, 99.9% of them are now extinct, and a good percentage of those have become extinct in the last 100 years.
They waged wars that killed millions of people in order to preserve their “freedom” to continue to hate and judge and plunder the earth. They destabilized an entire region in the Middle East so that they could continue to wage war for years to come and thus profit from it. Not only have these wars resulted in mass deaths, but they are responsible for the current influx of thousands of refugees into Europe. Can you begin to imagine the horror and stress of crossing an ocean in a rubber raft, not knowing if you will make it to the other side? To leave your home, family, history to go somewhere unknown? Can you imagine the horror of seeing your children drown as you try to make it to a better life? You should try. Think about it, please; and try to FEEL it too. Find the empathy within you. My grandparents fled genocide in the early 20th century. Perhaps some of what they suffered is imprinted on my genes. But you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has not had such suffering in their ancestry.
The United States has become a country where people die because they can’t afford medical care. Where it’s unsafe to send your children to school, or enter your house of worship because some crazy person with a gun might shoot the place up. A country where quality education is afforded to only a few; where it’s ok to hate people because their skin is a different color or they love in a different way than you do. As the world moves forward, the United States moves backward into the Dark Ages. What happened to our “government of the people, by the people and FOR the people”? Why else would government exist? Certainly not to enrich a very small percentage of a country’s population. Government exists FOR THE PEOPLE. We are the PEOPLE.
We can no longer continue to turn away from what’s going on. We can no longer continue to marginalize large segments of the population. We can no longer allow people to live on our streets and turn our heads away as though we don’t see them. We cannot allow our veterans to come home and suffer from lack of medical care. We cannot allow our politicians to defund continuing medical care for those who valiantly served during 9/11.
What we have lost is compassion. Somewhere, mingled amongst the rhetoric, compassion took a back seat. We allowed the darkest parts of our humanity find their way into the mainstream. We have allowed hatred and judgment to become politically correct. All over the world, we see hatred and judgment taking lives, killing children, destroying countries and fermenting war.
“Where there is hatred, let us sow love.”
For years, I have been so upset by all that goes on in this country that I could no longer watch the news. I have been ashamed to be an American. I felt that my belief in human and animal rights, that all life is related and that human beings are intrinsically created to care take the planet, not destroy it, was well in the minority and not “politically correct.” I’ve been called a “hippie”, “bleeding heart liberal”, and a “misguided idealist”. I’m none of those, I am merely a person who believes in peace, equality, freedom and love. Don’t label it.
Do I care that some people believe that the world is only 5,000 years old? No. Do I care that some vehemently oppose abortion, or vehemently are in favor of it? No. Or that some oppose gay marriage? No. People will always disagree. It’s only when people’s rights are stomped on, when a government is shut down over someone’s opinion, and that opinion defies the law, or when people are killed because of a difference in beliefs that I care. This county was founded on the right to have your own beliefs and opinions, so therefore I must allow others to have differing beliefs. But when those beliefs defy law and people are mocked, killed and marginalized because of their opposing beliefs that I have a problem.
Compassion needs to make a comeback into government. We need to take care of our citizens, properly educate them, care take them and not take advantage of them in order to make a select few even richer than they already are. We need to become a government FOR THE PEOPLE. It’s become a question of do we continue to use money as a measure of our value, or do we move forward in our development as human beings and value compassion?
I always thought it would be a politician who might restore us. I never thought it would be the leader of a very conservative and previously somewhat judgmental church. But I have to say, watching the Pope today and yesterday, I am happily surprised that it was a religious leader who helped to make us see that we need to bring back compassion into our world and to once again care for our planet. I was moved to tears by much of what he said, and I salute that he has the wherewithal to say it.
The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature. Pope Francis before the UN, September 25, 2015
Today also saw the resignation of the Republican House Speaker, John Boehner. I watched the man cry yesterday as the Pope spoke. As though he finally understood how far he and the others had strayed from the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps it’s an “aha” moment for him, and perhaps more and more people will wake up see the Light.
I don’t say all this as a religious person; I’m not. I don’t say it as a Republican or Democrat; I’m not either. I’m not a political animal. I’m not a person who likes to stand on a soapbox. I’m just a person who is compassionate and believes in their heart that peace and love are still possible. To those who profess to be Christian, I ask, BE A CHRISTIAN. Do unto others. Don’t judge. Don’t hate. Turn your other cheek. Love your neighbor. Take care of the poor and the downtrodden. Be a caretaker of the Earth. And if you are not a Christian, do it anyway. It’s the right thing to do. These ideals are not just Christian. They exist in most of the world’s religions, but people have thought that it was acceptable to pick and choose what to believe.
As I sit and watch the interfaith service at Ground Zero, the memorial that symbolizes the farthest extreme of religion gone mad, for the first time in many years, I think maybe we have turned a corner. I celebrate this. Please let’s not go back to business as usual. Let us move forward.
Om Shanti Peace be with you Shalom