We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. American Declaration of Independence
Yes, I am getting tired of getting damned sick and tired of being told what to do. I’m getting even more tired of being told what I can’t do. It seems like every time I turn around there’s a new law governing my every day behavior, even in the privacy of my own home. I am labelled politically incorrect, out of touch with “reality”, antiquated, and an old grump by those who seek to tell me how wrong I am for believing what I believe.
Here all this time I’ve been living under the assumption that I lived in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Here I thought that I have a right to have my own opinions, and to speak freely about them, even in public. Well silly me.
Maybe because I’ve lived almost 60 years in our America I have to ability to look back and see how much things have changed. Some things have changed for the better, other things, not so much, some even worse. The rights of women to equal treatment under the law, and freedom of our own bodies took an enormous leap forward and then we looked away to other issues thinking that was a done deal. Now as a nation we women are backsliding.
One rather silly example of how times are changing is the example of cigarettes vs. marijuana. When I was a wild and woolly 20 something smoking pot was highly illegal and smoking a cigarette was not any different from having a cold beer on a hot summer day. Well damn, now that I’m older and don’t really care much about smoking the funny stuff, it’s becoming legal and cigarettes are now the evil villain that many think should be legislated by law out of my life. If I want to smoke a cigarette with my morning coffee the only place I can legally do so is in my own back yard. Quite frankly I would be less nervous about firing up a joint in the local Starbucks than I would be lighting up a cigarette.
Every time I turn around there’s a new law about some ridiculous thing that should be no one’s business but my own. There are many silly stupid laws that I’m outraged that our tax dollars pay for the lengthy contemplation and passing of. Things like what size soda pop I can buy, what I feed a child for lunch, how many times I mow my lawn, when I can water it. What kind I medicine I can take or not take, even the decision to stop taking medicine if I so choose to do.
The medicine example has me riled up because I got a call from a nurse working for my insurance company. She explained that they monitor my prescription usage and noticed that I stopped taking blood pressure medicine. She went so far as to say that if I continued down this slippery slope of not taking medicine I might lose my coverage. Highly indignant I explained that I lost 20 pounds and that took care of the blood pressure issue. I also told her to note in my file that I did not want to receive any more calls from a “concerned” nurse and what medicine I consume or do not consume is between me and my doctor. That statement right there is a political hot potato.
Another thing that is bugging me under the surface and just came to the front of my consciousness lately is; what is the real reason my blog is sitting dark and neglected? I told myself and you readers that I’ve been busy with other things. Personal issues, family issues, etc, etc. blah, blah, blah. I did a pretty good job of pretending that was it until it dawned on me that I was lying to myself and making excuses. I did some serious soul-searching and finally admitted to myself and now to you, dear reader, that I had become afraid to speak my mind.
And why am I afraid to speak my mind? There are a many reasons, but a few come to the front. The main one is that I see on the news everyday people in this country with our alleged freedom of speech who speak their mind and get slapped down…hard. Often I think “well that was indeed a rather asinine thing to say, but really? Should they lose their job or even get tossed in jail on some trumped-up charge, or audited by the IRS, for saying what they said?” This well and truly frightens me.
I’ve been rather mute the last few days because I’ve been glued to the television staring in shock and horror as this whole Boston bombing thing unfolds. I finally managed to unplug from it a little, but not completely. The same way I did when 9/11 happened. Sitting here weeping and wringing my hands is not solving anything and it just gets me worked up into froth of rage, confusion and sorrow.
This morning I was reading comments on the CNN blog page and one caught my attention. One poster said “…Freedom of Religion does NOT give religious institutions the right to preach hatred & intolerance.” I think I have to agree with this person. It’s similar to the conundrum of – does freedom of speech give one the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, causing people to get trampled to death in the ensuing panic?
I keep staring at the picture of this young boy, the surviving brother. He looks so innocent that it brings tears to my eyes. I know you can’t tell just by looking at someone what they are capable of doing, but I can’t help but wonder – what happened? He could easily have been any young boy I know and love, a son, a nephew, a grandson, the child of a friend. Young men and boys are so incredibly gullible. Ask anyone who knows one and they know this is true. Who or what turned this boy into a killing machine?
I am not in any way defending him, or forgiving or condoning his actions. He will have to stand and face the consequences of his actions no matter how misguided they were – before country and his God, whoever that may be. But I am still bereft of understanding. What brought this boy to these unspeakable actions? I can’t or perhaps do not want to logically believe that uninfluenced he would have committed these heinous acts.
Another thing that totally flummoxes me is why, if America is such a horrible, heathen, decadent country, do millions of people risk everything including their lives to come here? We shelter everyone here and many of us do not even have a say in that. This boy’s family came here for political asylum. Unfortunately, they did not come here for religious asylum. We take our freedom seriously here in the U.S. and based on that we inadvertently harbor, succor and educate some of the very people who hate us and want us dead.
So about this boy and his legacy; it makes me stop and think, what are we teaching our children? I think our overzealous quest for religious freedom in the U.S. has put blinders on teaching our children the basics. Many schools do not have anything in the curriculum that addresses morality or ethics – right vs. wrong. The only place our children may hear this at all is on their parent’s knee.
We’ve dropped the ball here. I don’t think teaching children to respect the rights of others, to exercise tolerance, to do onto others as you would have them do unto you, to not be the first one to throw the stone, is a religious issue at all. It’s a human issue. We have never needed this more than we need it right now. We need to step up to the plate and seriously teach our children our beliefs in our schools, churches, and at the dinner table. If we do not we create a vacuum and get left in the dust by those who do pass on their own “religious” beliefs of hatred and intolerance.