Monday, August 30, 2010

Restoring Sanity

Perhaps you missed it, but there was a rally Saturday in Washington, D.C., on the very same steps where forty-seven years earlier, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The rally, intended by conservatives to be a non-partisan gathering to talk of faith and support the troops, was merely another ridiculous trope-spewing photo opportunity. The same tired and hackneyed words wafted into the air, to fall on the heads of a crowd eager to lap them up, like fauna at a waterhole.

I do not mean to demean or denigrate those of faith, but there is a great deal of difference between having faith and restoring "faith." The faith talked about at the rally was not the faith of the individual, protected and encouraged by the Constitution, but the faith of those organizing the rally, who were more concerned with getting out their message than creating any atmosphere of religious tolerance. It was yet another attempt to assume that, in America, there can be only one faith in God: their faith.

Their premise was flawed from the beginning, as if Americans as a whole had completely abandoned faith, which is far from the truth. In fact, Americans of all faiths are equally strong and equally represented in this country. What has changed is that many no longer tacitly accept every tenet of their belief system, up to and including those who lead them. Many now shun organized worship, content is assuming and subsuming their faith for themselves. There is no shame in this, and certainly no problem with it. Each individual's faith is, in fact, theirs, even where they are part of a larger organized community. It is the individual who decides how they will express their belief in whatever system they ascribe to, even if that system says to them that there is no God.

Americans do not need to be lectured to, or whipped into a frenzy over, what God they choose to believe in. They will choose for themselves what makes the most sense, to them. Those who participated in the festivities may have been under the mistaken impression that, somehow, they were "chosen" to lead America forward, into a new age. They were wrong.

My faith remains undiminished. First, I have my faith in God, not expressed through any organized religion anymore, but by having had the opportunity to see the far-flung reaches of our solar system and our universe. No matter how the creation is expressed, by living consciousness or natural law, the mechanism of creation is a beauty to behold. It is nice to think an organized mind, similar to our own, but of greater depth and scope, set this all in motion. It may not be the case. Until there is definitive proof, I shall hold on to the idea of a conscious creation, through mechanisms we are still learning about.

My faith in humanity remains undiminished, though sorely tested at times, especially by the likes of those who attended the rally. So many seek to impose their view of the world on others, that they do not even do justice to the Constitution they claim to love, which says that no one may create a singular faith for all, or silence those who would dissent, or keep those dissenters from gathering peaceably. They would have us follow them, as if they were anointed to be our leaders. They become our leaders only when we vote them into office and hand them the power to lead, or when we surrender our reason and prostrate ourselves at their feet, refusing to question their motives and intentions. In the main, humanity moves past those who appoint themselves as "guardians" of society eventually, but the pace of progress is maddeningly slow most times.

My faith in my country remains undiminished, if, again, sorely tested. I believe the greater proportion of Americans to be decent, hard-working, and on the main, level-headed individuals, who pitch in when they must, work to provide for themselves, and maintain a healthy respect for the fellow citizens, even if they do not always agree. I believe that many of those we see on television are self-serving, self-aggrandizing, and prone to obfuscation and hyperbole as it suits their needs, more interested in creating enemies to make people afraid of, than coming up with rational and concrete solutions to problems. I would like to think that when the time is right, Americans of all stripes will stand up to those who would seek to tarnish our image at home and abroad with their blatant disregard for the liberty of their fellow citizens.

Let them not speak of faith as if there is one brand, good for all, but let us speak of all faiths and the lessons we may obtain from them. Let us find the common in them, that part that says that we must work together, help up those who have fallen, and honor each other by word and deed. It is not faith that needs restoration in our nation, but sanity; a return to reason, logic, compassion, and compromise is called for to meet the challenges we face, which are no longer simply America's challenges, but those of everyone around the globe. Let America lead the way by showing what true freedom is, and let us extend a hand to all who need it. Let the faith of Americans in themselves and their liberties become the faith of all people in humanity.

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