09 November 2008

The American Way of Life

For the recent past, I have been doing my best to hold my tongue and not say something I will regret as I have a long history of speaking first. But enough is enough. Sometimes you just have to say something.

I grew up in the Cumbaya era. Free love. Sex, drugs and Rock-n-Roll was the mantra of the day. Loving our Mother. One Way. Set it Free...blah blah blah. All a bunch of poetic rhetoric that as soon as most of us had a big bunch of money waved in our faces we decried our "love is all you need" attitudes and jumped on the "me first" band wagon.

It is hardly unexpected. We didn't want to be our parents. We were told to question authority and question ourselves, our values and everything we came in contact with. However, we also needed to pay the bills, have a few kids, buy a McMansion, and then grow a new conscience (as defined: the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good).

A conscience to return to the earth, to recycle, to love the earth and take care of it, to allow the actions of another - as long they didn't interfere with our own. To be socially responsible. However, some people thought that writing a big fat check took the place of actual action on their part. But still a conscience is good, it moves people to action.

Then the big one. To love without abandon. Even if it meant abandoning everything you had been taught about being moral. And you know what? It has made life more burdensome for everyone. The "if it feels good do it" lifestyle hurts a lot of people. I know from personal experience. My real father chose to worship at the alter of alcohol. Others in my family have made choices that put some of us in danger at times, all with the excuse that they couldn't help their behavior and that they were born that way. You know what, that is the worst possible excuse for anything. What you are saying (and please spare the emails in explanation - I've lived this) is that you matter more than anyone else. You care more about yourself than you do anyone else, because you won't even realize that this trial you've been given is too hard to overcome. Yeah. I know how much you love me, you've shown it.

Now all of this has spilled over into politics. In America we all have the right to vote. Each votes our conscience. Each goes into that little space we're given to vote in and casts a ballot. Let the votes be tallied and there are winners and there are losers. Someone's choices are not given the go-ahead and others' are. Some people are told they have to take better care of the animals they raise for food. Others are told it's okay that a teen-aged girl can have an abortion without her parents consent. Others are told that a woman and a man are the only people that can be joined in "marriage". And so on and so on.

What bugs me is when people think because the vote doesn't go their way they should find the people that voted the opposite way, hunt them down, scream at them, four inches from their faces, riot, wreak havoc in the streets of cities across the nation and generally acting nothing like the people they say they are - loving people who just want to love. Rioting at another person's spiritual centers is not a way to get them to change their way of thinking - have we forgotten 9/11 and the attacks on mosques in America - did that work? Does it work ever?

Maybe we should all recognize what it means to be an American. We get to vote. We get to disagree. We get to bring forth new proposals and vote on them. Let the chips fall where they may. We do not have the right to make life miserable for everyone just because we didn't get the results we'd hoped for after we voted. And remember, Cumbaya folks.