Sometimes, it is hard to know how we can really make a difference in a world where everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, seems to be set against us.
Let me tell you a little story to illustrate my point.
A few weeks ago I read a short news item mentioning that Steven Palazzo, a Congressmen from the state of Mississippi, had sent a Bible to every member of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. A copy of the letter Rep. Palazzo included with the Bibles is included below…,
“Please find a copy of the Holy Bible to help guide you in your decision making,” he says.
Well, my first thought was – can you imagine the uproar if he’d sent out copies of the Qur’an.
After I stopped laughing, it occurred to me that maybe everyone should send a copy of their favorite religious or philosophical text to their local members of Congress, to guide them in their decision making.
But the problem is, I don’t want our lawmakers to be guided by any religious text, not the Bhagavad Gītā, the Nine Noble Virtues of Ásatrú, the Analects of Confucius, and certainly not the Holy Bible in any of its various translations.
When our elected representatives are considering policy decisions that will affect people of all religious persuasions, the only document that I want them to use as a guide is the Constitution of the United States of America, whose first Amendment reads…,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
And that’s when I had the idea.
I knew what I’d do to express my concerns to those in power over using the sacred text of one religion as a guide to governing people of many differing religions. I would send every last one of them a copy of the Constitution, along with a handwritten letter explaining my concerns.
Moreover, I would encourage everyone who was concerned about this issue to do exactly the same thing.
If enough of us did that, even if we restricted our efforts to the Senators and Representatives in our own states, such an undertaking would have to be noticed.
The pragmatist within me cautioned that such an endeavor would be expensive, but a quick search found copies of the Constitution, complete with the all important Bill of Rights, available for just a little over a dollar a booklet. I quickly ordered a handful and began making plans for my letter writing campaign.
This was going to be great!
Or maybe, it would just fizzle, but at least I would know that I’d made the effort.
A few days later the pamphlets arrived. Looking through them, everything seemed to be in order, although there were a lot of quotes listed before the text of the Constitution itself, talking about the “Hand of Providence.”
“Hmmmm…,” I wondered, “who published this edition?”
According to the fine print it was ‘The National Center for Constitutional Studies’, which sounds innocuous enough.
There followed another brief internet search, which quickly revealed that the NCCS is a group of rabidly conservative Mormons who believe that the founding of the United States was a divine act, that the Constitution is based in Biblical principals and that the government will falter without religion (and not just any ol’ religion, mind you).
So in my desire to do good, I gave money to the enemy.
What’s worse, is the knowledge that they’ve turned the founding documents of our nation into a vehicle for their propaganda. What good is the ‘freedom of speech’ when your opponents assume control the very words you would use to make your point?
On the surface, I suppose this seems like a small obstacle to a small protest.
And when I look at what has been going on in Furguson, Missouri…,
When we see members of the press arrested, tear gassed and shot at with rubber bullets by the men who are supposed to protect and to serve, but who choose instead to boldly trample upon that sacred 1st Amendment, how can we help but feel frustration and a certain amount of loss.
My own complaints seem so very small in comparison.
How can we ever hope to make a difference in the face of such terrible injustice?
Wouldn’t it be easier to just give up and let them have their way?
What is it they say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Wait, who said that, and why?
What if there ARE no small protests?
What if the the best thing that we can do is to hold true to our beliefs, and to remind those in positions of power that they were not placed there to serve either their own interests or the whims of a particular deity (or corporate master). They are there to serve us and that the only guidance they need in this holy task, begin with those sacred words “We the people…,”.
If nothing else, let that be the difference we make.
Now then, I know I’ve got some postage stamps around here somewhere.