Tag Archives: Liberty

The Difference We Make

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.

ConstitutionBooklet

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…,

Palazzo Letter

“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…,

The hopelessness…,

The rage…,

Journalists Attacked

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.

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The Goddess in the Harbor

There are days when I close my eyes, and I see her like this…,

The Struggle of Liberty

She struggles against those who would pull her down and extinguish the light she has held aloft for so long.  The torch has fallen and she reaches for it while the guttering flame casts eerie shadows all about her struggling form.

Her assailants rise above her, but who are they?

Who threatens the Goddess?

They do not hail from any foreign land.  It is no invading army that threatens her reign.  These are her own children, grown up in the light of freedom, which seek to break her will.

They love ‘the cross’ more than they do the Constitution and they are descended from the very same rabble who pulled down the statues of her brothers and sisters, looting the temples of ancient Rome, and murdering their priests.

How long before they rise up and try to pull down her greatest effigy?

Liberty!   Goddess!

They may call themselves “True Americans” and they may speak of our origins as a “Christian Nation”, but their claims are false.  One cannot love Liberty while seeking to chain all men to the worship of a single god through false claims of tradition.  Liberty breaks all chains and will tolerate no masters.

History will not bend to their will.  Here is an image of the goddess, stamped into the coins of the American Revolution nearly a hundred years before anyone ever read the words “In God We Trust”…,

Liberty Ha'Penny

Her enemies, her wayward children, they fume and they howl in their impotent rage.  They seek to twist the laws of the land to reflect their own vision of a world that will never be.  They will not rest until their God rules unquestioned over the whole of the land, but they don’t understand that he can never rule here.  This nation was born in Liberty, and if you thrust her aside, if her divine light is extinguished, the nation dies with her.

They may have the one, or the other, but never both.

This nation, these United States, belong to Liberty.

She stands, the Goddess in the Harbor of our greatest city, shining her light out for all the world to see.  Over four million people a year make pilgrimage to her great statue, her weathered copper shrine.  I have only ever come this close…,

Goddess In The Harbor

I hope one day to return and gaze again upon Liberty Enlightening the World.  And in the meantime, I hope that we, her children, will work to keep that flame burning brightly for all time.  Remember her in your prayers, this Independence Day.

She is the promise made, that we must keep.

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, Modern Life, Religion, The Gods

Seeking my inner patriot.

Perhaps you have heard of “Christmas Depression”.

It’s a fairly well known condition that seems to be caused by a combination of lowering winter daylight levels and increased social pressures associated with the holiday season.  In other words: you already feel miserable and everyone’s expectation that you should feel “jolly” only manages to make things worse.

I’ve seen polls that show almost half of the population has experienced these “holiday doldrums” to some degree.

Typically, as the holiday season recedes, and the days grow longer through the seasonal shift from winter to spring to summer, the depression also dulls, replaced by a happier attitude.

In rare cases, this cycle seems to be reversed and longer days bring darker moods.

So here it is…,

I have a hard time with Independence Day.

There, I admitted it, and it’s not an easy admission to make.

There are so many pressures to get out there and furiously wave our little flags and declare for all to hear our unabashed love of country.

Are you not grateful for the many freedoms you possess?

Have you no honor for the thousands who have died to defend your liberty?

Have you no national pride?

And I do feel some measure of pride to be sure, but it is a pride more focused on the individual than on the institution.  I am proud of those who have, over the years, stood up and fought against a system that seems hell-bent on denying liberty and equal-rights to all.  Yet, for every measure of pride I feel, there is a much greater quantity of sorrow and shame that these battles must be fought at all.

And then fought again, and again, and again.

As I sit up through the late hours of the evening to watch a woman filibuster the Texas legislature, whatever pride I feel in her efforts is overwhelmed by disgust as I watch lawmakers breaking their own rules and then falsifying their own records in an attempt to ram through a law that their constituents never asked for and which is itself, a lie of the worst order.

When, on the following morning, I hear the happy news that DOMA has been struck down by the Supreme Court, my pleasure is tempered as scores of religious demagogues begin to shout and bluster that the end-times must truly be upon us.

Sorry folks, the combination of dirty, religion soaked politics and blistering Texas heat, do not put me in the mood for a heaping slice of apple pie.

And yet, I know that my spirits should be lifted in these days.

The forces arrayed against us may curse and cheat and wave their flags in our faces until the fabric begins to shred, but the smell coming off of them in these hot Summer days is not one of conviction.

It is the stink of fear.

As they begin to see more clearly that the tides turned are against them, that fear will only grow, and like our friends in Austin, they will do all they can to turn back the clock.

July 4th Parade

And so I say to all those who love the Summer sun, and who are roused by parades and picnics and the red, the white, and the blue, to you I wish a happy and peaceful Independence Day.

I will keep to myself in a nice shady spot, away from the crowds and the bluster.  Perhaps I will watch the fireworks from a distance, (it’s the one tradition associated with this time of year that I have always enjoyed) and I will do my best not to rain on anyone’s parade.

Oh, but gods, what I wouldn’t give for a nice refreshing rain, just about now!

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Drone on, and on, and on…,

Last week a man stood up in front of the United States Senate and spoke passionately for nearly thirteen hours, and while he spoke, as his voice began to grow hoarse and America turned its attention momentarily toward those hallowed chambers in the District of Columbia, nothing continued to happen.

Nothing has a way of happening in Washington these days.  Nothing happens, depending upon the particulars of the occasion, with either style and decorum or with bluster and bombast, but be assured, nothing is happening.

These last few years, nothing has been the special provence of the U.S. congress, which is why, when a man stands up from the midst of that august body and announces that he will bring the business of Congress to a halt through the power of the filibuster, by the gods that’s the kind of thing that grabs peoples attention!  We never expected to see the Congress move faster, but just imagine what it would take to actually slow it down even further.  Would such a thing even be possible?!

Let me take a step back to explain.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this last week, or just had better things to do, you likely already know that the courageous hero in this story is Senator Rand Paul.  The subject of his glorious stand was the possibility of Drone strikes against American citizens on American soil.

It's simply chilling!  Read with the lights on.

Click to read the whole thing.

In particular, he seems to be somewhat vexed with this letter which he received from Attorney General, Eric Holder.  I’ll let you read the letter if you like, and I’ve taken the liberty of circling the bit which has Senator Paul in such a conniption.

Now over the years I have often heard people complain that the good folks we elect to Congress have a bad habit of not fully reading the bills that they are called to vote on.  In light of recent events, I begin to wonder if that habit is really such a bad thing.

In what delusional paranoid’s nightmare interpretation does…,

“The President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.”

Translate into…,

“I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in bowling green, Kentucky, is an abomination.”

—from the transcript of Senator Paul’s opening speech

Ummm…, okay.

It’s frankly no wonder that the administration took a while to respond to that.

How do you frame a rational response to irrational arguments which have almost no resemblance to what you actually said?  Do you use smaller words, maybe?  Perhaps you present your response in crayon drawings done in soothing colors?

Am I being unfair in my critique of the good Senator from the State of Kentucky?  Does my underlying suggestion that he is a paranoid buffoon strike you as offensive?

I’m okay with that, because the Senator offends me.

He has the gall to stand there for hour after hour patting himself on the back for “protecting American lives” when that hypothetical American of his, sitting in a cafe in San Francisco, stands a vastly superior chance of being killed right where he sits, by random gun violence, than by a targeted strike launched from some government drone.  Yet the Honorable Rand Paul will fight tooth and nail against any legislation that might make that fate less likely.

As I write this, more than 2,590 American men, women and children have been killed in gun violence, just since the Newtown massacre on December 14th of last year.

Gun Deaths in America

Who, may I ask, is filibustering for them?

Which starry eyed politician will throw himself into the cogs of government and bring the whole miserable works to a shuddering halt until we have an answer to THAT question?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The frightening thing to me is how many of the people I know honestly think this guy is a hero.  “Oh, he filibustered the Senate until he got an answer!”  “Rand Paul is the only one willing to stand up for the Constitution.”  “Rand Paul will be the best choice for President in 2016.”

One of these three is not like the others.

He’s not a hero.  He’s a freaking Don Quixote wannabe.

I’d actually feel better if Don Quixote was a candidate in the next election.  Sure, he’s a fictional character, but I’m pretty sure you stand a greater chance of being killed by a windmill on American soil than you do a drone attack, and our old friend Alonso really knows how to deal with that kind of threat.

Campaign 2016

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