It seems the bulk of the Republican Party elected officials, and those who vote for them, aim to legislate for a perfect world. Or, rather, some vision of a 1950’s white picket fence perfect world, where there was no unwedded sex (without aspirin-between-knees), unintended pregnancies involved mysteriously shipping young ladies off for months at a time and a clouded future for the girls (though not their mates), where women went to college to learn to be better housewives, “happy” “faithful” marriages lasted forever and (white) children played harmoniously in safe small towns with penny candy and soda counters.
People with such rosy glasses think there needn’t be “special” opportunities made for people who aren’t born fortunate enough, or who didn’t choose to properly fit into this version of America. Who didn’t do well enough in school or have an entrepreneurial streak a great, marketable idea, and seed money. Who didn’t find, woo, and marry their lifelong (straight) partner straight out of high school or college. Who weren’t born rich, silver spoon filled with hand-pressed organics, attachment/or detachment/or whatever’s en vogue parenting-raised. Head down, hard work isn’t the solution in a vacuum.
Let’s not forget that, even in black-and-white Hollywood, pristine America didn’t exist. Greedy monopoly interests would’ve created Pottersville if not for George Bailey and his angel, and they hadn’t even figured out how to properly lobby for special exemptions yet. Pre-WWII, copyright 1940, The Unknown Citizen was plodding through the course of his life. It wasn’t exactly utopia.
There has never been a perfect America, and to punish those who don’t fit within the four corners of a bygone Instamatic picture doesn’t advance our country forward. Neither can legislating such narrow idealism cram us, ill-fitted, into the past. Besides, why should we want to go back to Bible-based justifications for racism?
There is no culture war, no class war – only a struggle to adapt to a changing world and attempts to makes sense of diverse identity, to carve out the parts that are “us” and learn how to properly relate to “them.” To move past the fear of differences and change. America is still a great idea, with some great thinkers and capacity for deep compassion and hard work.
“One Nation Under God” would be fine by me (though not everyone), but the broader assumptions have come to hint at a Christian version of Sharia law and blessings exhibited by success based upon capitalism. If the poor are poor, it’s their fault for not following God. If the sick are dying, they’ve probably done something to deserve it.
Modern American Christians take liberties with Biblical applications and misrepresent God’s loving intention toward people. Jesus died to wipe away legalism and striving for perfection. Jesus did not teach that Christians should overthrow earthly governments and impose Jesus’ commandments on unbelievers (to love the Lord your God…. and your neighbor as yourself… the greatest of these is Love.)
If “One Nation Under God” was defined by God’s terms – including exhibiting acknowledgment and appreciation of God’s self in every type of human, I think we’d be a more harmonious, successful America.
Soberingly, news outlets and scholars are pondering data indicating the U.S. isn’t Number One. It’s a kick-in-the-gut wakeup call, or it should be. What do we do about it?
It’s okay to be angry that the Constitution and Schoolhouse Rock and All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and the Golden Rule “sold” us a false bill of goods. Unbridled, lobbyist-aided capitalism and Potter-esque greed are to blame – not the ideals that give us a sense of fairness in the first place. We need a strong right and left and lots of vocal in-betweens to respectfully hash it out, sing in harmony, then lead.
Divided we fall. There’s enough remaining to fight for – less in a warring sense and more the internal, soulish battlefields – to find our common ground. To see the humanity and love and values of others around us. To see beauty in the various ways we find family and lasting friendship now.
We can’t waste time attempting to legislate an ideal that’s never existed, and there are plenty of logs to work on instead of bullying the rest of America into a version of Christianity uncomfortably similar to Sharia law. Let’s forge a reality-based, compassionate land of opportunity in America regardless of faith or lack thereof. Compassion is not limited to those who put on the mantle of Christianity – thank God – and patriotism means more than red-white-and-blue, men-died-for-freedom rallying cries.
As a Christian, it’s more than “tolerance” in name only. It’s a celebration of every person who comes into my life. What I learn from them. How I see God in them. How I watch courage and loyalty and compassion and integrity play out in the choices of regular people, and beautiful personalities emerge even if they haven’t professed faith in God and aren’t on my brand-of-Christianity team. (Do I have to pick just one team?!)
There is no perfect Christ figure running for office, so I must remain involved and hold elected officials accountable.
I will vote for those who advance freedom, equality, and opportunity for all, who see the imperfect world for what it is, and plan to create realistic solutions. They promote policies to help the poor and sick without asking whether those recipients of compassionate aid are deserving enough to be fed and healed.
I think it’s what Jesus would do.
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