A More Perfect Union

Hello, my friends.

I haven’t written on my blog in years. I’m sure that the things I wrote are trivial and hilarious to read… feel free to flip back if you want. But that’s not what this is about.

Please, read everything so you don’t misunderstand me.

It’s finals week. I don’t have time to be writing this. But I cannot sleep. I can’t get over the dread and anxiety I have over the state of the media, our nation, the world… and the fear I have for my future children. What will their world be like?

I’m getting ahead of myself.

There are so many debates going on all over this country. Let all refugees in! Ban Muslims! Gun control! A gun in every home! Trump! Hillary!

So much noise. So much anger. So much hatred. So much fear and bigotry and hate hate hate.

My heart is aching.

The words my heart whisper are things that you likely also believe. I like to think that most people who have been taught correct principles and who have allowed them to really sink into their hearts, regardless of race, status, culture, religion, or creed believe these things.

  1. Human beings deserve to be treated as human beings. Not as property, not as objects for us to act upon – but people. People with families, with desires, with dreams, with hopes and homes and plans and everyday struggles common to all men.
  2. “All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of  Happiness…”

There are exceptions.

We both know there are exceptions. People abuse their spouses. Children are neglected. Terrorists perform heinous acts upon the innocent. Sociopathic serial killers take lives to satisfy their own desires. People lie and cheat and steal. People believe and subscribe to false ideologies that inform their poisonous actions.

But, for our purposes, let’s go with the assumption that you are not, in fact, a sociopathic serial killer. You are not neglecting your children, nor do you hit your husband in the head with a frying pan or beat your wife or bomb public settings with the hopes of destroying innocent lives. You don’t stalk people, you don’t kill them, and you’re not going to end up with a Law & Order: SVU episode based on your exploits.

Okay?

Let’s also assume that you care for people even when you don’t know them. You mourn the loss of people who die in car accidents on the freeway. You hope peace can someday find its way into the hearts of those whose loved ones die of cancer, are killed in battle, or go missing and are never seen or heard from again.

When you read about the atrocities of the Holocaust, you probably become uncomfortable. Maybe you feel anger. If you were to visit a Nazi concentration camp, you would probably feel a deep and sobering sorrow as you walked through their barracks, through the furnaces into which their bodies were stuffed, through the gas chambers into which they were herded like livestock for slaughter.

slave_ship

Diagram of an African slave ship. Not exactly a pleasure cruise situation.

When you learn about millions of Africans ripped from their homes to be stuffed into ships and sold into slavery, your heart breaks. You might even weep, if you think about it too much.

You and I both care for people.

We want what is best for them. We are fiercely loyal to our own people and especially to the safety of our families, and we know that others are, too. We want “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” but not at the expense of others.

If we truly believe the reasons early pioneers of our nation attempted to “create a more perfect union,” then we do, indeed, “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

Slavery is bad. (Duh.)

Naturally, we shudder at the treatment of Africans during the era of colonialism and slavery. Consider this thought by Thomas Carlyle, a proponent of slavery in the West Indies during the mid-to-late 1800’s. Speaking of African slaves’ emancipation, he explained:

Would the horses be next to be emancipated? [Carlyle] asked… It was only the white man who had given value to the West Indies, and the “indolent two-legged cattle” should be forced to work. The abuses of slavery should be abolished… The black African, alone of wild men, could live among civilized, but he could be useful in God’s creation only as a perpetual servant (196).

Carlyle later insisted that “more Africans” be brought into slavery to increase the economic output in such countries.

Painful to read, isn’t it? Surely such supporters of slavery and other vile treatment of human beings did not understand the worth of the people they were enslaving. They didn’t understand that just because the enslaved peoples were different from them, this did not make them bad.

We know better.

What was that, Mr. Jefferson?

In the United States Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “we hold these truths to be self-evident [not needing to be explained; obvious].

  • We might understand that to mean, “by virtue of being a human, the following rights are obvious and shouldn’t have to be explained.”

“[T]hat all men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable [unable to be taken away from] rights.”

  • Who is endowed with certain unalienable rights? Only citizens of the United States? Only white people? Only Christians? All men. All men. Everyone. All men. All: the whole quantity or extent of a particular group or thing. All men. The whole quantity of humans.

Yes, the exceptions can give up their rights. You can’t kill someone and expect to “pursue happiness” alongside the rest of society. A mother or father cannot neglect the safety of their children and expect to keep them in their home. Yes, we can give up our rights by our own destructive actions. But an important part of those rights is that no one can take them away from you unless you give them up by your actions that demonstrate that you yourself do not care about others having those same rights!

Proud to be an American.

Yes, we must be safe. Yes, we must be sound. But I submit you cannot claim to be “a real American” and reject the very foundation upon which this nation was created. You cannot claim to believe in God as the father of all who are living on the earth (“their Creator,” as Thomas Jefferson wrote) and claim that an entire religion ought to be banned from the United States. Does religious freedom only apply to Christians? What about Jews? No one wants to be called an anti-Semite, but how can we restrict the freedoms of peaceful Muslims? What about atheists? Surely they have the freedom to not believe, too.

“Real” Americans?

I find it interesting to consider what might have happened if the Native Americans had been strong enough to keep us out of their land — insisting that all white men are evil because of the insane acts of the radical minority — instead of being less technologically-advanced than we were, succumbing to small pox and muskets.

Many native peoples were enslaved, slaughtered and forced to the most remote parts of the country, in case you missed that fine print in history class. I am grateful for a free land, but I worry that when we suggest that an entire race or religion or group of people is inherently bad, we forget our own history.

You can argue that letting in “too many refugees” will give the same problem, that we will be overrun. They will bomb us until we are all gone. But are all Muslims radical jihadists? When there is actual unbiased evidence to support this claim, I consider that as a possibility. (You cannot site the acts of the radical minority and say that all Muslims are evil! That simply does not make sense. Correlation does not equal causation. Check out these hilarious graphs for illustration that just because two things are seemingly related does not mean one causes the other.)

Okay, this is my favorite one. I have to put at least one in here:

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If correlation were equal to causation, the more films Nicholas Cage stars in would cause a proportional amount of swimming pool deaths each year.

Fact: all children murder their parents.

Claiming without evidence that all Muslims are going to try to kill us is a sweeping generalization with dangerous consequences. As sinister as some of them are, the following generalizations almost become amusing when we attempt to accept them as truth:

  • All young girls brutally murder their parents with an axe. (Clearly taught by Lizzie Borden.)
  • Each and every British man is a serial killer. (Thanks for the warning, Jack the Ripper.)
  • All Democrats are bleeding-hearted liberals who want to take away your rights as an American citizen to protect your family. Your taxes will pay for their family trips to Disneyland, cell phones, and a new Ferrari in every driveway. (No evidence for outrageous claims.)
  • All Republicans are bigots who hate everyone but their own back-woods, inbred family. Your taxes will pay for their bunkers in the desert, complete with a small yet military-grade arsenal. (No evidence for outrageous claims.)

I know what you’re thinking.

“But this is different. All Muslims really do want to kill us. Really. [This newscaster on my favorite station] told me so.”

I would invite you to ask a Muslim what she believes. Have you done research to make sure you weren’t being baited by that newscaster into watching more t.v.? Have you made sure to hear both sides of what a religion believes? Not what others say about it, but what its actual believers happen to believe?

I’m sure you wouldn’t want people to proclaim that your religion teaches something that they do not, in fact, teach or support in any way. I know I feel very frustrated and just plain yucky inside when people tell me Mormons “don’t believe in Jesus Christ”, or that Baptists are all idiots for thinking they’re “saved by grace,” or that atheists are going to “burn in hell.” Did you ask the atheist why he believes what he believes? Have you discussed the teachings of your Lutheran friend’s preacher, simply with the intent to listen and learn, to seek understanding?

Have you taken a step outside of your own box, out of your own home, out of your own world view to learn what that person you have objectified actually believes?

If the answer to that is no, I think now would be a great time to do actual, unbiased research. I know it’s hard, and it’s not fun. Finding unbiased sources is difficult. It’s so much easier to listen to Donald Trump say we should “bomb the sh*t out of them” because then it takes no effort on our part. Friends, knowing the truth is better than lazily accepting what a radical-in-a-different-way, business-man-and-alleged-politician has to say on the subject. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. THINK FOR YOURSELF.

In Conclusion… hopefully.

In case you have some beef with me, I want you to know a few things.

  1. I do not condone violent acts of any kind. Wartime, when necessary, is different. But it’s that “necessary” part that is, well, necessary.
  2. I firmly believe that all men have the right to what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.
  3. Hopefully this is obvious — but do not misunderstand me. Those who could pose a threat to our nation should not be allowed to come here. Black, white, Muslim, Christian, tall, short, old, young. If you are a threat, you are not welcome.
  4. I do not claim to have the answers — I know there are problems that need to be solved. I don’t know enough about the research that goes into foreign visitors and immigrants, and I don’t know how our nation determines if refugees are truly refugees as they claim or if they are posing as such to enter our country and do us harm. I know there are hundreds and maybe thousands of people in this country who are mourning the loss of their loved ones because of extremists’ actions. I don’t have the answers.

Here is what I do know.

  1. No one and no system are perfect. We will always be vulnerable to threats, inside and outside our borders. That is the world in which we live.
  2. We cannot fight hate with hate. We can’t smack our child across the face for hitting her brother and expect her to not internalize that the strong beat up the weak, and that she can use power to make people do what she wants.
  3. I love people. My goal is understanding and tolerance while maintaining my own values and the safety of my home, my life, my family, and my community.

I invite anyone who wants to know more about this topic to look to informed, unbiased sources. I do not have all the answers. What I have shared has been hurting my heart, keeping me awake, giving me nightmares, escalating my already intense anxiety. I have spoken my peace and now I will hold it.

Choose to love others. Choose to seek understanding. Protect yourself, protect your families, but not at the expense of others.

Pray for our world. Pray for world leaders. Pray for peace. Pray for understanding. Pray for your own losses and for the losses of others. Pray to know what you can do to make your own piece of this world a little better.

Let’s all work together, okay?

xoxo

JL

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