It’s likely that in the next few years my family and I will be moving home. Back to purple mountain’s majesty and amber waves of grain; back to stars and stripes flying high about thy fruited plains. With that in mind, I’ve got a favor to ask. Before we make plans to drive those ribbons of highway once again, to make a home where the buffalo roam or maybe in the city that never sleeps, could you please do your best to get your act together?
It’s not a one-sided deal. I’ve spent a fair amount of the last six years defending you, explaining you, making excuses for you. I’ve stood by while others have ridiculed you and shaken their head in exasperation at you, looked on in astonishment, or downright insulted you. I have never hung my head in shame, never denied my citizenship, my country, my home.
So now you can do this for me.
Keep fighting the good fight, keep making sure that the fringe stays on the fringe. In the end, the gubernatorial veto of the recent Arizona legislation gives me hope. Oh, Arizona! What happened to crowning thy good with brotherhood? When some feel the need to create a law protecting them from a persecuted minority, there is something very, very wrong. Look, if you want to refuse business from a customer willing to pay you for your services, that is your own business (or lack thereof). If you are not astute enough to politely say, “I’m sorry, we’re all booked up for that weekend” then perhaps you aren’t smart enough to own your own business. If your desire to make it known, however, that you are refusing service to someone because their lifestyle does not mesh with your religion? Well that’s just shaming someone for the sake of shaming them. That is bullying. And it certainly doesn’t follow any of the religious tenets I was taught as a child. You don’t get to make laws to protect you against shaming others and then claiming persecution when they call you on it. Fearing that an influx of homosexual patrons are going to storm your small business demanding phallus shaped cakes and orgy photos of their wedding to their long-term same-sex partner is just…well, it’s ridiculous, offensive, and hypocritical.
Will you refuse atheists who choose to live their lives without God? What about those that believe in a different God? What if a local Wiccan comes in and wants pentacle themed cupcakes for a Wiccan rite? You will have to refuse them as well; Wiccans and not mono-theologians. What about the ridiculously high percentage of adults who admit to committing adultery? Should we go back to those scarlet letter days so they are identifiable? What about those who blaspheme? According to the religious laws some wish to take so literally, you should refuse service to all of the above. Is your business open on a Sunday? Are you tithing? Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.
Then there’s the health care fiasco. I was an early champion of the ACA, and still want to believe it is better than nothing. But when I hear that a very dear friend who has suffered in silent dignity with arthritis for the past thirty years was told that her medication, the only one that after thirty years of trial and error has been proven to work, wont’ be covered, well that makes me angry. Spitting angry. When you put your faith in the system, when you in good faith trust the system to do the right thing, and the system fails you that spectacularly, well, then something is very, very wrong.
When a friend has to explain to her eight year-old why people shoot others with such frequency and seeming disregard for human life in The United States, there is something very, very wrong. When someone’s right to shoot gophers on their lawn with an assault rifle trumps a child’s right to a safe education, there is something very, very wrong. It is past the time to open a dialogue, not only about gun control, but about the gun culture.
Change can be a hard thing to swallow; but when that change is inclusive, when it reaches out and shields those who were once left on their own, how can that be a bad thing? When change means that there is room for all, when it means that the no one will intentionally be left out, or be denied the right to exist, how can that be a bad thing? Should you be denied a life of liberty, the pursuit of happiness because of someone else’s religious or political views? Should you be denied basic human rights, including health care, because of your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, your religion, your income bracket?
I look forward to moving home. I look forward to my kids playing baseball on a town field, to watching them march to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance as they graduate. I long to swim in those shining seas, to see above me that endless skyway. I want to come home, because despite all that I worry about, I still believe in that majesty. I believe in land of the free and the home of the brave.
Let freedom ring shouldn’t be a battle cry for intolerance. It should be a rallying cry for respect, of inclusion, of progress.
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Come on back.
Our country needs level headed people.
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Thanks. I had to calm down enough to write this though.
Trust me, I believe you, and completely understand.
This is a very beautiful piece. I thought about this yesterday (lawful discrimination/persecution), and I was disgusted. Then I wondered, ‘how does the GOP sleep at night!’ Jan Brewer’s veto did surprise me (not only me!!!), but the fact that such a hate filled bill got to her desk should be the final warning to people in America regarding the agenda of religion and its purveyors. Absolutely disgusting. This piece is worth it’s weight in freshly pressed gold, and it should be. Bravo.
Thank you, Lex. I was stunned when I first read about it, and continue to be stunned as I read about more and more states that want to introduce similar bills. I have to have faith that they too will be shot down in committee (as some were) or ultimately vetoed. As always, thank you for the kudos and praise, and I am glad you are sticking around to read, if not to write. I interrupted my own writing schedule for this one because I couldn’t let it slide.
excellent…I’ll do my little part
Every little bit counts. Or I tell myself that in order to sleep at night.
I hear ya
Honestly, if I were you I’d probably stay there. It is getting out of control over here.
I will not be able to wake up in the mornings if I don’t believe, on some level, that the level headed people will continue to fight the fight and keep the fringe to the fringe. I have to believe that ultimately the good guys will win, you know? It’s too depressing otherwise.
I understand the need for faith, but I just have a hard time seeing those things lately.
Ummmmm, Dina? I came back and Dubya was re-elected.
Perhaps we will wait until after an election year then, you know, just to make sure. What bothers me most is that at the heart of this, yet again, is money. It’s not about being able to practice your religion in safety or without being under threat from a government (and…hello irony my old friend. It drives me crazy that the benefit of a government without an official state sponsored religion is that it gives people this freedom…yet there are those who willingly and steadfastly remain blind to that), it’s about being stupid enough to shun someone and when they sue you for discrimination (rightly so) being protected under law. And the worst part of it is that though the Governor did the right thing by vetoing it, it was under the guise of ‘this would be bad for business’ rather than the ‘this is ridiculous and wrong’ as it should have been. Ok, mini rant over. I’m going back to my novel, it’s easier! :-).
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Fantastic post, Dina! Thanks for writing it so I didn’t have to. But I warn you, these out in front, identifiable outrages are not the worst of coming home. Even though we’ve been back for 20 months (still in slightly in denial of being back) it’s the issues that lurk quietly in daily life behind the shootings and other jaw-dropping insanities that are really scary. I find the speak volumes about how this country views its future:
Crumbling infrastructure. Literally, physically, this country is falling apart from bridges to water mains and everything in between. You’ll also be shocked at the patchy mobile phone network and outrageous monthly charges.
Unseen crumbling infrastructure. At $40-60k per year for an undergrad degree, dumping newly minted grads out hundreds of thousands in debt, the middle class is guaranteed to shrink. What country doesn’t want an educated (and healthy) population to lead it forward? More to the point what country can go forward without a healthy educated populace?
That customer service thing that the US pioneered. That most definitely has been outsourced. But if you’re not paying your employees living wage you probably don’t care about your customers either. Which leads to:
No firm national minimum wage or national mandate for vacation days, etc etc
And my personal favorite thing I’m still not used to (still unexplained):
Every other ad on TV for prescription drugs asking you to ask your doctor about X drug if you suffer from mild to severe bipolar disease, certain types of cancers, type II diabetes, fibromyalgia, or other such complex conditions. From the outside, it looks like the doctors must just sit around in their offices waiting for patients to come in with fantastic ideas from TV and the internet about drug therapies…which must be the case since no one can afford med school any more?
Sorry, you got me ranting and I went off topic…off to take some meds for my unspecified mild to severe bewilderment.
Perhaps we should stay put for a while longer. Sadly, DW, I have heard the same from other people (and not only repatriated expats). It worries me, saddens me, and frankly, scares the shit out of me. It goes to show you how powerful and, dare I say institutionalized, the idea of The American Dream is–enough to maintain a willing suspension of disbelief as to what is really happening. Do I sense a collaboration in the very near future? When mainlining the American Dream becomes deadly? Let’s talk…
Oooh you had me at willing suspension of disbelief. Yes, let’s use our power for good!