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.