Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fear and Loathing in America

... they're taking over America

In the wide spectrum of political ideologies there exists a balancing point where the vast majority of us find ourselves. Most of our colleagues, friends and families are decent, law abiding citizens who have no malice or ill-will toward the next guy. We follow the rules and generally try to do the right thing. Despite our personal political beliefs we are really more alike than we realize. It is one of the great things about America that we can vehemently disagree about politics and we don't have to hate each other.

I have a great deal of politically liberal family, friends and co-workers who I adore and greatly admire. As mentioned we are all more alike in the way we live our lives and do our jobs because we often share common goals and live a common experience. Most of us are not the ones attending political rallies and trying to get ourselves arrested for "a cause". Most of us watch these things on TV and depending on where we fit into the grand design, we shake our heads or we shake our fists.

Therein lies the crux of divisions that face this country. Outside the goofy (or dangerous) radicals on either end of the spectrum most of us are standing in the middle of the teeter-totter with our sympathies leaning to one side or the other.

It's The Judeo-Christians vs The Secularists

Twice in the last few weeks I have heard two people I respect and admire utter the exact same phrase ..."they're taking over America!" They were talking, of course, about the Christian fundamentalists - or in their world view - the Christian Right. The loathing they have for these politically active Christians is palpable. Their blind intolerance prevents them from seeing that the gay radicals they sympathize with are absolutely no different. "They're trying get Creationism taught in the public schools," they lament. Obviously they haven't been in a high school counselors office lately to bear witness to these shrines to homosexuality plastered all over the walls.

Both of these guys are of above average intelligence and have very successful careers but have little time for matters of faith. This is perfectly acceptable in America. They talk of how our commitment to a secular government is what has allowed this country to become a great and powerful nation, and they are absolutely right. What they fail to see is that our great secular government is great precisely because it is made up of some of the most religious people on Earth.

Stepping over to the other side of the tipping point those of us who hold strong religious views also see the secularists "taking over America". We have watched the culture become crude and unrefined as to be lacking in any discrimination or decorum. We have watched as our children slip from our control at a younger and younger age. They have seen a culture of dependancy on this so-called secular government grow in size and scope knowing full well that it is not producing good results. We have seen that the clear difference between right and wrong, and good and evil become gray and muddled. We talk of how our freedom of religion and faith in the Creator of all things is what has made us a fortunate and powerful nation - and we are absolutely right. What we fail to see sometimes is that most of the people who hold dear to secular values don't really want to bring this country down - they just don't want to be judged by our God's laws.

Can't We all Just Get Along?

The secularists simply cannot fathom that it's possible that those of us who are Pro-Life do not wish to supress women and condemn them to life of as a baby factory. It's not about controlling women - it's about the babies. We, the faithful, cannot see past the great gay conspiracy to realize that 99% of the homosexuals in this world just want to live their lives without fear and discrimination. So we all put up battlefronts by drawing a line in the sand and look with suspicion toward the other side. We say hurtful things and dismiss the other sides argument with flippant and often nasty rhetoric. This is not helpful.

Funny how we can associate on a daily basis - engaging in successful experiences with people who hold views so different from ours - and yet we fear, and in some cases loath the beliefs the other guy holds. Could it be that both sides have valid arguments and concerns? Also funny (odd funny) we can all look at the same thing, say poverty for instance, and conclude that it's the other guys stance that is causing it. The religionists see bad personal decisions and moral depravity as one of the main causes of poverty, whereas the secularlists see the inequitable distribution of economic resources as the chief reason so many have so little. Both are probably valid points but never the twain shall meet. One side says "You can't legislate morality!" and the other says "forking out welfare and handouts only enables them to remain poverty striken". There is nothing so absolute as an intractable belief no matter how much we browbeat each other.

What a Country!

We live in a country where both Billy Graham and Howard Stern are cultural icons. Personally I find Stern reprehensible, but I am sure that there are those who feel the Billy Graham Crusades are moralistic judgments based on an irrelevant two-thousand year old book. In the incredibly diverse religious cultures present in America we find unbelievable acts of charity and love as well as unscrupulous acts of greed and immorality. For every Billy Graham and D. James Kennedy there is a Jimmy Swaggert and a Jim Baker. For those who wish to be free of moral judgments every concievable avenue of depravity can be found in America. Short of committing a 1st degree crime there's no one who is going to be stopping them. Children, however, should be off limits to perverts like Howard Stern and deranged Catholic priests. That being said, I know a lot of really fine, morally upright people who have no time for religion - that's their right - it's still a free country.

On any given night we can turn on the TV and find Howard Stern parading whores and prostitutes up on the screen and on the very next channel find Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Now one can argue that both Stern and Robertson are themselves whores and prostitutes, but one man, Robertson, is trying to do good work while he is enriching himself. The only person Howard Stern is helping is himself and perhaps a coulple of men out there who suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Good vs Evil

For many of those who dismiss Judeo-Christian dogma the terms good and evil are moral absolutes that really don't have a place in the "shades of gray" world they live in. I think this is very misguided. If light has darkness and hot has cold then good will be pitted against evil. If you ask them if they believe if evil exists in this world they are likey to say that one man's evil is a another man's virtue or some such nonsense.

Timothy McVay, Jeffery Dahlmer of the BTK killer are (were) evil men. Who would deny that Adolph Hitler was and evil man? To pretend that evil does not exist is denial. To deny that good exists is foolhardy. The secularists will dilute the argument by calling good men evil when they disagree with their politics - examples: George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and even Margaret Thatcher. These conservative people had the temerity to have and to hold strong views that are in oppostion to secular beliefs - therefore they are (were) evil. Very helpful in a debate, um, well, not really.

I may not be able to see God or Satan with my own eyes but I do see the good works of selfless men and women and I have also seen evil working through others. Tell me you haven't...

Fear and Loathing

It has been said that we fear what we can't understand. I guess that is true. Looking back I guess I have always been personally conservative and a religious person. Easy women and decadent behaviour has always turned me off. Even when my friends and I "experimented" in our youth I always felt lousy about the things we did. Call it Catholic guilt if you want... I never understood the appeal of hurting women and wrecking other people's stuff.

By the time I was in my thirties and raising a family I was finally opening my eyes to the socialist take over of the world. True socialism and God can't co-exist, they are mutally exclusive. I do not understand the socialist/secular mindset and therefore I must conclude that I fear it.

Considering my good friend, who is not religious, (he is spiritual, he claims) he finds absurdity in worshiping a God he cannot see and massive contradictions in the claims of the faithful versus the way we actually live. He fears, and frankly, he loathes what he sees as blatant hypocrisy coming from those preach from the Bible. He does not want to be judged by the judgmental! Yet he is the sort of person who can cast judgement on someone he has met only once and then dismiss that person as being unworthy of his time and attention. He has the gall to call them defective and belittle them behind their backs. Still we have to hear how we conservatives and religious nuts are the intollerant ones.

Perhaps we will never see eye to eye on matters of faith and politics but we can and do treat each other well. I believe that there are millions of such relationships in America. I do not fear or loath the people I know personally that do not share my beliefs and I guess that's what it's all about.



TJ Willms said...

Great piece!

I witness this phenomenon almost every day!

A really good definition for future reference:

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.