“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (The First Amendment of the United States Constitution)
It seems as though my beloved United States of America has lost its ever-loving collective mind. Never in my lifetime, have I seen such asininity on full display from entertainers, athletes, so-called community leaders, and the men and women we elect to represent us. Our President types out more Tweets than an emo teenager, NFL players, take a knee during the National Anthem, disrupters of all kinds try to impede the Democratic process, and rioters destroy their own neighborhoods. Politicians and community organizers pander to any group they can label as a victim, and the white supremacists pander to the only group left, white Christian males. Feelings trump facts; everyone wants to be heard, but nobody wants to listen; right and wrong are whatever you want them to be, and the truth no longer matters. It makes me want to stand up and shout as loud as I can “Can’t we all just grow up and get along?!”
The participants in all this insanity believe that their words and deeds are sanctioned by the Constitution; that the First Amendment is a protective shield that gives them the right to say and do whatever they want without consequence. Well, no, it doesn’t. Since apparently, the Constitution and the mindset of the men who wrote it are no longer taught in public school, it looks like it’s up to me, the Middle Aged Housewife, to give you all a common sense, middle class, refresher course.
Let’s start with “freedom of religion”. This part of the amendment was created to prevent the Federal Government from establishing an official national religion. Many people came to this land to escape from religious persecution in their homelands, and being able to worship G-d how they saw fit was important to them. Interestingly, this amendment makes no mention of the “separation of church and state”. That statement was made by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, confirming that there is a wall between the government and religious practice. This was meant to assure religious leaders that the government could not dictate religious practices.It was not meant to infer that politicians, public officials and educators, could not rely on their personal principles, religious or otherwise, to guide them in their decision-making. When public schools ban prayers, and public buildings remove copies of “The Ten Commandments”, they in reality are violating the First Amendment. However, we Christians must realize that while this amendment was meant to protect our religious rights, it also protects the rights of non-Christian belief systems. This means that a ridiculous statue of a Satanic goat ministering to children has just as much a right to be in front of the courthouse as a stone with The Ten Commandments, a Cross, a Nativity Scene or a Menorah. As individuals, we have the right and the responsibility to practice our beliefs, and to bring our children up with the knowledge that under our secular form of government, all religions have an equal right to exist, but that doesn’t mean that all forms of religion are equally benevolent or beneficial.
In my next post, I’ll explain my take on Freedom of Speech.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales sits in Leavenworth awaiting what will most likely be a conviction and death sentence for killing innocent Afghani women and children. What he did is unforgivable, and goes against everything the United States military stands for. I have seen the effects of multiple deployments on military members and their families. The high rates of suicide, domestic violence, and PTSD are evidence that there are limits to how much stress a human being can endure. Limits the military leadership has chosen to ignore. Sgt Bales is not alone in his guilt. There are many who have facilitated his transformation from an average man into a monster.
The unofficial military mission statement of “doing more with less”, the Secretaries of Defense that pushed it and the commanders who bought into it all share the blame. The dream of a “Lean Mean Fighting Machine” would only be possible if the military were staffed with robots, but it is not. It is staffed with men and women who think, feel, love and fear. Who have families and lives back home. It is their humanity that makes them vulnerable to the horrors of war, but it is also their humanity that gives them a reason to preserve the dream of liberty anywhere in the world. It gives them the courage to willingly accept that the cost of freedom could be their very lives. This courage should not be taken for granted. Every military doctor who has proclaimed a troop “fit for combat” when he should have been sent home, every commander who has proclaimed his unit ready when deep down he knew they weren’t, shares in the guilt. Every officer who has ever put his career ahead of his troops, every military leader who lacked the courage to tell his superiors the truth, that his unit was undermanned and stretched to the breaking point, shares the guilt. Every Secretary of Defense who failed to make unpopular decisions on how to increase manning, every Commander-in-Chief who was told what he wanted to hear and bought it, shares the guilt.
After all the investigations, reports and hearings, are concluded and “band-aid” recommendations are put in place we will still be left with a military that is undermanned and weary. We ask our military men and women to carry an unimaginable burden. Our military leadership owes the Afghanis and Sgt Bales’ family, who is now left without a husband and father, more than an apology. They are owed and honest assessment of what went wrong, and real solutions to prevent it from happening again. Until the people at the Pentagon find a way to bring more men and women in and retain the well-trained troops already in place, the stress of repeated deployments will create more Sgt Bales’.