Friday, January 20, 2012

The Political Process

(Picture by jacinta lluch valero)

2012: A Year of Thanksgiving and Praise
Day 20: Today, I'm Thankful for the Political Process

I came home from work the other night to a barrage of complaints from my son and his friend about how horrible America is, and what an awful government we have. They were ready to move to Europe to escape the horrors of America.

The berated our current and past Presidents, and talked about how they have ruined the economy and the country in general.

Curious as to where they got their facts, I probed for more information. Of course, there were no facts to back up their very emotional statements. I asked them why they thought Europe was better than America, and was told that they weren't in debt like we are. 

Obviously, they haven't been keeping up with the news of the financial crisis going on over there.

They complained about our taxes, until I reminded them that they didn't earn enough to pay taxes.

They complained about how terrible it is to live here, and I reminded them that we have a high rate of immigration to the states from countries all over the world, so it must not be that bad to live in America.

They complained about the elected officials, and I reminded them that when they actually participate in the process by voting in politicians they believe in and voting out those they don't believe in, they really don't have a right to complain about the process.

Later that night, I asked my son what set them off. Apparently, it was all about SOPA. Again, there was a misunderstanding. They thought that Google and Wikipedia had been shut down by the politicians instead of realizing that Google and Wikipedia had voluntarily blacked out to make a statement and to encourage the American public to contact their elected officials to vote against SOPA and PIPA. 

I explained that this is the beauty of the American system. That we can actually make a difference by banding together and speaking out. That often grass-roots movements can change the course of events.

We can do it with legislation. 
We can do it with elected officials.

One of the most dangerous beliefs is, "My vote doesn't count." There have been many elections, local and national, in which the winning margin was incredibly small. If only a fraction of the people who thought their vote didn't matter had bothered to go to the polls, the outcome could have been entirely different.

The internet is huge. Obviously, the American people have spoken, and SOPA has gone down to defeat. For now, Freedom of Speech is intact. We can still share information freely among our friends and relatives, and on our blogs, Facebook pages, and websites. 

While I have no doubt this isn't the end of the story, it is satisfying to know that we can still band together and make a difference.

We have a strange system in which often the vocal minority overpowers the silent majority. While these issues are seen as issues of freedom, it seems that many times one person's freedom results in another person's loss of freedom.

Take Christianity, for instance. This nation was originally founded as a Christian nation. The founding father's wove their Christian beliefs right into the legislation. Now, we have a President who says that America is no longer a Christian nation. Tell that to the 83% of Americans who identify themselves as Christian.

There is a movement to take the word "God" out of anything having to do with the government or our educational system. 

The pledge of allegiance was written in 1892. 1892 was also when it was first recited by approximately 12 million school children. I grew up saying the pledge of allegiance in school every morning, complete with the line "One nation under God..."

In 1963, prayer was taken out of school. It was considered "unconstitutional". In my opinion, the First Amendment, rather than outlawing prayer, actually supports it. 

"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 people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

If prayer is forbidden in schools, isn't that a violation of my rights by prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging my freedom of speech? To allow prayer is constitutional. To mandate prayer would be illegal.

Why is it that "freedom of religion" is translated as 
"freedom from religion"?

I have seen the erosion of Christianity throughout our nation since I was a young girl. And, I have to say, I don't like the trend that I have seen. The year after prayer was taken out of schools, the pregnancy rate for girls under fifteen skyrocketed from 5,000 per year to 27,000 per year.  At the same time, SAT scores plummeted. Violence and drug use has also increased dramatically over the years. 

It would seem clear that we are not headed in the right direction.

But, the events of the past week, and the uprising against SOPA give me hope. If we could stand together against our freedom on the internet being taken away, then what is to prevent the 83% of the American public from standing together to defend our religious freedom? 

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
~ Galatians 1:3-5

Today, I'm Thankful for the Political Process. 
It may not always be perfect, but it does give us the power to change things.

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