It’s time for another political lesson before I get back to the issues of Newburyport – a lesson which should not be necessary in America if our culture did its job training citizens in basic civics.
After my declaration last post, some would say, “But I don’t agree with the concept of Christmas!” Not to worry! It is our glorious country that allows us in a civilized and respectful manner to express our ideas freely and to attempt to persuade each other toward a particular way of thinking. This is why “PC” mentality is so insidiously evil. This is an attempt by culture to pass the poison cup to Socrates to make sure he shuts up.
We forget that great evil has also come not from religion but from when ‘organized’ religion grabs political power. That is when intolerance to conflicting views occurs. Even in Massachusetts, we had at one time a Theocracy – and with great shame a legacy of suppressing religious freedom even to the point of hanging those who expressed a different belief. (If you get a chance to go to the Commonwealth Museum (Right next to the JFK Presidential Library), you can read about this lack of tolerance.)
In America, we now have religious freedom and that means we can speak freely and respectfully – and that includes trying to convince others to join our faiths as long as we are not violent or force it upon others.
When our Bill of Rights was written, it had a measure that said quite clearly, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; (this is part of a greater sentence on free speech and a free press.) This was no slap against a person’s religious belief but against religion creating a ‘Theocracy’ such as they have today in Iran.
As a Christian, I am part of the three great religions in the world. People often mistake the old Roman Empire as having been lacking in freedom of religion. But it actually had multitudes of faiths and sects as long as you didn’t think your way was the only way. Jews and Christians and Islam believe they are the only way and this infuriated the government (Islam wasn’t around at that time of course). The pagan way of thinking was, it was fine to worship at your local synagogue and church as long as you strode down a few hundred yards and bowed your knee at the local temple to the Emperor.
I, as a Christian, believe with all my heart, “My way or the highway”, but I rejoice that I can live in a country where I can in a respectful manner persuade others to my way of thinking and I vehemently rejoice when other religious faiths (Yes, Islam too) have the right to do the same.
It is the free exchange of ideas in the great competition of persuading the hearts of men and women that has caused American to be a great fount of creativity. It’s this reason most of the world’s inventions and technological advancements come from America. Harvard, MIT and Yale are packed full of foreign students because the rest of the world knows this is where ideas are born, vetted and spread.
Let’s not scowl if someone says something that you disagree with – get the mind working and tell me why you are right and I am wrong. And be thankful we’re not living in a country where such activity would throw us both into jail!