Author’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles based on the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi beginning, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona, was born August 29, 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone. The Panama Canal Zone is a United States Territory, not a state. President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. Hawaii was a state at the time of his birth. Much ink and rhetoric has been wasted on whether or not Barack Obama is a citizen, yet few people have any concern about John McCain’s claim. The races of the men are different; the political parties of the men are different. Both are citizens of the United States. Let’s move on.
Sadly, many people in our country are obsessed with hatred for people who are different from them. Most hatred is based on fear—fear of loss of control, fear of loss of wealth, fear of not being proven superior based on superficial evidence.
Recently, 19 people were shot down at a meeting of a Congresswoman and a few of her constituents. The gun-wielding assassin most likely had felt overcome with fear that his government was not using its powers in the way the gunman wanted.
Some vocal politicians, political pundits and just plain ignoramuses actually advocate shooting people who have differing beliefs from their own.
Our country is suffering daily from hatred—hatred of those who are not just like “us,” the chosen ones.
How can individuals who think and wish to live in peace influence those who would tear our country apart with hatred? How can peace-loving citizens protect themselves from treasonous assaults on our freedoms by those whose own political agendas promote lies in an effort to grab power? How can innocent people trying to live their lives without harm to others combat the insanity that seems to be gripping too many members of our society?
No easy answers are forthcoming but some measure of common sense must prevail in the political climate in which we find ourselves.
First, each individual must take full responsibility for one’s own actions. In listening to those who wish to take leadership in our society, each person must look into the motivation of that person. If the message the person advocates violence, each listener must decide if this is a rational decision based on the facts. Is it even logical to assume that the only way people can get along is by killing the person who has a different idea or belief? Let’s hope not!
Second, search out the facts of a situation. For instance, intense discussion has been given to whether or not health-care insurance is a good thing. Think about how much each of us is willing to pay for people who have no insurance because that is the bottom line. Those who have insurance are paying the health care bills of everyone who is unwilling or is unable, for whatever reason, to have insurance.
Screaming that the government has no right to make you take out health insurance is ridiculous. The government, in order to protect the good of all, has the right to make you have a driver’s license, to make you pay taxes, to make you have your child vaccinated before entering school, to do many things that you might not otherwise want to do. We can’t live without government and no one can survive without health care.
For example, on my teacher’s salary and my husband’s Social Security, we could never have paid the more than $150,000 worth of medical bills we have incurred since my husband fell and ruptured his eyeball. He has had to have six surgeries and more than 40 visits to specialists since this happened. Fortunately, I have good health insurance where I work.
It is estimated that millions of Americans file bankruptcy based on medical bills. This is hotly debated by various pundits on the Web as to whether or not it is every 30 seconds or every minute! What difference does it make? These people are suffering the loss of their life-long accumulation of wealth because their medical bills cost everything they had and more!
Wake up, folks! You can hear politicians preach “Obamacare” and how it’s wrecking the country as much as you want, but try going without insurance yourself and see how long you make it. It is not a bad thing that insurance companies now have to pay for preventive care, that children up to the age of 26 can be covered under their parents’ insurance or that people who have preexisting conditions can get insurance. No bill is perfect because it was put together by politicians, but we have to start somewhere.
Rancor and promoting hatred in the political arena is not productive. We can learn to disagree without drawing up hit lists and advocating violence.
Third, think about what your life would be like without the freedoms we have in this country and do all you can to support people who are not radicals. We’ll never go back to the days of the 1950s when we all believed that the most important thing on our agenda was where we’d be having a party on Friday night. We’ve gone through assassinations, 9-11, too many wars, too many demonstrations, too much prejudice, too many people who are undereducated telling us what to think.
America, it’s time to put aside our differences and work with our strengths. After the floods of this past year, we’ve all seen the amazing transformations that can happen when people work together. We have good people in this country who want to make a better life for their children and grandchildren.
Link hands and hold on to what we have that’s positive. Disagree peacefully and work to find a solution to our problems.
We’re too smart to espouse hatred. Let us sow love.