On March 22nd, I wrote a blog post entitled: When Freedom Of Speech Bumps Heads With Civil Rights. Since that time, a number of other similar issues have flashed into view and received heavy coverage by all the various media platforms.
Most notable perhaps, has been the passage by the states of Indiana and Arkansas of so-called Freedom of Religion Laws, but there has also been a controversial bill on Abortion in Kansas, and heated debate about Vaccinations and Death With Dignity statutes in a number of other states. In all of these social issue situations, religious belief is a current crossing the opposing current of civil rights.
At present, a growing majority of Americans do not have a problem with same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to choose, vaccinations that prevent epidemics of disease, or in preventing extreme suffering in terminal illness cases. However, a well-organized and highly vocal minority, asserting that their religious beliefs are being threatened, assiduously seek to overturn legislation and court decisions which conflict with their beliefs, which if successful would have the effect of imposing their viewpoint on the far greater majority that does not agree with them.
To me, the greater worry, however, is that these culture wars spill into the political arena and further fuel the political divide between the extreme left and the extreme right elements of both of our major political parties, thereby contributing to the gridlock that has paralyzed not only our federal government, but many of our state governments as well.
America, while wonderfully protecting everyone’s freedom to worship as they wish, is basically steeped in the Christian tradition. I’m Jewish, but as I read the teachings of Jesus, I find that he taught love and inclusion, not the opposite. Pope Francis agrees. And I’d like to suggest that it is high time that we cease these wasteful culture wars, as well as labeling ourselves individually as universally conservative or liberal, and join hands and turn our focus onto solving the many serious problems that our country faces.
On the home front we must deal with the Earth’s deteriorating environment, an educational system that is failing, our infrastructure that is badly in need of repair, and the income inequality that plagues our economy. And abroad, we face challenges from anti-democratic and anti-humanitarian forces, from terrorist organizations to nations ruled by religious extremists and other forms of dictatorship to name but a few. And the solutions to these problems, especially on the home front, are not conservative or liberal solutions, they are practical solutions which our ingenuity and resources can provide if we join together and summon the will to do so.
We are a nation that can send people to space and turn watches into computers. Our ability to innovate and create solutions is limitless. Only our inability to reach a consensus is holding us back. All of us agree that these problems must be solved. So how about we all start taking an active role and for openers, relentlessly email and telephone our governmental representatives and let them know that compromise is not a dirty word, and that we demand that they formulate practical plans for solving our problems and begin implementing them now, or we’re going to vote for officials who will!