Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Things That Matter (More Politics!)

This has been a recurring theme lately.  This morning, with LG's teacher, and yesterday in my drama class.  We had a guest speaker (she works at the synagogue) who is originally from St. Petersburg.  She grew up in the Soviet Union, then came to the U.S. with her family when she was 37, back in 1993.  There is a large Russian community in the area, and she helps them get acclimated to living in the U.S.
She spoke about what it was like to be Jewish in the U.S.S.R. It was a cultural thing, rather than religious, as religion was banned.  If you had any Jewish blood in you, you were considered a Jew.  And that was NOT a good thing.  It was put on your school record, and only 3 Jews were allowed per classroom.  You were not allowed to associate with non-Jews.  It sounds like early Nazi Germany, but this was in the 80's!
Of course, it wasn't just Jews who were singled out.  Anyone who didn't tow the Party line suffered.  Most of us have heard horror stories about communist regimes, but I think it's easy to forget and take our freedom for granted.
This may be controversial, but I think a big problem in our culture right now is that we are spoiled.  We want things the way we want them, and we want it NOW!!!!! And not just for ourselves, but everyone else has to want the same things, as well, and anyone who is different should be not only shunned, but punished. We take our rights for granted.  Look at how many of us DON'T vote, when in other parts of the world people literally die for that right.
We believe we have come a long way, and we have, but then someone running for office, or a Supreme Court justice, points out that certain freedoms are NOT guaranteed to certain groups under the Constitution.  Pretty scary, actually!  The idea that the rights we fought long and hard for can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
Or worse, eroded over a period of time.

I guess it's pretty obvious that I was not a fan of the Bush administration.  But when some people on the left started comparing him to Hitler, I got mad.  Then when people started drawing mustaches and swastikas on pictures of President Obama because he wanted to give us health care, I got REALLY angry!!!!!  Especially because a lot of the people making these Nazi references had NO IDEA WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT!!!!!!!!!   ( And some of them were even Holocaust deniers!)
Listening to this woman speak yesterday, I realized how ignorant we have become.  We call people socialists, communists, Marxists, Nazis, etc. But we have NO IDEA what those labels really mean!  As far as I know, no president in the past 40 years has ordered concentration camps be built. No one in this country has been put into an oven.  Religion is still legal, and we are free to practice or not as we choose.  The separation of Church and Sate may not be written literally into the Constitution, but it has been part of the foundation of this country since the beginning.  And it is a two-way street: religious organizations cannot interfere in government, but then the government cannot tell you how (or even if) to practice your religion.  Do we REALLY want to throw that away?
Yes, it's true, there are no literal protections of womens' rights in the Constitution.  We NEED and Equal Rights Amendment, because anything could happen.  And all those women (and men) who sacrificed to get us to the point we're at today will have made those sacrifices in vain.

I think we are at a crossroads right now: we can either continue to break away from each other and fight one another, or we can regain our senses and remember that a democracy needs ALL of its citizens, and all our various beliefs, in order to stand.  Being an American isn't about being a Christian or a Jew, Black or White or Asian or Latin, democrat or republican or independent, it is ALL of these things! We are interdependent, and we NEED each other!
We are the Original Melting Pot.  No other country had done what we did 200 years ago.  If we forget that, we are in serious trouble.
Are we perfect?  Hardly!  Do we have a ways to go?  Definitely!  But we CANNOT forget who we are, what we have fought for, and the Things That Really Matter.

Stepping away, once again, form my soap box.  But reserving the right to get back up at a later time.


Charlotte said...

I could not agree with you more. Also, the problem with calling someone a "Nazi" or "Hitler" is that it effectively ends all rational discussion. I mean, where do you go after that? And I hate conceding a debate to someone just because they think dropping the H-bomb of name calling is appropriate.

azusmom said...