“So, how do we show America what’s really behind the curtain? Below are nine simple principles. If you believe in at least seven of them, then we have something in common.”I decided to take an honest shot at the nine principals, scoring three Yes, two Yes with conditions, and four No. To keep Beck from wanting to water board my UN-‘Murikan ass in Gitmo, I suppose I should start praying to the flag while listening to every Toby Keith album.
Here are the nine principals, along with my agreement or rebuttal:
1. America is good. - NO.
It can be dangerous to label a person, nation, or group simply as “good” or “evil.” Good is as good does. Only deeds should be judged as good or evil. Former President Bush tripling funds to combat AIDS in Africa is an example of a good action. Bush lying to invade Iraq and subsequently causing the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people is an example of an evil action. Most of the wrong done in the world has come from one nation or group of people labeling themselves as “good” and finding somebody different than them to label “evil.” It is the quickest path to discrimination, oppression, and genocide.
2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life. - NO.
This has absolutely nothing to do with America or government. America was founded as a free nation – a nation of liberty. You cannot be both a nation of freedom and liberty and a theocracy. Religion is a personal choice that has no place in government.
If you want to see what happens when fundamentalist religion gets mixed up with politics look to further than the Taliban. To quote founding father Thomas Jefferson, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God."
3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday. - YES.
4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government. - YES. BUT…
The government has no place in deciding who is a family, or who can marry. At the time President Obama was born, it would have been illegal for his parents to have been wed in 16 of the states. In 1967 bigots said “Protect the sanctity of marriage: No interracial marriage.” In 2009 bigots of the same ilk say “Protect the sanctity of marriage: No gay marriage.” If you believe #4 is true, you must demand the government stop meddling in personal freedoms and grant the same civil rights to all.
5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it. - NO.
The law is not nor ever should be the decider of what is moral. Our understanding of law and morality evolve over time, and will continue to evolve. Slavery, condoned by even the Bible, was an important institution in our country from before its founding until the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865. Who today would condemn those, like Harriet Tubman, who broke the law to assist escaped slaves before 1865? Martin Luther King spent many a night in prison for breaking laws that today we find offensive and revolting.
In fact, it was from a jail cell in Birmingham that King wrote to his critics, defending his civil disobedience and open defiance of the law, saying, “One may ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”
6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results. - YES. BUT…
We must grand these rights to all people, not simply those who live within some invisible lines arbitrarily drawn on a map. Human rights are for all people, and it is hypocritical and selfish to say only Americans have these rights. People lived in North America long before there ever was a United States, and I’m sure people will inhabit North America long after the United States is nothing but an ancient relic – the lore of history books.
The day I found inner peace was the day I stopped considering myself an American citizen, and started considering myself a neighbor, and brother, to all of humanity – and pledging to support all people to their right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable. - NO.
Call me a socialist, if you must, but at least call me a Biblical socialist. For that is where I have drawn my guidance on charity and social justice. The truth is we must pay taxes to fund civilization. Civilization should include roads, police, prisons, and fire fighters. It should include transit, arts, basic housing, food, and clothing, hospitals, and health care. Without adequate health care, for example, many live a shortened life - or a life in pain - in direct opposition to principal #6. Health care is a human right.
Taxes should be about equal sacrifice, not equal percentage. If you don’t like funding civilization, you can join your ilk of Jim Jones or David Koresh in a remote compound somewhere. A nation is only as rich as its poorest citizens. I used to be a libertarian ("anarchy for the rich"), until I found a heart and lost the greed.
As Martin Luther King said, "A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion. - YES.
9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me. - YES.
To quote V for Vendetta, People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.