My Post-Election 2012 Stump Speech

(Disclaimer: This should not shock anyone that really knows me well.)

I’m here today to post as a very happy American.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I voted, again, for President Obama and that I’m pleased and relieved and all that sort of thing that he was re-elected on Tuesday.  
Let’s do a little factual posting first.  Mr. Obama was elected not only by a landslide in the Electoral College vote, but by a reasonable margin in the popular vote as well.  I’m pointing this out in order to remind those that think that it was some sort of vote counting conspiracy or nefarious business within the Electoral College that won him re-election, that it wasn’t.  It was simply that more people cast their vote for him than for his opponent.  Pure and simple.  Your candidate may not have been elected, but mine was elected fairly and according to the election process in our country.
Now then, here’s the part that may get me unfriended on Facebook, unfollowed on Twitter and possibly even disparagingly commented about here at the Lettuce.  Friends (and those that unfriend/unfollow), I can take it.  Do what you have to do, that’s what I’m doing here, and by hiding posts/people in my Facebook feed until after all of this rancor dies away a bit.
You may not realize it, but there are people out there in the world that have opinions that differ from yours.  There are people out there that worship a different Diety/Higher Power than you do.  There are people who eat meat, people who hate greyhound racing, and even people who believe with a strong conviction that if you think differently than they do you are, to quote my Facebook feed, morally inferior and/or corrupt.  The truth is, though, that there is NOTHING wrong with those people, they are just different.
I just wanted to post here to let everyone that reads the Lettuce (yeah, I know it’s like five of you, but still) know where I stand so that you can make an informed decision about how you and I proceed from this point rather than jumping to the conclusion that because I support President Obama that means I am made of Satan.  Because, to be fair, I’m really not.
I am a Democrat.  I am a Liberal Democrat.  I am in support of equal work and equal pay regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and anything else that might differentiate one person from another.  I am firmly in support of the notion that we are here on this earth (not this country, mind you, but the whole earth) to take care of each other and support each other.  I believe that support includes helping others any time that you can.  I believe that support includes sharing what you have with those that don’t.  I believe that if you work hard and live a good and fair life, you will not only succeed but have the means to help others succeed.
I think that health care is a basic right just like food and shelter.  While I am not so sure I agree that you should be taxed if you choose to go without health insurance, I’m very sure that sometimes the end justifies the means and that everyone should be able to go to their doctor when they need to go, and not just when they can afford to go.  I believe in Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.
Need to take a break to hit unfriend?  Because this is only going to get more personal and probably make some people more disgusted with me as a human being (again, another FB quote).
I believe that my religious beliefs are none of anyone’s business but my own.  I believe that whether or not I go to church is no one’s business but my own.  I do not believe that Go Make Of All Disciples means Get Every Pew In The Church Filled.  I believe that everyone is on the path to their own understanding of the Divine.  I believe that the Divine is one entity that has many faces.  I believe that it is not my place to judge because I don’t want anyone judging me.  I believe that in my religious tradition there are mandates such as “Do Unto Others” and “As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me” that are not just suggestions.  
Still there?
I believe that people are born gay/straight/lesbian/bi/whatever, and that is between them and the people with whom they share their lives.  Further, if someone finds another human being that they want to spend their life loving and supporting and being with, then they should have just as much legal right to do that as anyone else does.

I believe that this body my brain is sitting in right now is MINE, and that no one has the right to tell me what I can or can’t do with any working part of it.  Further, I believe that every other woman in the world has the same right to make decisions about her own body as I do.  Those decisions include the use of contraception and the ability to make decisions about pregnancy, especially in cases of incest, rape, and other trauma.

I believe that exclusion is a smoke screen for nefarious purpose, and that inclusion is the only way to be a true member of our global community.  And while we’re on the topic of the world community, I wanted to just point out that there is a HUGE difference between the “Israel” of Jewish tradition, mentioned in the Bible and other scripture and the Israel that exists as a country today.  One is a body of people, beloved of their God.  The other is a country that is just as guilty of terrorism as any of its neighbors in the middle east.  I believe that the US should seriously re-think its devotion to Israel.
I don’t think the US is the best nation on the planet.  We have all kinds of problems.  People are starving.  People are homeless.  Animals are abused.  Schools don’t have the money to educate students, let alone produce future leaders.  I think that if the US would stop trying to prove its imaginary superiority and would focus on its own people at home for a change, we might be healthier and happier.
I don’t think Republicans are evil.  I think that they are people with a differing opinion than mine.  I don’t think the Tea Party should have chosen that name because I believe that in doing so they are denigrating the original act of rebellion that took place in Boston.  Their issue isn’t lack of representation, it’s changing your mind after you elect representation and then crying that no one represents you.
I believe that President Obama was born a citizen of the United States just like I was.  I also believe that a great lot of the outcry against him is a smoke screen…I think it all boils down to the fact that our country was not ready for an African -American president. 
I have always been proud to be an American citizen and I still am.  My time living abroad gave me a new perspective on what that means and what it should mean, and that’s what I’m working to emulate.  The world is not laughing at all of us, Mr. Trump.  If the world is laughing, it’s at cartoonish buffoons who declare the end is nigh/gather your guns/prepare for the apocalypse because of the election of one man to power.
Huh, that just gave me a thought.  It reminded me of all the people that were threatened by another man who came to the table talking about love, inclusion, supporting each other, and sharing what we have with each other.  Interesting that some of the loudest voices claim allegiance to that man yet clearly have no understanding of his message.
Yeah, so that’s what it’s like inside my head these days.  Take this information and do with it as you will.

As seen on a church sign on my way to work today…

“Do not love the world.”

How disturbing is THAT? I know what they are getting at, being the good preacher’s daughter that I am…I’m sure it’s a reference to the passage in Romans that says to be of the world but not in the world. But do not LOVE the world?

What about “love your neighbor as yourself?” Or one of my favorites from friends that lived in the same little conservative town where I grew up: “hate the sin but not the sinner?” In my mind, “Do not love the world,” is equivalent to “Hate those that are not just like me,” and those of you that know me should know how well that idea would sit.

Our world is a miraculous, marvelous, terrifying, beautiful, horrible, interesting place and if we do not love it, embrace it, include all the people on the earth in it…then we do not deserve it. For the more fundamental Christians among us, how can you follow Christ’s missive to “go make of all disciples” unless you love them first? If you don’t love them, then who cares if they go to Heaven or Hell? For those in helping professions, how do you help someone if you don’t first love them…not love as in Barry White, chocolates, hearts, and flowers but love as in care for as a fellow human being? In my world, you can’t help if you can’t love.

If “Do not love the world,” means keep your eyes/focus/mind/heart on your concept of a reward after death, a Heaven or Nirvana or whatever your tradition recognizes, then I feel sad for you. The God that I believe in put us on the earth and made the earth for us to enjoy, not to shun and seclude from, keeping only to other like-minded believers. The God that I believe in is represented in every tree, every plant, every face of every person that comes into and out of my life. Why would I not love the world? God made the world.

So I say love the world. Love the people in the world. It’s a lot harder to destroy or wage war against your fellow humans when you love them, wouldn’t you say?

An Interesting Experience

I’ve been thinking for a week now that I’ve wanted to write about the experience of going to church with my parents over Father’s Day weekend, but I haven’t been able to form the murky thoughts into coherent sentences…until now. I have, at this point, 25 minutes to get this done, get dressed, and leave for work. Amazing what procrastination can do, hey?

My father is currently serving a small church in the mountains of northern Georgia as what is called in the UMC a “retirement appointment.” The demographics of the church are pretty homogenous…for example, when they called for the oldest and youngest fathers to stand, the youngest one was 50. It’s a wonderful place for my parents to serve, I think, because everyone is just like them, and the congregation loves them. Couldn’t ask for more than that.

I attended Sunday School with Mom and Dad, and Dad taught the class. The subject was the story in the Bible where God tells the faithful that they no longer should have divisions among the people. No more Jew vs. Gentile. All are welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven. Etc. Etc. Etc. The discussion stayed within those boundaries until one of the men in the class asked about the Muslims that hate us so much. I held my breath.

I worried in vain. My father admitted that he didn’t know that much about the Muslim faith, but that what he did know was that those people that are committing acts of terror under the banner of Islam are not mainstream. In fact, they aren’t even truly Muslim. He and I talked about that after church, and I told him about my experience getting to interpret for a leader in the Muslim faith in South Carolina to talk about his religion. As I understand it, devout Muslims don’t really even have an opinion about non-Muslims because it is not their place to judge. That is reserved for Allah, and wouldn’t even enter their minds to contemplate.

Now take what I’ve said there with a disclaimer because I was interpreting at the time and I typically remember about 50-75% of what I interpret. However, I do remember clearly the gentleman reiterating that it was not his place to question Allah, that Allah gave instruction to the Prophet and that is all he needs to know. While my western thinking mind can’t quite wrap itself around that kind of blind submission, there is something intriguing about it. Perhaps such obedience to the words of our High Holy Leader in Christianity, Jesus, would do a lot toward the eradication of the divisions within the church. Perhaps if some of our leaders really listened to the meaning behind the words in our Gospels, we wouldn’t see issues come up in the church like whether or not to permit homosexuals to join the church, let alone be clergy…we would be more apt to reach out to the marginalized in our communities and our world…we would be better at loving each other’s differences rather than trying to convert others to our way of thinking…we would understand our obligation to help those who need it, be they gays or Muslims… or even Republicans. 🙂

Thanks, Daddy, for getting me thinking, and for introducing me to your wonderfully accepting and loving congregation…and for remaining the model of tolerance and love that raised me to be the liberal-minded person I am today.