Another Christmas is here, and in the tradition of the holidays, Random Spotter has enjoyed time with family and friends. One of the brightest spots of the season is a general attitude of joy and acceptance of others. If only we could bottle these positive emotions for liberal use during the remainder of the year. Let’s hope.
In reflection of the season, I’ve recently become more concerned about our increasingly anti-religious perspective, especially as this relates to Christmas. It is an undeniable fact that there are many non-Christians who celebrate Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or nothing at all. We share the country with them. But sharing a homeland with someone of different faiths or beliefs does not necessitate that we remove every source of potential conflict or disagreement. Why should we deny a heritage of government inspired by the Christian principles of its founders? Why should holidays be re-branded or watered down in denial of their purpose? To celebrate holidays, especially one whose message is of peace and joy, is not to alienate all who do not do the same. Rather, it is an affirmation of an identity and a heritage.
Religious beliefs, while they make us different in some ways, should not be denied. They are elements that make us unique individuals. The real problem, though most would deny them to their dying day, is that Christian principles are under attack. Virtually anything of Christian origin or flavor is deemed oppressive and intolerant by people who will go out of their way to legitimize faiths and beliefs of questionable character. Why? I have no answer, other than it is the trend of the times to vilify the predominant culture, faith, and ideology. This, too, is a unique aspect of current times in the USA. Too bad. Everything may not be perfect here, but hating who we are and where we come from is a very unproductive self-loathing that can only lead to more division among us.
There’s an old saying among recovering alcoholics in AA. They state that when they were in the throes of their illness, they would identify “out” of the community of AA rather than identifying with the groups of addicts. When they finally accept their disease, they are able to see the commonalities among them that make them a community and needy of each other. It seems to me that our leaders and our media keep encouraging us to identify out of our history and doctrine. I don’t understand this mindset in light of the class warfare this message prompts and the malaise prompted by perpetually negative points of view in the press.
In the spirit of Christmas, I wish us all peace in our hearts and minds. I am not blind to the need for change, but change can be undertaken positively and respectfully. Believers and unbelievers should be able to agree on that.
Random Spotter recently had the opportunity to watch the new movie “Lincoln” that Steven Spielberg directed and produced. As I watched, a million thoughts raced through my mind, including an observation that the founding fathers created an indisputable foundation for the defeat of slavery in their definition of equality. Once slaves were recognized as people, their ultimate emancipation was a foregone conclusion because of the language of “all men are created equal” and” they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” in the Declaration of Independence.
After further reflection, I reached a point of discomfort as I came to the conclusion that equality is a term that has lost its true meaning in the political rhetoric of the last 100 years. Our partisan polarization of issues has bastardized the issue of equality. In fact, the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution sought to create a nation that limited government powers and interference in the private and public activities of its citizens. However, Government in the past century has ballooned in size and scope of regulation, and in its efforts to solve social and economic ills, has achieved a level of taxation and oppression that anyone with libertarian sensibilities can’t help but reject.
Perhaps more importantly, our political vocabulary now defines equality as parity of pay, benefits, economic achievement, recognition, and employment. Our American society now demands an equal distribution of everything of value. The problem with this interpretation is that it misrepresents equality’s significance to our founding fathers, and it’s not a workable definition in practice. Equality has never meant anything other than opportunity. The founding fathers envisioned a nation in which all had the opportunity to follow their ambitions and to seek their own paths free from government intrusion. Instead, we’ve created a culture of entitlement that is evident wherever there is any imbalance, as seen on battles over tax rates, federal services, college admissions and employment screening, and anything else that could be tied to personal achievement.
Yes, it’s still difficult for politicians and the media to be honest about individual success. I doubt that they don’t believe that hard work deserves reward. But, I do believe that emotional stories of need and want touch the average person (including politicians and journalists) more intensely than logical expositions about the value of rewards commensurate with creativity, ingenuity, and hard effort. I’m sure the early founders would disagree with our new definition of equality because, no matter how appealing the idea of equal wealth may seem, they recognized that achievement is not a collective endeavor but an individual one. Government’s role is to protect the process, not guarantee the result.