Freedom is Painful

This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document.

The Cast of 1776 from The Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn, NJ in August 2003.

There is an awful lot of debate now, particularly in the recent weeks that deal with the ongoing hate and prejudice surrounding men and women of color. There is a desire to expose our painful past and remove any public link to any degree of pride with some of the characters that have been involved with past events. Some, I dare say most, are justified. While protesting today’s injustices we must try to keep some kind of perspective. This nation had a painful birth. It was in the name of freedom from England’s tyranny that we sought to have a separation from them as a governing body. At the same time, we had a massive contradiction when talking about oppression but having a practice of enslaving human beings.

When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, he examined his own practices and conscience and intended to have this document indict the King of England for creating this practice and seeking to have it ended with the Independence of the United States. This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document. In the interest of the unanimous vote, the passage was removed.

Independence Hall with the “mythical” scoreboard that kept the audience aware of the score.

“The right to be free comes from nature.” This quote was from Thomas Jefferson. Ben Franklin encouraged Jefferson to leave out the entire passage relating to slavery for the sake of the vote to pass. Samuel Adams said to Ben Franklin, “If we give in on this issue, there will be trouble a hundred years hence; posterity will never forgive us.”

In 2003, I was in a play called 1776. This play and movie chronicle the proposal, debate and finally approval of American Independence. It was a painful process. No country had ever broken off from the mother country before. The quotes listed above were in the play but since Sam Adams was not the main character of the play, the line was given to John Adams character and shortened leaving out the “hundred years hence” line because the authors believed that it would be too unbelievable because it actually happened.

Now here we are…over 200 years hence. We are now “posterity”. We are trying to decide whether to “forgive” the founding fathers. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson have been vilified over recent days because they are now being identified as being in favor of slavery. They were living in a time when it was already part of a “way of life”. If they never debated it in the process of becoming a “free” nation, then I would agree that they needed to be judged a little harsher. They also became traitors to England, a crime punishable by death, in order to become a new nation. They were brave, honorable and yes, they risked the judgement of “posterity” by compromising their ideals for the sake of starting a new nation.

Statues of confederate soldiers and leaders that fought to continue the practice of slavery should be removed. Hate and prejudice will remain but as a nation we need to condemn the painful time. We have to acknowledge that as a nation worthy of the name United States, we have to come together. Our history is our history.

Turner Classic Movies will be running the movie version of 1776 starring William Daniels on Saturday. Maybe we should encourage everyone to watch it. Aside from the songs, which probably didn’t happen, this depicts what actually happened. It may give a new perspective to those who would want to demonize all of our founding fathers without putting this into context.

The Parable of the Sower…and the “Bad Seed”

All indications were that this was good seed…but then again…how do I really know?  The truth is that I don’t.  This could be very bad seed.  This could be the kind of seed that wouldn’t grow in any condition.  I truly don’t know.

So I bought some wild flower seed from Home Depot last year.  I just wanted some flowers for my front yard.  I kept looking out my basement window to see weeds.  It was depressing.  When I passed the bag of Wild Flower Seeds, I thought…this would be much better.  I went home, pulled the weeds up, and raked the area a little to loosen the soil and planted the seed.  Then, I put some water on it.  Day after day when I passed the area, I anxiously waited for the sprouting of little flower plants.  I knew just where I had put the seed.  I watched the little brown specks just sit there.  Meanwhile, around the edges appeared the same old plants that I had pulled out.  Weeds had returned.

Now the bag said that it contained flower seeds.  There was a picture of what the resulting flowers would look like.  All indications were that this was good seed…but then again…how do I really know?  The truth is that I don’t.  This could be very bad seed.  This could be the kind of seed that wouldn’t grow in any condition.  I truly don’t know.

I am a practicing Christian.  I offer up a Bible reference because it speaks to me and maybe some others.  In the Parable of the Sower, we are given an absolute that “the Sower had good seed”.  He set out into the world and scattered his seed everywhere.  He didn’t discriminate.  He spread his “good seed” everywhere.  In this scenario we get the description of the failures of the seed.  Some fell on dry ground where it withered for lack of water.  Some fell in among the weeds and were choked out.  Some fell along rocks and along the footpath where they were trampled.  Then again…some fell on good soil.

Recently a person posted a question about school shootings and other mass shootings for that matter.  I commented and one of the contributing factors to the current crisis was something that he was involved in and “never shot up a school”.  Many more chimed in and soon we had a “free for all” of opinions with some people resorting to insults but mostly people offered up evidence of themselves not being a shooter and engaging in these activities that were indicated by me.  People have a tendency to protect what they hold dear and for some it is violent video games and guns.  It is very true that the combination of the two aren’t a predictor of mass killings.  It is also true that 40 years ago, they didn’t exist.  (You should have seen what was considered a state of the art graphics card in the original PC).  As a matter of fact, we had pong…and it was just as addictive.

Today we have a vastly different set of circumstances.  We don’t have the FCC restricting what we can watch.  We clamor for the right to see and do anything that we want in the name of personal liberty.  We can read, write and publish anything that we want.  It can be for the building up of the person and society or it could tear it down.  There are no barriers.  Anyone can access anything and cultivate any thought and create just the right soil for seed to grow…good or bad.  It takes just the right combination of things to grow a plant or create a monster.  Remember, sometimes the packaging makes it very difficult to determine what type of seed you have.

Now, there is very little that we can do about free speech and free exchange of ideas.  While this is also very scary sometimes, if we eliminate it entirely we truly let the bad guys win.  The video games which I still fail to appreciate in any form are here to stay as long as there is a market for them.  It is true that by percentage the vast majority of players don’t do harm to anyone by playing them…even hard core players.  This is a component of the “soil” that can help the bad seed grow.  So if these two issues aren’t going to change then we as a country have to be ready to throw some rocks into the fertile soil that creates the monster.

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 people mostly school children under the age of 10.   He used an automatic weapon.  The very same day in China a knife wielding man attacked 22 school children the same age as Sandy Hook and one adult and no one died.  In both cases…bad seed.  The difference was access to the automatic weapon.

The monster exists in a fallen world.  As a Christian, I believe this to be true.  I don’t believe that it means that we are to throw up our hands and say “oh well”.  The task ahead is a daunting one but we need to pursue it now more than ever because the soil is ready and the seed is out there.  Let’s look at the very first phrase in the 2nd amendment that states “a well regulated militia, being necessary to a free state,” and start by regulating…real regulating.

The question is can we do this and keep those gun enthusiasts who like to shoot happy and free to shoot?  I believe we can.  People who love shooting should be able to shoot…targets (which sadly are always shaped like people).  Having a weapon of war, one that should be restricted to the battlefield is not having a “well regulated militia” if that weapon is among a civilian population and kept in the home because of the access given to family members who possess neither the maturity or the responsibility needed to manage them, we will continue to have these “bad seed” incidents and countless more people will die needlessly.

Respectfully submitted.  Feel free to comment here.

Building Walls

The great unifying force that is our president is making good on a campaign promise.  He’s going to build that wall. Yes, he is going to keep “those people” out of the United States of America, a country founded by immigrants.

It seems ironic that the very people who founded this country would have a problem with immigrants.  It also seems that our president who wants to bring this country together is going to do so by offending groups of people who are identified by their race.  It seems that he is also offending women as evidenced by the marches this past weekend.

These “appearances” to me are the biggest problem with his leadership.  Some people have a medical condition where they can’t stop “saying” what they might be “thinking”.  Communication on a global stage means watching what you say…particularly in this  connected world.