Friday, August 03, 2012

Fear and Loathing in America

  Recently I purchased the 4 DVD set of Billy Jack movies. For those of you younger generations the name and character of "Billy Jack" may not phase you but for my generation the character symbolized the essence of what freedom means as an American. Billy Jack was cool and hip. He wanted to do his own thing and encouraged you to do your own thing as well. He fought prejudice at all levels of society but he hated violence and only used violence as a means of self-defense or for justice when the system broke down. The films spanned the sixties and seventies and dealt with the very real issues America faced at the time - racial and sexual prejudices, political corruption, the stigma of a questionable war and societies intolerance of any movement deemed radical by society. Sound familiar? As I watched those movies I became aware of how much the world we live in today is the same as the world of that time. Only now the vile rhetoric and violence seems much more instantaneous due to the internet, smart phones and satellite TV.
  Today in America we spread vicious cartoons and photos via Facebook of issues we each deem to be a radical departure from what we believe the world should be. The America founded in the 1700's on the basis of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness no longer exists. We are labeled liberal or conservative and to each group the other group is not to be tolerated and their voice is to be shut down and silenced. Tolerance is no longer a bastion of a free American democracy and has become not just a dirty word but a filthy word. We no longer have the assurance of freedom of speech in America. The liberal left hatefully assault the conservative right for wanting to be fiscally responsible in government, and for being intolerant of sexual ideologies while the right also eschews intolerance of the left for the liberals abasement of biblical principles and their desire to obliterate the border between the US and Mexico.
  No longer can an American voice his or her opinion or belief without suffering persecution from some faction who possesses an opposing view. Each day I listen and watch the news broadcasts, I read posts on Facebook and listen when I'm out in public and every day I get sick to my stomach because of the hate and intolerance we as Americans have for each other. A watched a video of a man berating a Chick-fil-A worker and it made me nauseous. The next day I hear he was fired from his job for his actions. Why? Does he not have the right to say what he wishes to? I certainly don't agree with his action or what he said but he has the right to say it no matter how stupid or foolish it made him seem. Kudos to the young lady he berated however, she showed great poise and professionalism under fire.
  A writer at a Florida paper had his blog removed from the internet supposedly because of the position he takes against conservatives who do not believe in gay marriage. If that is truly the reason for his blogs removal then the paper should be ashamed of itself. I believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman but I do not have the right to force my beliefs on others who don't feel the same and they should not have the right to belittle me for my stand. It is alright to believe in something different, it should be our strength as a nation that we can work together for common goals despite our differences. Sadly though we as a nation have degenerated into a morass of undignified, hateful bullies and it has to stop or we are doomed to follow the paths of the great world empires of history and vanish. It is time we stood up as a nation and love our neighbor. If we find ourselves on opposite sides of the same fence we need to still show good grace and poise and not hate and spite. The answer is to love. It is not an easy answer and to many it is clich√© but that does not negate it as the solution.

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