Recently, I've realized that we ..... at least I .... spend more time on thinking about the things that separate me, that divide me, from others than I do about what unites me with others. A friend recommended I read Glenn Beck's Common Sense. It arrived in the mail today, and I started at the back, with Thomas Paine's original common sense text.
Listen to this, from Thomas Paine's introduction to his famous little booklet:
- "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises, at first, a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."
Knowing that he was referring to the government at the time, and it's long abuses of it's subjects in the colonies, and knowing that he speaks of rebellion against that government, do not blind me to the possibilities that go far beyond those issues. With this one quotation, I could examine everything in my life ..... my thoughts about God, about my lifestyle choices, about love ..... about almost anything.
Sticking to government, for this post, I realized that all of my life I have carried a certain picture of what America is, of who Americans are. We make mistakes, we are sometimes brash. As a nation, we tend to be more prudish than the old countries of Europe, and as a people, we tend to be generous. Perhaps we don't have the old world 'culture' and are considered by some to be rude and 'ugly' Americans. Maybe we resemble the prostitute with the heart of gold.
But there is a heart of gold. That's the important thing. We've shed our blood around the world for the rights of others, the freedom of others. Our soldiers are buried in the foreign soil of many a country which would not have the freedom to criticize us were it not so. Our dollars are spread throughout the world, as well. Over and over, as other countries have been hit by disasters, American dollars have flown food and medical supplies bought with other American dollars to the relief of those in need. Our government has done that, but so have our churches, our organizations, our volunteers, our people, out of our own pockets.
This is the America I know and love and grew up in. Today, I see the change that slightly more than half the country voted for coming to pass. And it isn't a change I like, or voted for. In fact, it isn't even a change at all, it's a transformation. I don't like what America is becoming. I don't like a president going around that same world we have saved and aided and negotiated for, apologizing for being who we are. I don't like my government turning into a controlling faction in business, banking, and especially health care.
The congress which bounced over 12,000 checks and caused the closure of it's own bank is now going to run the banks the American people use? The government that allocated money for 3 months of a "cash for clunkers" program and ran out in 4 days is going to run the automobile companies? The same people who have run Amtrak, the post office and Veteran's Administration hospitals into the ground is going to be in charge of my health care? I don't think so. I vote no.
The long habit of thinking that the government is right, that it has good intentions, that it will take care of me ..... that has come to an end. The habit of not thinking those things are wrong has come to an end. Bring on the outcry. Bring on the tumult. And then let us reason together to find a better way.