for reasons unknown, macklemore and madonna’s maudlin marriage ‘same love’ (but sadly not same key) grammy ‘spectacular spectacular‘ made me think of ‘america the beautiful‘. the latter’s lyrics speak of “grace” and “brotherhood” and of “self control” and of “liberty in law” and of “liberating strife” and of loving “mercy more than life” and of “nobleness” and of a “patriot dream that sees beyond the years”…and all of that “from sea to shining sea”.
admittedly, the poetry is belied by a history in which we often forgot, ignored, misapplied, twisted, or only paid only lip service to those ideals. but whether we live up to them or not, i believe they have been, from even before the penning of the declaration’s “self-evident” truths, part of america’s DNA. she was born that way.
the sine non qua of the american spirit is the submission of personal preference and belief to the principles of freedom and equality. when you vote to deny someone freedom or equality, you are not being american. instead, you are abusing your rights as an american.
conversely, it is the epitome of american character when a citizen-cum-champion votes heartily in favor of freedom and equality for his fellow man, no matter his creed or color or any number of other oft-estranging categorizations. “no freedom till we’re equal.” that is why it is not intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance. and that’s why i love ‘same love’.
to the extent that we have failed in forming a more perfect union, i believe that we can blame fear. fear in the human heart is fed by many ideas, notions that we cannot expect to soon erase from the minds of men. what i believe is possible, however, is to convince americans to love freedom and equality more than they hate whatever it is that they fear.
to the conservative mind, which is claimed to value stability and fear change, please consider (and perhaps take solace in) construing freedom as your foundation and equality as your tradition. to the liberal mind, which is alleged to value fairness and fear injustice, i don’t have a congruent suggestion. perhaps, though, an admonishment: in your quest for fairness, please fight against a culture of entitlement and please don’t diminish personal responsibility.
to minds of all stripes, consider letting go of thinking in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – that is to say, let’s stop ‘should-ing’ on each other because that is when walls go up. instead, let’s explore what works and what doesn’t. let’s seek to create a shared vision of the world that we want to live in, and then discuss the things that must be done to create it. want to live in peace? then we must live and and let live.
i do not believe in the existence of natural rights; the only rights that exist are the ones that we create. by our own definition, rights are not earned…if they were, we would just call them rewards. citizenship or privileges may come with responsibilities, but there are no responsibilities associated with basic rights. this is not to say that consequence does not exist. in fact, consequence, whether natural or legislated, is the only thing that can and must stand between freedom and chaos. in consequence i trust. perhaps it is in god that you trust. either way, let’s trust. if we trust, we don’t have to fear what happens when we stand by our nation’s commitment to freedom and equality (and justice)…for ALL.
to be an american is to embrace grace…to actively, proudly and passionately bestow upon every fellow man and woman the very same “free and unmerited favor” that we ostensibly enjoy from the god under which our nation claims to exist. render to god what you will, and render to caesar what is caesar’s. america is rooted in and asks for ’same love’. please grant her that. wholeheartedly. from sea to shining sea.