Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Author of Liberty

as i've observed the current political campaign leading up to the november elections in the us, i've been reminded repeatedly of the american belief in our "exceptionalism."  this idea that we have been given a special blessing and mission from God that sets us apart from every other nation runs deep in the us psyche and has been a part of our national identity for a very long time.  it was widespread even before the formal founding of the country.

i listen to politicians going on about our "exceptionalism," suggesting that those of us who reject the notion are somehow not true "americans."  this belief that we are ordained by God to lead the rest of the world, to impose our national philosophy, to embody the imperialist hegemony that asserts our national right over all other countries' rights is so offensive and insulting to both us citizens and the citizens of other nations.  the assertion of american exceptionalism has come to be entwined with the christian right's set of beliefs about the nature of God and the political philosophy of the american right wing to such an extent that evangelical american christianity and the politics of the republican party have largely merged into one entity.

this is truly frightening to me, because it is leading to intolerance of any other position.  we see in the "tea party" movement an insistence that, since "we" (the tea party) are right, all who disagree must necessarily be wrong.  there can be no middle ground in their view of governance; to compromise or give another point-of-view any credence is to abandon one's principles in their narrow, dogmatic philosophy.  such a view is a prescription for governmental gridlock unless the adherents of the extreme right gain an unchallenged majority in the legislative bodies and courts of the nation.  that this is a possibility is even more frightening than the current situation.

all of us are so much the same, whether we are british, malaysian, saudi, or american; we all aspire to have the freedom to express ourselves and associate freely, to believe and love as we are led, to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  there is no american monopoly of such ideals, and God loves every person of every nation in exactly the same way.  my prayer today is that we americans will come to realize that we've been given no "exceptional" status from on high and that all of us will work together to spread love and compassion, not intolerance and a selfishness that says, "i've got mine--you're on your own."  shalom

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