Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Where Did We Go Wrong?

Veteran’s Day has just past, it makes me wonder about those who gave their lives in service to our country. Before his crucifixion, Christ told his disciples that there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for his friends (John 15:13). I think this verse is quite serving for our heroes.

Then I thought of some our first heroes; the ones who gave their lives for the birth of our free and democratic society. What would they think our country now? Would they approve of the way that conservatives have hijacked the democracy, turning it and our “free market” into a truly fascist regime where citizens are no longer in control of?
Democracy - Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.

Fascism - A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

Now be perfectly honest with yourself. Which of these more accurately describes our current government? If you say “Democracy,” I strongly recommend that you try getting your info on current events from any other source than Fox News and then join the rest of us in a place I like to call reality!

It’s true. We have elections. But who do we get to vote for… people we want, or people that special interest groups, lobbyists, and big business want?

Who has more (any) influence on our elected officials… us, or special interest groups, lobbyists, and big business?

Who determines our national agenda… us, or special interest groups, lobbyists, and big business?

How come we entered into a war with virtually no debate? Is it because conservatives have suppressed all opposition through fear, terror, and belligerent nationalism?

What happens to any kind of Congressional oversight on anything the administration does? They are met with “executive privilege” (something that is only supposed to be used for national security). They are met with a president and vice president who believe they are above the law and constitution. This is a president that uses fear, torture, and war to usurp power. He would like us to give up our rights and freedoms in turn for his protection. How does this not describe a dictator?
Before I start on a rampage on Christian conservatives, I feel it necessary to articulate the fact that I hold no contempt or ill-will to Christians in general. I myself am a Roman Catholic Christian, and I strongly feel that most Christians really want to do what is right not just for themselves, but others as well… to truly be good disciples of Christ. I just feel that many Christians in America have been led astray by “false-prophets” who have hijacked religion in our country and have turned it into hate rather than love… people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Ted Haggard (just to name a few)… people who have used the good will and trust of Christians to gain political authority and power for their own personal agendas and profit. These people have damaged Christianity in our country so badly that it hardly resembles Christianity anymore. So, my anger for this is directed to those leaders who have and still misuse Christianity, and even their followers who are too stubborn to think for themselves and come to the realization that have been led so far off course from Christ’s teachings.

I have nothing but pity for the highly pervasive amount of ignorance that many conservative hypocrites have who claim to be “moral” Christians. I honestly don’t know what morals and values that they think are “Christian.” Perhaps these “Christians” don’t realize that there is more to the Bible than just the Old Testament… there is something uniquely Christian in the Bible called the Gospels. These are the teachings and values of Christ… the most important part of the Christian Bible.

I know of a lot of so-called “moral” Christians who do nothing but quote the Old Testament. While I agree that the Bible is holy scripture, most of it is written by flawed humans who themselves are not without sin and bias. Yes, they had divine influence, but nonetheless, they are flawed human beings. That being said, the gospels are certainly more vital for true Christian values as it has the teachings from Christ, God in human form. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to quote or live by anything in the Bible, it’s going to be the actual word of Christ, God… and maybe not so much on prophets who or more or less flawed middle men who interpret God’s word. I’d personally rather live by the teachings that God himself in human form taught.

Take health care… conservatives are against universal health care. They believe that only the privileged should have the right to good health; the poor and middle class that can’t afford health care for themselves and their children are just plain out of luck.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Matthew 19:23,24) “Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:25) “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25) This teaching is so important that it is in three of the four gospels.

Many of these privileged people always talk about “self responsibility.” They think that people deserve their lot in life. If you’re rich, it is because you are a “responsible” person who worked hard and deserve your wealth; if you’re poor, it’s because you lack responsibility and are too lazy to work. They don’t understand the nature of socioeconomics at work in our society.

When you can devote a great deal of time to your child’s development, specifically with respect to their education, your child is much more likely to take school work more seriously and actually get something out of their education. It even helps when you can send your child to a private school where they can get more one on one time with teachers. Higher education is also great when the student doesn’t have to worry about the cost because their parents can pay for it.

Now take a poor family (or even middle class.) Many of these parents work more than one job because one job simply isn’t enough to pay for housing, food, clothes, and even some kind of health care. When parents work more than one job, they don’t get the opportunity to spend as much time as privileged people do with their children. The kids don’t receive the same parental involvement with their education… not because their parents don’t care, but because their parents are working overtime to shelter, feed, and clothe their family. So for the few of these children who do still manage excel in school, what’s the likelihood that they will not have to work to put themselves through college… thus taking their focus off of higher education and on to their job that’s supporting their life.

This is obviously just the tip of the iceberg on some of the serious socioeconomic issues that widen the divide between the rich and the poor. I always thought that “family values” was a major issue for the so-called “moral” Christians. Perhaps keeping families together isn’t a moral value… I forgot, the so-called “moral” Christians believe that “family values” is hating homosexuals… I must have missed Christ’s condemnation of gays somewhere in the gospel, and how gays are destroying families. By the way, why is it that the most conservative parts of the country have the highest divorce rates, pre-marital sex rates, and abortion rates? Hypocrites?

As a Christian, one of the morals I learned is that nothing belongs to us. Not even wealth, no matter how much you feel you earned it. Everything belongs to God. We are simply stewards of His creation (the world and everything in it), which brings me to another value that many so-called “moral” Christians miss out on: the environment and immigration.

What is virtuous about polluting our planet? What is moral about placing corporate monetary gain over the survival of the planet? What is Christian about destroying God’s creation? It seems that conservatives would rather hate Al Gore than admit that we’re destroying the planet.

Why are conservatives so scared of immigrants? Most of these conservatives are wasps, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, none of which is indigenous to this part of the world. Most Americans are descendants of immigrants; people who came to the New World and brutally and immorally forced out the prior occupants, the Native Americans. Now that these immigrants have settled down for several generations, they somehow feel justified in preventing other immigrants from coming over. How is this double standard moral? Again, we are but stewards of God’s creation, not owners! How is it moral to have such hatred for immigrants?

Today George W. Bush said about the Congress: “Their majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it is acting like a teenager with a new credit card.” How is it moral to spend some $1.2 TRILLION on the president’s unnecessary war, but we can’t spend $50 billion on children’s health care, on rebuilding New Orleans and hurricane disaster areas, and education. How is it moral to spend so much money on death, but deny money on life? This unnecessary war is going to cost EACH American family of four approximately $21,000! How is this a “family value?”

My last gospel reference is directed to the so-called “moral” Christians, the Republican Party, the vice president, president: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27,28)

It just seems to me that we have allowed our great country, the world’s beacon of freedom, hope, and democracy, to become a fascist and dangerous world empire. I can’t believe that this is what our founding fathers intended for us… I can’t believe that this is what the many heroic service men and women have given their lives to protect. Where did we go wrong? How do we begin the recovery process back to democracy? Is that even possible anymore?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Superman Retires

This is a pretty funny video that I saw today at the new Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz downtown.