Is it simply the expression of an innate human condition? That is, that we seemingly can’t easily get along with one another and when we don’t we try to deny the nation’s freedoms to those with whom we disagree.
The latest dust-up in Oregon has to do with Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s decision not to go to federal court to defend the ballot measure to prevent marital status between persons of the same sex. But it gets back to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and whether Oregonians will abide by it, reference being made to Amendment 1, Freedom of Religion, and its corollary, freedom from religion, and decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Maybe it’s due to a failure by our public schools to adequately educate our youth. Maybe it’s the result of poor parenting or no parenting at all. Whatever the cause, it has to do with the many who call themselves Americans yet stand for and bear allegiance to that which was taught them during their upbringing years; too often, apparently, taking precedence over the U.S. Constitution and subsequent passage of laws by democratic procedures.
We must remember when conducting business in this nation that the freedoms we have were fought by war to establish while people died to keep and sustain them. They were organized into a document, signed in 1787 by the founding fathers, those persons who were among the earliest advocates of human rights, rule of law, human dignity and social justice. Further, they’ve been the guiding principles and values that have been case-tested and practice-survived for more than 225 years.
There is not only the gay marriage issue having to do with the test of our freedoms for all but also discrimination against persons of darker skin color. We have a president whose mother was a white American and father from Africa’s Kenya. Yet, no proposal of his for consideration by the U.S. Congress is adopted by members of the Republican Party there, it’s commonly concluded, due to his “wrong” pigmentation, even though this human being is unusually bright, a significant contributor to our society, a faithful husband and a good father.
The coming-out of persons whose sexual orientation is different from the majority is a more recent phenomenon as they hid themselves and were afraid for their very lives to openly announce and publicly display their sexual preference. The hiding away has changed but not the hostility and violence perpetrated by those who believe America’s freedoms should be denied to these Americans.
Is it not a matter of action whose time has come to make a greater effort that the one that has been made to date to end these forms of bias, prejudice, discrimination and hatefulness? That which makes up so much of the way we treat each other in this time when we are alive and can do good work for the present and found a universal future based on peace and good will here at home. Can we not show by our example, a world that seems to be coming apart, that we can respect each other, regardless of our personal religious, economic, social rather than saying what we believe in but not practicing it?
Beyond the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights we have the opportunity to practice what may be best identified as the social contract. Most of us learn as children what it means to be civil and how to co-exist and get along in a society with rules of conduct where one person’s fist is not allowed at will to meet another person’s nose any more than yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre—where there is no fire—makes inherent good sense, even if for no other reason.
When we act out with verbal comments and physical violence, denying freedom for LGBTs, persons of darker color, the right to choose, sane gun control restrictions and a whole host of other reasons for conducting ourselves, then we run the risk of losing all our freedoms. Chipping away at our freedoms one by one can soon find us a mirror image of Germany’s Weimar Republic, circa 1933. It’s advised that we change our far-too-often negative ways before it is too late.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)