Patrick Henry said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Campaigns are fought over ideas. The debate is healthy; the animosity is not.
America’s founders came to this land for religious freedom. They were loyal to the Crown but they eventually revolted against taxation without representation. They had no input into the British government’s confiscation of their wealth. Fed up, they rebelled. The Boston Tea Party marked a turning point. The revolt took hold and became the War for Independence against Great Britain. Then our forefathers had to establish their own government to protect our citizens against lawlessness and invaders.
Any revolt against oppression, any march for freedom, does little good if it doesn’t move from being voices marching in the streets to putting forth leaders who grasp what needs to be done. A shift must take place. The institutions and structures of society have to be moved. The nation’s culture and values have to be forced to stop feeding disintegration, to quit fighting progress, and made to empower people so they can prosper.
Our individual rights are precious. So are our responsibilities! In America, we get the government we deserve. Power flows from the people to the leaders they elect. We loan our elected leaders some of our personal authority as a people, as a sovereign nation. We do this temporarily, periodically, hoping they will do their best for a few years.
Government on all levels has to be leveraged to affect righteousness, peace and happiness for all. As citizens, we have to do our part: keep the covenant, honor God, and raise our kids. If we don’t do these things, the result is chaos. Dissent has to end after the votes are counted, or else fear takes hold. I don’t want an equality of poverty, but an equal chance at opportunity. Give each other a chance. Freedom means the freedom to try, perhaps only to fail, but it’s never risk-free.
Winners need to be humble in victory. Losers have to charitable in defeat. The purpose of campaigning for office is bigger than our own agenda – it is for the welfare of all and the destiny of our children. We are drawing a roadmap into tomorrow not yet knowing where it will end. Along the way, convictions are noble but hatred is shameful.
As long as I am an American, I will defend the freedom of those who disagree with me. But my respect for my opponents does not go so far as to permit vitriol, vile words, or slander. No one has the right to spew venomous words at immigrants, ethnic groups, or people whose lifestyles are not like our own.
No one has the right to intimidate, threaten, belittle or curse at someone whose skin color is different than theirs; whose language is different, whose customs or religion seems strange, or whose politics is not ours. People are made in God’s image and they deserve respect.
I had a conversation with a single man who travels most of the time due to his business. He told me about a nice lady he met who had three children but was divorced. He was attracted to her. While dating her, he soon discovered a deal-breaker. He broke it off. She believed the state was responsible for raising her kids. In her teenage kids, he witnessed horrendous irresponsibility and great disrespect. They were lazy human beings who expected someone else to take care of them for life. Why? An ignorant mother trusted the government to do her job. You’d think she’d wake up and smell the un-flushed toilets. Nothing can replace a good parent; not the school, the church, the city, county, state or even the federal government.
Nothing Barack Obama did and not anything Donald Trump might do can change your soul or make you into a better person. You are a free moral agent. You are responsible for who you are! The Democratic Party or the Republican Party does not have the power to make anyone in America poor or rich; right or wrong; good or bad. Neither Obama nor Trump can raise your kids, do your job, build your community, grow your church, or get your kids to school. Only you can do that.
You choose your life by what you believe and how you behave. You choose your friends, your hopes, and your attitude. You have the power to rise above your limitations, to love your neighbor, to help the helpless, and to chart your own course into your own dream.
Here in my city since the election, some vile words were painted on a building. The racial attacks were supposedly coming from a Trump supporter. This is wrong. I have to admit it, I did not place my Trump bumper sticker on my automobile. I live in a mostly liberal city. I was fearful that my car would be vandalized by liberal radicals or progressive zealots. It is not the Trump supporters rioting and burning cars or throwing bottles at police. There is a fear on both sides. This is not right.
There is never ever any excuse for hatred or bigotry. I defend free speech but not hatred, cursing a person due to race, religion, or lifestyle. Every human is made in the image of God and deserves respect. As Patrick Henry once said, “I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
I will defend your freedom of speech or to vote or your choice, but not if it is used to slander people. Nor will I defend your vitriolic animosity hurled at those who voted differently than you, from either party. I will not give anyone a pass for racism or venomous words intended to shame or demean.
No! Never! Such hate-filled people deserve no voice and no respect but only shame heaped back upon their own heads.
Americans are free to disagree but not to assault anyone’s human dignity or liberty. I am a white male Christian conservative but I love my black, Indian, Latino, Muslim or gay brothers or sisters – all of whom are fellow Americans who should feel safe in their own neighborhoods. My faith is only free when my fellow citizens are free to choose. The command of our Lord to “Love my neighbor” doesn’t have any qualifications attached.
Partisan politics and ethnic cleansing: neither have a place in the hearts of those in the kingdom of my Savior. America, you are better than this.
Ron Wood 11-11-2016