Rights & Tolerance | December 25, 2004
An Essay in
My Christmas Newsletter
to the electoral map, the political pundits show how our nation
has become apparently stubbornly divided into more conservative,
Republican "Red" States -- from the South, through the
Midwest, and on into the Rocky Mountains -- and more liberal,
Democratic "Blue States" -- on the coasts and around the
Great Lakes. Moreover,
when looking at individual counties, we see urban islands of
blue in a rural sea of red.
of whether we believe the electronic voting machines (which gave
the edge to Red) or the election-day exit polls (which gave the
edge to Blue), the population -- our nation -- is
pretty much divided right on down the middle.
for Al Qaeda, not for Uncle Sam. With the stated goal of "the end of the U.S. as united
states", Osama Bin Laden fancies himself some sort of "diamond cutter"
-- trying to strike just the right blow at
just the right time to cleave the U.S. into two (or more)
pieces. But he is just a butcher...and, cutting his own throat,
not a very good one at that.
is there any "common ground" left in the U.S.?
Are these United States still united? Or
should Abe Lincoln have let the South secede, and spared a
as I see it (through admittedly very "Blue" eyes), the Blue
and the Red are just the latest answers to a philosophical (not
really political) question that has dogged human beings for as
long as beings have been human. To most folks in the Blue States, the way to approach
life is with reason -- follow your head -- but to most
folks in the Red States, the way to approach life is with faith
-- follow your heart. Of
course, most folks in Blue States have faith, one way or
another; and most folks in Red States are reasonable, one way or
another. But these
are the tendencies that get blown all out of proportion in the
heat of political campaigns (a complaint as old as democracy
reminds me of the flag. Blue
symbolizes truth and justice, which the pragmatists and
idealists who founded this nation came to know about and write
about as part of the Age of Reason. Red symbolizes courage and conviction, which have
sustained patriots in faithful defense of truth and
through history, America has been served by both reason
red and blue, by themselves, are inherently unstable. It is a physiological fact of life that the human eye
cannot focus on red and blue at the same time; the colors
actually seem to vibrate and clash. It is no accident that on the dress uniform of a United
States Marine (God bless every one!) there is red trim on
the navy blue jacket and sky blue trousers: Looking at that, you cannot help but see action and
the flag of our truly United States is not, of course, just red
and blue: We must never forget the white. Whether it's the white stars on the field of blue or the
white stripes intermingled with those of red, white on the flag
symbolizes other, arguably higher concepts: Purity and sincerity.
Truth or faith is meaningless if it is not sincere.
the opposite of sincerity is hypocrisy -- one of the
greatest of all sins according to Jesus Christ and contrary to
the teachings of every other faith and philosophy ever
recognized or devised by human soul or mind.
long as we Americans of every stripe are sincere in our beliefs
and are respectful of others who are sincere in theirs -- regardless of whether those beliefs are in agreement with our
own or not -- then Osama Bin Laden will have failed in his goal
and every American who has ever loved this country will have
succeeded in the goal most famously stated by Abraham Lincoln: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought
forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether
that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can
long endure...we here highly resolve that these dead [at
Gettysburg, on 9/11, or in conflicts before or since] shall not
have died in vain...that government of the people, by the
people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
with his or her own faith, reason, and purity of purpose, we are
the United States.
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