I stumbled over an article today (included at the end of my entry) and it prompted me to finally ask some questions… I’m definitely not trying to start a debate on this particular issue because I think we’ve already been down that road (the Ten Commandments, for example). I thought you might want to read this article and store it away somewhere though.
What I am really interested in discussing is the big picture issue of why is America so divided between the two parties and what are the causes?
Personally, I tend to gravitate more toward moderate to liberal political views. I am against abortion, an environmentalist, I am for gay marriage, I am a Catholic Christian who goes to church every week. That said, I would like your opinion on the whole (excuse the term) “right wing” way of thinking. If you support or understand the right wing way of thinking, I thought you might be able to weigh in and educate me and others.
I’ve been pondering this way of thinking ever since the last election and it bugs me. Some have mentioned that I might only need a slight shift in my views to understand “the right” or I might have to get my mind “reframed” to understand it all from their point of view. I personally subscribe to one view in my mind and that is the intentions of our founders that escaped persecution overseas and came to this land to form the perfect country.
The issue of the differences between the right and the left are very big picture issues but there is one in particular that I think forms the basis of all beliefs and that’s the separation of church and state. I believe this issue is the very basis of our ideologies and the issue that we build many other views upon… we all need to address this issue so we can further understand where each side is coming from, why we think this way, and most importantly… is it what our Founders intended.
My beliefs and the Founders’ beliefs:
My belief is very simple… that it’s our right to think, act, worship, and live our lives however we want as Americans. That’s what makes this country so great. We can be as moral or as immoral as we want just as long as we don’t break any laws provided by the United States of America. God will judge us in the end and that is his job in this whole argument.
The beliefs of the right:
The difference in the way of thinking though comes from “the right” where people believe that it’s their duty to somehow protect the entire country from what they believe is immoral based on their individual views, religion and ideology. They believe it is their right as Americans to stand up for what they believe in and try to mold the country into a society that conforms to what they believe is moral and just.
I believe there is a very fine line between these two ways of thinking and people often are confused or uneducated about which way is correct.
My belief is that the progressives protect OUR freedoms, the conservatives protect their beliefs. It’s that simple.
For example, I believe gay men and women should be able to have a legal union or marriage if the church allows it. Marriage has only been associated with love very recently in our history and even more recently with the church. Originally, it was a simple transaction between the bride’s father and the husband. It had nothing to do with the union of only a man and a woman. This way of thinking comes from recent Christian and other religious ideology.
My point in giving this example is that I believe it is more important to stand up for the rights of the individual making the choice, not for my own beliefs. I believe that protecting the ideas this country was founded upon is more important than my own beliefs. For example, I would probably be pretty disappointed if one of my boys came to me and said that he was gay and getting married. But that doesn’t make me want to support a law that says that they can’t get married or that my neighbor can’t. They are free adults and there is nothing that should limit their desire to commit to each other with a legal union. Of course, the people have spoken on that issue. Anyway…
It all comes down to the debate over whether it’s more important to stand up for YOUR opinion or it’s more important to fight for everyones right to have an opinion.
This is the basic way of thinking that I think we all need to understand. I need to know why some feel so strongly about protecting the rights this country has been built on and others feel so strongly that it’s their duty to tell others what they think is right. I hope you can see the difference.
I think this is where the line is drawn down the middle of our country and why so many people disagree on so many issues. I hope someone can help me understand the other side, but if you are already on the other side, maybe I’ve helped you reframe your own way of thinking in the process of trying to confirm my own.
“Moses Didn’t Write The Constitution” by Thom Hartmann
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show [www.thomhartmann.com]. His most recent books are The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, Unequal Protection, We The People, The Edison Gene, and What Would Jefferson Do?, in which parts of this article first appeared.