When the fight of the day was prayer in school, I had two questions. Do you want all people to be able to pray any prayer they want? And, how can anyone keep one person from praying when he or she wants to do so?
The things is, people want what they want. The ability for all to have that “right” is not even in the picture. Those people who fought to have prayer in public schools wanted others to allow them to publicly prayer in their own Christian way. There was no thought that a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, or even an atheist might want the microphone to broadcast out over the PA system a prayer their own agenda or belief. Actually, that was exactly the thought - they feared that an atheist could make them stop praying. Those fighting for prayer wanted what they wanted and to hell with the rest. The others didn’t exist or, if they did, no one fighting for this “right” cared. No one should have the right to be an atheist. (point, not my thought)
It’s the same thing about guns. Gun rights advocates cite the “right” to carry a weapon. The advocates do not necessarily mean “They” get to carry a gun. “They” are the reason why others want to carry guns, to protect their homes and families – the individuals’ right to carry a gun.
The word “right” has many definitions: True, correct, morally good, justifiable, acceptable. It can also mean “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.” It is an entitlement, a privilege, an advantage, a birthright. It is not something we earn. It is simply something that is accorded to us by the fact that we are who we are.
According to the Declaration of Independence, the rights of a citizen are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t know about y’all, but I see these rights violated every single day.
In the Bill of Rights, Amendment I is the reason why formal prayer in a public school was banned. Because the prayers were always God or Jesus centric, it violated the “rights” of those who believed differently. By its public nature into a closed environment, it gave the appearance of forcing people to pray a certain way.
Amendment I is also the reason why we can protest publicly in a peaceful manner when we disagree with others.
Amendment II. Infamous Amendment II. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
A simple definition of militia according to Miriam Webster is “a group of people who are not part of the armed forces of a country but are trained like soldiers”
I could be wrong, but this doesn’t sound to me as though every idiot in the country who wants to walk around with an automatic or assault rifle strapped across their chests should be able to do so. In the first place, they aren’t part of the “militia”. They are not trained like soldiers (assumption on my part). Nor have all of the gun-toters ever been a part of the armed forces of this or any other country.
Therefore, since they are not likely to be called to active duty, even in the event that there is a national catastrophe, they have no “right” to keep or bear arms. But that is not really the point of this diatribe. Well, maybe it’s not actually a “diatribe”…it’s not a bitter attack. It is simply pointing out the fact that individual interests always overplay the ideals. The Bill of Rights are an ideal.
Most of the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights have been violated at some point, some of them often. Why is no one up in arms about “speedy trials” or “probably cause”?
What about this one? “No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Can we define “eminent domain”? Or the idea that those who have means ($$$) rarely spend much time in jail even when they commit big crimes while those without means spend time in jail for petty theft. Can we define being killed by a police officer for a broken taillight? Or for selling music outside of a convenience store?
Law is like Holy Scripture. Not in the Holy part, but in that those ideas/words that pertain to MY belief system, I use against others or for myself. Those parts that do not apply to me or to my grievances, well, I ignore. (I/me used to express the point)
People want what they want and they don’t give a flying fig what anyone else wants.
As a society, we do not really care about others whose rights are violated. We don’t even recognize the idea that the rights of others are violated daily. For if it is true that one citizen of the United States is accorded certain unalienable rights by virtue of his/her citizenry, then, it is also true that every citizen of the United States is accorded those rights also. And that, my friends, means that regardless of whether a person is White or Black, Latinx or Native, male or female, cis-gender or trans-gender, gay or straight, Greek or Jew, first generation or tenth generation, and the many unnamed, ALL have the right to life (how many have died because they do not fit limited ideologies), liberty (how many continue to be trapped in a system that considers them ‘less than’), or the pursuit of happiness (check out the suicide rate among Native American young people).
We are not a land of the free. And certainly, there are a whole lot of cowards out there, many spewing a false bravado that simply aggravates their fear.
There are a bunch of trigger-happy, fear-filled bigots in this world and one is not different from the rest. There is no difference in those who are considered terrorists because they instill fear and pandemonium as they kill multiple people for a cause and those who walk around with their assault rifles terrorizing little children or adults because they believe it to be their right. It doesn’t matter that their intentions are, to them, altruistic. Those people detonating bombs believe they are doing it for good reasons. They are terrorists. They terrify people.
But there are consequences to actions, even if one is a police officer with the “law” justifying his poor decisions and over reactions. He shoots a man point blank in the chest while the man is pinned down not by one person but several, well, that seems a bit excessive to me. Why the hell did the police officer even un-holster his gun? IF the man had been able to overcome the fact that he was pinned down, an officer should never un-holster his/her gun if he/she does not intend to shoot it. Since he did do just that, I’m guessing he fully intended to shoot that man pinned so close to the car on one side and by other officers regardless of the fact that the victim couldn’t move much less resist.
A police officer shoots a man in the arm, not once or twice but several times, while he is belted in the car, then watches the guy bleed to death with his gun drawn because he is afraid the belted in, bleeding man is gonna jump out and attack him? While the victim’s girlfriend is filming the entire thing?
Police officers are sworn to protect and serve the people of our communities. Too many are just scared humans with people’s lives in their hands and when these instances happen – which these instances happen far too often – they should suffer the consequences of their wrong actions.
To those citizens who want to carry a loaded weapon into a grocery store or a library or a church or simply walking down the street because you think you may need it to protect yourself or others? Buddy. I’m telling you that you need some counseling if you are that damn scared. I don't need your protection. And if you want to carry that rifle, it would be good to understand that all those people who look different than you and those who scare you senseless – those people have that same right. And it also has to be known that as a person carrying a weapon, you can be blamed for a shooting.
My rights are your rights. My rights extend to the exact point where your rights are being violated or infringed upon. And the same is true for you. Once you cross a line, your rights no longer apply. It is not a game of ‘my rights trump your rights’. (jeez…can’t even use that word any more without bigotry, selfishness, and individualism jumping off the page at me.) One’s rights do not outdo another’s rights. Rights are rights. Either we all have them or none of us do.
As for prayer, there is no one in the world who can keep me from praying. I can pray aloud. I can pray silently. I'm praying now. I pray for those who are soaked with the fetid stench of fear.
Fear will always be with us regardless of how many times Jesus told us “Do not fear.” We are humans. We like control. Few things are within our control. Some people use money power to control. Some people use body strength. Some people use authority. Some people use all of the above. Some people use guns. When our control is threatened, we become controlled by fear.
There are few things in this world that we, individually or as a group of humans, can control. But we can learn that fear is not a healthy way to live. Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to supreme violations of civil rights.
There is one thing I know well. Fear. I allowed fear to keep me from living into the dreams I had when I was younger. Now, I am wiser. I know that fear alerts me to the idea that there is something I have not done, something I have not tried, something that I need to walk towards or into, or, most importantly, something that I need to overcome.
Fear lives with us, in us. Fear in itself is not the problem. What we do with the fear is the big issue. Do we allow it to own us, define us? Or do we use it as a tool to walk on into life in spite of the fear?
Fear allows us to see the crossroads in our lives. It offers us a chance to make a decision: do we continue on the road we are on, or do we realize that we have an opportunity to change, to be transformed?
I choose transformation.