The Religion of Nationalism Poses As Christianity And Trump Runs With It

Nationalism is a type of religion.  How do I know?  Because growing up, during my Wednesday night kids class at church (and, I think at my Christian school), we would pledge to the American flag, the Christian flag, and, I think, the Bible.  This tells me that the adults in charge put each of these items on the same level of importance.

Fast-forward to today, and what do we see?  (Many) Christian and/or Conservative Americans becoming upset when people of other religions come into their country and ask for equal and respectful treatment.  These same (Christian and/or Conservative) people are choosing political positions and supporting candidates on the sole basis that they have claimed to share the same faith and ideologies, despite many examples indicating the opposite.  Conservative Americans are upset when anyone questions something ingrained in America’s way of life.

I paid attention in school.  I know that the Constitution of the United States of America protects certain rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The right to freedom of religion means all religions are welcome and should experience no infringement of rights for when, where, and how they worship.  The right to free speech/expression means people can speak out about issues they face without fear of repercussions from the “powers that be” who may disagree.  The “right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievance” means people can protest when there is oppression and other unethical practices occurring that harm any part of the population.  However, with each day that passes, the more people (especially the president) forget that these rights are protected.  We do not live in a (recognized) dictatorship, therefore, anyone who has an issue can act in such a way, as protected by law, to bring attention to it.

Regarding the recent issue of football players not responding as expected to the national anthem and pledge of allegiance by taking a knee, raising a fist, or simply not putting one’s hand over one’s heart as a peaceful protest to communicate to those watching that there are major equality and racial issues in the United States, and that the country does not protect all of its people equally, is a justified and constitutionally protected action.  To condemn or attack those who exercise their constitutional rights with the ferocity that many are showing is to say these individuals’ perspectives, opinions, and beliefs are invalid simply because others disagree.

This brings me to the issue of Donald Trump’s speech yesterday, during which he said, regarding NFL players who “disrespect” the flag, that team owners should respond with, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!”  One, that is an unethical response from the President of the United States of America, who has sworn to uphold the Constitution—therefore, he has broken his oath.  Furthermore, what he is suggesting is illegal.  You cannot constitutionally fire somebody because they choose, as an independent human being, to not say or do something voluntary regarding their place of citizenship.

Therefore, to everyone who is up in arms if they feel their country is disrespected, consider the many ways the country (from the top down) is disrespecting millions of its residents and citizens.  It is profiting from the fear, pain, and death of minority people.  You may not, personally, feel the oppression, inequality, and injustice, but if you step outside of your bubble of comfort, you will see things that you can’t unsee.  Once that happens, you have a decision to make: knowingly stand by while people are abused and oppressed by the system you blindly support, or knowingly step up to advocate for change to make this place truly a safe country for all who are born here, immigrate here, or visit here.

P.S. Join thousands (maybe millions) and boycott the NFL.

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Was the Women’s March Truly for All Women?

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Some time has passed.  Let’s talk about The Women’s March and some connecting issues:

I was stunned by the people who said they could not support the Women’s March because of the pro-choice stance—not because of my views on abortion, but because I had not heard dissent for that issue (except for the feminist pro-life group’s removal from the list of event partners) and had not even considered it as a key component of the peaceful protests taking place on January 21, 2017.  However, since reading the first person’s perspective on the topic, it has been running through my head, touching on arguments for and against and trying to reconcile it all—as well as great frustration that one issue could cause people to throw out an entire cause.

When I first heard about the planned marches, I was excited about women (and others) joining together to protest a president who speaks of women with disdain, openly brags about his affairs, and even jokes about grabbing a woman by her “pussy”—none of which is acceptable for a human being to do, let alone a leader.  Additionally, the protests would draw attention to and advocate against the perpetuation of inequality in the United States towards women, LGBTQIA, and minority races and groups, as well as promoting healthcare access, stopping police violence, improving the justice system and incarceration flaws, and much more.

As I believe in the importance of education prior to establishing an opinion, I read many views from women about the protests, articles, and the official statement of Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles from The Women’s March.  I weighed my own (evolving) views on the issues of anti- and pro- abortion, but still my frustration grew.

On both sides there is rigidity emanating from certain pockets of perspectives: on the left some tout open-mindedness to ideologies until they bump into one on which they disagree and then they bash them.  On the right, some hold so tightly to their views that they sacrifice even possibly changing someone’s perspective because of their dogmatic approach.  Both groups sabotage their own cause.

Truthfully, I understood the frustration certain women felt who support many (if not all other) causes outlined by the Women’s March on Washington with the exception of pro-choice ideologies—feeling shunned by a force that speaks to inclusivity and diversity because they disagreed on one issue, rather than being welcomed despite the subject of disagreement, is disheartening.  However, I disagree with the decision to remove support from the protests based on a difference of opinion on the matter of abortion.

Bridges can never be built if people constantly choose offense.  This is what happens all too frequently—one side does something and the other side chooses to react by boycotting and solidifying their perspective even more (does Target at Christmastime ring a bell?).  This is a dangerous practice because it does not allow people to grow and change over time, nor does it allow people to live in peace and respect even while disagreeing.

Imagine if all those who said, “I can’t support this because of those marching who are pro-choice” or “Pro-life women were excluded from the event” had chosen to go to a protest, post support on social media, or some other outward show DESPITE the decision made by some committee somewhere—what might have happened?  Perhaps those who do actually have it out for pro-life people might have recognized who was choosing the high road.  Maybe conversations could have taken place causing a formerly rigid pro-life supporter to take a more understanding approach to the plight in which some women find themselves, causing them to look to abortion.  The possibilities are endless.

But, instead, women started stating that the millions marching didn’t represent them.  They claimed they are over feminism.  They said they couldn’t support any of it because of one (already legal) issue.

The cause—those marches—was about so much more than whether or not abortion is right.  This cause was to support women and humans everywhere against oppression, inequality, and injustice.  It’s about supporting each other rather than tearing each other down.  The people who claim they are over feminism can pretend everything is “okay” because of the millions of women who have fought for decades for their rights.

Women everywhere are facing the possibility of their affordable and accessible birth control being taken away because of a womanizing president.  Black and brown people are looking at an even more empowered police force and greater potential for violence because of a white, privileged man sitting in the White House. Immigrants are fearing deportation from a country whose Statue of Liberty welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.  There are so many issues that affect the sanctity and preservation of life beyond the uterus.  In fact, consider how all these other causes will impact the lives of the unborn once they enter the world as contributing human beings.

In the wake of a monumental and beautiful outpouring of support around the country and the world, I am thankful for the millions who came out to show their support for the causes listed by the Women’s March on Washington committee.  I’m thrilled that so many were able to participate.  For those who chose to rise above disagreements on certain issues, I applaud you.  For those who felt they couldn’t get behind a cause that included pro-choice ideologies—I encourage you to consider seeking ways you can support this cause in a capacity that doesn’t compromise your beliefs so that greater good can be achieved.

Building bridges takes effort—choosing to love and show understanding for fellow humans is a greater calling than self-righteous indignation—which only builds walls.  And we have enough walls.

Be the Support You Wish You Had

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Women’s Equality Day was August 26th.  Timehop reminded me of previous posts I’d made about the day, commemorating the progress made when women gained the right to vote (although, black women faced curtailing of said freedom for more than 40 years after).

This year, I made a point to celebrate the women around me, wishing them a “Happy Women’s Equality Day”, talking about women’s issues and the challenges faced within different cultures (as well as the work taking place to make things better), and making a focused effort to support women—because tearing down my fellow women only worsens the situation.

Various organizations I follow on social media recognized the day with posts, articles, pictures, and memes, but my newsfeeds were mostly devoid of personal posts supporting or acknowledging the day.  Instead, I saw many celebrating National Dog Day with pictures of their favorite pure bred pups and mutts (your newsfeeds could look different than mine).

My mind is struggling to comprehend the focus on dogs when, during that week, I’d read headlines about a Jewish sect mandating it is wrong for women to receive a college education, five girls dying from female genital mutilation, the lack of education for black women about the importance of breastfeeding their children, and Muslim women being forced to publically remove articles of clothing on beaches in France.

Where is our outrage at the unjust treatment of an entire gender because they don’t have a penis?  Where is the righteous indignation over the patriarchal superiority that leads to mandates about women driving, appropriate attire, career paths, home life, and basic human dignity?

I grew up believing that feminism was wrong, because in my mind, feminism meant “man hatred”.  It was not until I studied abroad that I was introduced to differing perspectives—that feminism was not synonymous with hating men.

I quickly noticed a change in my mindset: I did not judge certain things that previously would have shocked me (like a woman saying she doesn’t want to ever have children), my personal goals and desires in life started to evolve (I, who started planning her wedding when she was three years old, began questioning if I ever wanted to marry), and I wanted to stand up for and with other women as they navigated their challenges as women in a primarily male-dominant world.

Two years ago I visited the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC to see a series of photographs from eleven female National Geographic photographers.  One of the images and accompanying stories that still stands out in my mind was of a young teenager who was a child-bride, married to a man many years her senior, but who had managed to obtain a divorce.  My emotions were mixed as I viewed this girl who had experienced and overcome so much more than the average, American teenager.  I felt sorrow for the horrors to which she had been subjected, but, more than sorrow, I felt great joy that she stood there, victorious in her ability to leave a bad union (I won’t call it a marriage), and continue forward in her life.

In the United States, women face discrimination and prejudices; they are constantly critiqued for being too ambitious, not ambitious enough, wearing too much make up, not wearing enough, being too assertive, being too passive—the criticisms are never ending.

Supporting women’s equality takes many shapes.  It means supporting the woman who views relationship gender roles differently than you, because she is entitled to do what works for her.  It means understanding the impact of other social justice issues on the fight for women’s equality (such as the lack of education among black women in regards to breast feeding).  It’s starting conversations that discuss international women’s issues—like the United States being one of three countries to not mandate paid maternity leave.

Advocates are working hard, daily, to make change.  Books are written, organizations founded, and “on the ground” steps taken to be a voice for the voiceless.  However, without continuing to grow the awareness of this dire, world-wide need, how can we hope to continue growth?

If you scroll through my Instagram, you’ll see pictures of my cats.  I think they are adorable.  However, when so many people post about their pets and not about changing the world for women, it causes me to pause and ponder, what are our priorities and for how long will women allow themselves to be treated as second-rate human beings?

BE the support you want to receive!