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Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Merriam-Webster defines offend as: “to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done”.  Over the past few months, you saw stories of Christmas being “banned” from a variety of public places – Christmas trees being re-labeled as Holiday trees, and many stores and businesses afraid to even say Merry Christmas.  All of this in the name of being sensitive to others – not to offend people.  What is it specifically about Christmas that hurts someone, makes someone feel angry, or upsets them?  Does the celebration or observance of the “birth” of a historical figure upset you, hurt you, make you feel angry?  Is it the deeper meaning of what this observance stands for – that a large number of people believe this historical figure is the Son of God?  Merriam-Webster goes on to further define offend as:  “to be unpleasant to (someone or something)”.  Could all the decorations that have become a tradition of Christmas be unpleasant?  Or could it be this alternative meaning: “to do wrong : to be against what people believe is acceptable or proper”.  I’m certain this version might apply – that someone who does not believe in what Christmas stands for finds all of this celebrating unacceptable or improper.

One of the fabulous things about America is our freedom – our ability to live our lives as we choose, believe what we want to.  OK – but there is some framework around this freedom – the laws that a free society agrees upon to keep order – like not stealing , killing, etc.  For the most part, these laws follow from a set of morals passed on by tradition.  Our Bill of Rights outlines what our founding fathers found important enough, creating this document to support our freedom.  Freedom allows us to believe in and celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing.  I choose to be a Christian (Episcopalian) and celebrate Christmas (and other religious “feast” days).  I celebrate in private or with a congregation – and I may decorate my home with lights in December.  I do this because I live in a country that provides me the  freedom to do so.  I do NOT do this to hurt, anger, or upset anyone.  If someone is hurt, angered, or upset by this, then they have chosen to be upset – yes, chosen to be.  Now – if you  attempt to ban some celebration because someone is choosing to be offended – then you are interfering in my right to free expression of religion – you are suppressing freedom!

Oh – but what about separation of Church and state – you can’t celebrate Christmas in a public school – or in a public square…. Lawyers and legal scholars will argue what our first amendment really intended – and the lawyer who can explain this in the most elegant manner might convince us this really means you really shouldn’t pray before a local government meeting, or the ten commandments shouldn’t be posted in a school – but if you read the words:

From Wikipedia:  “The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.”

Prohibits the making of any law – either respecting an establishment of religion – or – impeding the free exercise of religion.  How does a prayer said before a government meeting violate this?  What law was made?  The founding fathers did not want a repeat of the control the Church of England had over the government.  It also provides all of us the right to be free to exercise our religious beliefs.

America – as a melting pot of many cultures should rise above the fray and embrace ALL of the richness we as a country are blessed with.  I personally enjoy learning about other cultures, religions and the traditions that accompany them.  I am not offended by someone who embraces a different belief – it expands me as a human being to learn about other traditions and beliefs – it does not offend me.  It also doesn’t change what I believe. I imagine that many people who are either for or against Christmas celebrations even understand how these traditions came about – about the origins of Christmas celebrations – or even about how our current celebrations were “created” in America.  For the curious – here’s a link to a relatively brief history lesson on Christmas.

I am offended when someone purposefully tries to hurt me – physically –  in the name of their religion or belief, as we all should be.  However,  people who are quick to choose being “offended” by a Christmas song should instead, try this, (Merriam-Webster helps out again): Respect, “to act in a way which shows that you are aware of (someone’s rights, wishes, etc.)”  Let’s respect others beliefs – but not at the sacrifice of our own.  Let us embrace the richness of our diversity and celebrate our freedom.  Let us share our cultures and traditions – not to change, but to understand.  Let us be open and learn – especially with our children – and not shut them out – don’t make understanding others beliefs taboo.

Let’s make 2014 the year of Respect!

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What has happened to America’s values?  Why do we have such divisive political campaigns, why do Union members physically attack other Americans who have different views, why is there so much hate in people’s hearts.  I know the love is there though – I see it when America is tested – after 9/11, after the shootings at Virginia Tech, and again now after Newtown.  Americans are a good lot, but for some reason, we keep it hidden.  I feel part of what this country has lost is an identity – Political Correctness has led us to be oversensitive of our beliefs.  We have become afraid to just be Americans – as it may offend someone…  Constructive debate is healthy, having fun is healthy, winning is a good thing, competition drives excellence.  So – we have little league teams that don’t count the score, we rarely have actual debates where complex issues are argued in more than just sound bites, we vilify the successful.  More importantly – we have failed each other when we are not well – mentally. Our evening entertainment on most networks has turned into nothing but trash, our electronic world is filled with ultra realistic killing games.  It’s not all bad news, there are shining examples of virtuous, tasteful, and clever entertainment.  What has happened to our value system, our identity as an exceptional nation.  I thought I might take the Boy Scout Law and identify what America needs to do to get back on track…

Trustworthy – Always seek and speak the truth, the whole truth – don’t hide the truth, or act unless the whole truth is understood.

Loyal – Stand up for your friends and allies – but being loyal goes two ways – don’t let you friends and allies down.

Helpful – Help those who can not help themselves – or need a hand to lift them back up, be generous with that help.

Friendly – Embrace others, their culture, their uniqueness, while sharing your own.

Courteous – Open a door for a stranger, thank someone, say please.

Kind – Care for each other, including our animal friends.

Obedient – Abide by the laws, but also be disciplined in your values.

Cheerful – Laugh, smile, help others to laugh and enjoy life.

Thrifty – Use your resources wisely – Money, time, talent.

Brave – Stand up for your values, don’t be afraid to take up the gauntlet and do what needs to be done.

Clean – Keep yourself clean – physically and mentally.  Keep your environment clean.

Reverent – Have faith – Have humility.  While this is a personal choice, I chose to believe in God.

What if we all would abide by this law – we seem bent on throwing out the 10 Commandments.  America needs to stand up and again establish an identity – through how we conduct our foreign affairs, with our own resources, with how we entertain and enjoy life.  All American should consider this simple law and take up the responsibility to follow it.  America needs to allow itself to dream again – to invent the future, a bright future.

So, are you with US?

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Well, it’s over – the incessant negative ads, the robo-calls, the debates and all of the spin.  All said and done, Barack Obama pulled off a win by playing a politically savvy ground game.  I’m disappointed  to say the least, as I really believe our country just got it wrong.  It seems as though the country was just to lazy to make the tough choice and move in a direction where hard decisions and hard work would bring back America’s greatness.  In essence, the country was left in a condition on November 7th it was in on November 5th.  A divided congress and a community organizer in control.  I guess that was just the easy choice?  Barack took the job of Commander-in-Chief four years ago with little to no experience in business, foreign policy, or leadership.  Four years later, well, you can see what lack of experience gives you as the days and weeks after the election bear the fruit of our choice.  The hidden scandals, the Benghazi story of the week, the mess in Egypt and the Middle East, and it goes on and on…

Do I sound bitter?  Maybe, but my biggest disappointment of all is the missed opportunity America had within its grasp to have a genuine leader in the White House.  Was Mitt the most slick politician? The most skillful debater? Was he the one with the all the best solutions?  I think we could agree the answers to those questions are probably a no.  The thing is, Mitt has been successful as a businessman, a governor, a leader, and a great man.  He’s quietly helped many people in his life, through his time and talents, and yes, his success as a businessman.  America lost a shot at having someone with an exemplary character actual lead this nation to become something it hasn’t been for a while.  Our experiment with socialism has pushed us closer to a country of entitlements, high taxes, and a business suffocating government bent on redistributing wealth at the expense of our country’s greatness.

What would have been so bad if we had tried, even just for four years, to have a true leader help drive us back towards greatness?  America lost on November 6th.  Mitt is truly a great father, husband, and leader who cared passionately for this country – who wanted a shot at helping America turn around – and who would have worked hard to make it happen.  America lost.

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Separation of Church and State – let’s get real!  Atheists Raging War on Soldiers’ Memorial is something that is absolutely an insane waste of time, money, and should be utterly condemned.  This one just totally sets me off, I’m not sure I can even write about it and be calm and rational.  91 years ago, the community (probably a few Christians on the town council, or volunteers at the fire house) of Woonsocket, MA, wanted to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers of their community who fought in previous wars.  They erected a monument with good faith of heart that they thought would honor those who died, including three brothers who were killed in WWI.  They erected this monument with no malice towards anyone, with no pretense to offend or even convert anyone – just to honor the dead in a respectful manner.  91 years later, an atheist, decides to sue the town to remove the cross that is part of the memorial – and not only that, but demands they remove an image of an angel and “the Firefighter’s Prayer” from the Woonsocket Fire Department’s website. What makes this even more outrageous is that a group which is heavily funded is attacking this small town knowing damn well the town can’t fight back as it will bankrupt Woonsocket.

When this monument was erected, I can only assume that the good towns people of Woonsocket wanted to honor their fallen, and they felt comfortable building the monument as they did.  This monument then has captured a time, culture, belief of a group of people and is a mark in time, a mark in history.  No one today, has the right to change the decisions made 91 years ago about how to respect their loved ones.  The Constitution of the United States has never meant that we should have freedom from religion – the first amendment was to protect America’s religious freedom.  To allow all faiths and non-faiths as it may be to choose their belief system.  This in no way shape or form means images of a specific religion must be removed, even from state or federal property, just because this image is outside the belief system of another person. There may be other legitimate reasons, but not because one person complained.

This country was founded on religious freedom, the ability to choose to believe or not believe.  Different belief systems can be a good thing – it can help people open their minds to how other people see things.  Many religions do have symbols that represent their faith, and it’s part of their practices to use these symbols.  Even outside of religious beliefs, many cultures have different practices, and if we are truly freedom minded people, these symbols and cultural norms must be tolerated and even embraced.  An atheist who demands a cross be removed from a monument erected 91 years ago is trampling on the free expression of a people who simply wanted to respectfully honor their dead at that moment in time, and is now ingrained as a part of the history of that small town – and that’s all it is.  Tearing it down would be a complete and utter disrespect of those people who chose to erect it.  Leaving it in place as is captures a town’s moment in  time, and how it felt and dealt with tragedy.  How can this cross, representing a deity an atheist doesn’t believe exists, trample on his first amendment rights?  It almost seems completely opposite – he is trying to impose his belief system through a “demand (law)” which is what the first amendment protects us from!

God bless America!

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One thing that REALLY gets to me is when the news media, or opposing political party blatantly takes a comment completely out of context. Case in point is the recent speech by Mitt Romney where at one point, the words “I like to fire people” were uttered. So a number of opponents, as well as the news media, decided to make this a main stream story. So if you listened to the words used in the context they were intended, the discussion was about service provider choices – having a choice of insurance providers so you can make a choice to get rid of one that may not be serving your needs.  But the sound bite is trimmed to take on whatever meaning someone wants – even polar opposite to what was actually said.  Here’s the article from Fox News: Romney Defends ‘Fire People’ Remark, Says Comments Taken Out of Context

In this sound bite, 142 character, text message world we live in, people actually buy into this garbage.  They hear someone saying that Mitt likes to fire people and they believe it.  Why has politics become so rampant with dishonest representation of facts?  Someone, please tell me!!  The sad thing is that this kind of banter ends up demonizing a candidate making it difficult for people to take what they say seriously.  This country is hurting in many ways because of this type of rhetoric by both parties.  I encourage people to take the time and listen, become more familiar with the truth – read deeply into the stories – put the words in the proper context and stop believing what the “spinners” are telling you to believe because at best its only a half-truth and more likely a complete lie or grotesque distortion of the truth.  Let’s have honest discussions about where each person wants to take our country – not twist each word into an alternate truth which has no basis of fact.  The key is careful, deliberate, listening – with an open mind.  People in this country have lost the ability to listen and decide,  resorting to ignoring and distorting.

Wake up America and take time to listen and learn.  Think for yourself – that’s what freedom is all about!

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This post is being “penned” on Veteran’s Day, which also coincides this year with 11-11-11 (not really that big a deal people!).  I wanted to say thanks to my Dad, who served in the Navy during WWII, my father-in-law who served in the Navy for more than 20 years protecting our country, and all those who served in the armed forces and their families.

Why, as a peace-loving Nation, do we find ourselves in the midst of wars?  I talked a bit yesterday about freedom – and freedom is precisely why at times, war is a necessity.  There are ideologies in this world, that unfortunately what to destroy our freedom.  An ideology that outwardly wants to eliminate us.  We saw this on 9/11, and countless other times and places around the world as terrorism fueled by this fanatical culture attacked peace-loving people.  As Americans, we have an obligation to protect our freedom by taking a stand against those that want to do us or our way of life harm.  Yes, freedom has a responsibility that goes with it – the responsibility to protect it – and protect it at all costs.  America and Freedom are synonymous – we must protect both.

So why do we need to fight for others who are not free?  Two reasons –   First, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”  The opening to our Deceleration of Independence, our deceleration of freedom, says ALL are created equal, and if we believed in this so much as to create a nation around it, then we must consider this does apply to ALL.  We can’t stand by and let those who suffer and outwardly seek our help to continue being oppressed.  War is only the absolute last option – we, as a generous and wealthy nation have many options to choose to help the oppressed.  Second, oppressive ideologies can spread like cancer and must be contained or eliminated as they emerge.  Again, war is the last option, but we always should be prepared to make a stand for those who can not make a stand on their own.

So please thank a Veteran, and thank those who currently serve – because they have volunteered to stand up for freedom, to protect our natural given rights, at tremendous risk, and at tremendous sacrifice.  The men and women who have served and are serving tonight deserve our gratitude, our respect, our love, and our prayers.  Because of them, we get to sleep well tonight, we get to watch football tomorrow, we get to sit in a park in NYC and protest, we got to cast our votes earlier this week, we get to hug our children and spouse, we get to sit in front of a laptop and blog, we get to live in a country where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are OUR unalienable rights, endowed by God.

Thank you Veterans, and God Bless…

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Some food for thought – the difference between being in control vs under control.  When I think about what America has stood for over it’s relatively short existence, it’s been freedom.  What does freedom really mean?  Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care> d : easefacility <spoke the language with freedome : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedomf : improper familiarity g : boldness of conception or execution h : unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>

I would define freedom as being “In Control”.  In control of your life, your being, your everything.  Being in control of my life means I also choose not to be a victim – I don’t place blame on others for the demise of my being.  When you begin to blame others, especially those who really have little impact on how you live your life, you choose to become a victim – no longer in control.  At the point you become the victim, you release yourself from responsibility of actions you have taken, or could have taken.  This line of thought continues – blame others, then demand restitution.  Wall Street is rich, they are greedy, so that’s why I’m broke – take money away from them and give it to me!  Let’s get the government to punish these greedy bastards.  So look at what’s happening here – instead of being in control, these people now want others to be under control (i.e. not free) because they were successful in building wealth.  What they fail to realize is that they are now also under control – all the hand outs allow the government to constrain (definition a) your choices – do this, don’t do that or we’ll take away what we are giving you.  All this just leads to socialism – big government, controlling your life, and in turn, controlling how you live (see definition b).

It’s easy, and it’s lazy to always seek blame for everything that occurs in your life;  fail a class – teachers fault; show up late to work – some slow poke driver; relationship falls apart – it was their fault…and on and on.  The problem is now people are wanting to place blame on their demise to almost everything.  I’m out of work because of Bush; my life sucks – it must be Wall Street; it’s just so frustrating, that no matter what happens – we immediately want to place blame on someone.

It’s time for America to be free again!  Everyone needs to look inward – are you in control of your life, or are you under control of someone else?  It your choice – and I choose Freedom!  Stand up and take responsibility for who you are and who you want to be – the possibilities in America are endless – if you choose not to make excuses and blame others! Be In Control!

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