Consecutive Days Riding: 96 Days Blogged: 92
New Mileage: 10 Total Trip Mileage: 751
Before I climbed on the bike this afternoon I checked on the current situation in Haiti. The level of suffering continues unabated, although there is reason for hope. The response of the people and governments around the world grows daily and help is on the way. This event has called forth the best qualities of people of all faiths, including their compassion for those suffering and in desperate need of physical assistance. However, this response has been tainted by talk show hosts and politicians who speak of this unfortunate event in political terms with angry, devisive voices.
Every Monday night I watch as my youngest son raises his right hand in a scout sign and takes the Boy Scout oath:”On my honor , I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law. To help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” Recently my oldest son raised his right hand and took an oath to: “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same… so help me God.”
How can we ask our sons and daughters to swear to be honest and obedient, to put others before themselves even to the point of sacrificing their lives, when at the same time we have individuals who get in front of a microphone and a faceless audience and then spew forth anger, hatred and words of division.
I spoke recently of Pat Robertson and Brett Hume and their words of devisivensss. Now Rush Limbaugh has joined in by accusing president Obama of using the current crisis as a way to boost his credibility with the African-American community. In addition, talk show host Glen Beck stated that he believes President Obama is “dividing the nation” because he has “reacted so rapidly on Haiti” but “couldn’t do the same on Afghanistan.” Beck notes that this “doesn’t make sense to him.” I have to shake my head in disbelief at his reasoning and logic. Does a war that has been underway for seven years demand the same quick decision process that a crisis costing possibly thousands of lives an HOUR demands? Doesn’t a war that was underfunded and understaffed for so many years deserve a methodical venting of options and opinions?
Several of my of blog viewers made comments about Pat Robertson’s right to share his beliefs that Haiti’s difficulties were in part due to a “pact with the devil.” One of my viewers noted that he was simply expressing beliefs that fit closely to some Christians’ worldview. I defend the right of any of these individuals to express their beliefs. However, I take exception to the timing and the ultimate consequences associated with these comments. We have a right to speak our minds, but we also have responsibilities that go with those rights. I believe it is unfortunate that these individuals, who sit in front of microphones find it necessary to say bombastic and troubling things, for the purpose of creating controversity with no apparent thought of the consequences such comments may produce. In fact, Rush Limbaugh in a recent discussion with the caller noted that he prides himself on the negative reactions he generates and that he purposely produces a “media tweak of the day.” He professed that he “enjoyed “ the outrage he created and that: “when people start squealing like pigs is when I know I’ve hit a home, I love upsetting them!”
Several years ago I sat in a meeting of a group who was angered by the actions of the local school board. The woman leading the group got up and proclaimed: “ Look at how angry the other side is with our statements and protest, we must be right if they’re that angry!” I thought then, as I think now listening to Rush Limbaugh, don’t they realize the absurdity of their reasoning? I’m sure I could make some bombastic statement about things they value (e.g. religious beliefs, political ideology, the performance of former presidents) that would have them “ up in arms.” Does that mean what I said was necessarily true… No!
Bombastic inflammatory remarks certainly get attention and they can arouse emotions but they also “poison the well” of public discourse and drive wedges into our communities. All of the great religious teachers say that what we speak is important. We are told to not bear false witness, and not express negative thoughts and emotions. We are told that our actions matter, and that the ends DO NOT justify the means.
How can we ask our youth to embrace the oaths they recite, even to the point of giving their own lives for the causes of our nation, if we can’t display those same virtues towards each other? We ALL, whether labeling ourselves conservative or liberal, must find a way to express our opinions without purposely creating anger and divisiveness. I pray for the people of Haiti and for the brave rescuers. I pray for the demagogues who wrap themselves in their self-righteousness, collect their big paychecks and turned a blind eye to the suffering they create. May the Divine open their eyes to see a path toward love and compassion.