Friday, January 21, 2005

Caring about the Bill of Rights

All right. Enough is enough. For weeks I have reluctantly stopped myself from posting a number of political articles on Meditation Matters because I want that original blog to be devoted to the meditative principles - with a few exceptions for overwhelmingly needed action such as contributing to the Tsunami relief effort and protesting the inauguration. I know that people check into Meditation Matters for information - and perhaps even inspiration - to motivate them in their spiritual practice. But today I have found a passage that I cannot bear not to post and so I am creating a new blog. This one is unapologetically political just as I am napologetically a progressive.

Here's the passage from the film "The American President":

For the record: Yes, I am a card-carrying member of the A.C.L.U. But the more important question is why aren't you, Bob? This is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question. Why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for president, choose to reject upholding the Constitution? If you can answer that question, then, folks, you're smarter than I am, because I didn't understand it until a couple of minutes ago. Everybody knows America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating, at the top of his lungs, that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free, then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest." Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

And yes, for the record, I too am a card-carrying member of the A.C.L.U. Not only that, I have a monthly pledge automatically debited from my account. And I am a proud member of the A.C.L.U. because I am a proud patriot - that is, I love the principles on which this country was founded. When I lived in Ireland I often rode a bus that went past the American Embassy. And whenever I caught sight of the American flag I automatically put my hand over my heart and gave thanks for my citizenship and the heritage of The Enlightenment. Now my country has turned into something I hardly recognize. We have attacked and invaded a sovereign country without provocation and have based our actions on lies. We are torturing people both at home and abroad. We are detaining people – citizens and non-citizens – indefinitely, without charges and without access to the courts. We have passed laws that limit our civil rights. Our people are losing the right to dissent. The big corporations are taking over - aided and abetted by the current administration - and profit is all that matters. The social safety net is in the process of being dismantled and environmental protections have been thrown out the window. We have backed out of nuclear proliferation and test ban treaties and have stepped up our nuclear weapons programs. The religious right is attempting to establish a theocracy in this country and our constitutionally supported traditional separation of church and state is being distressingly eroded. We are, in fact, becoming terrifyingly fascist.

And so I propose to use this blog to call to your attention important articles and editorials on these and other related issues. I hope those of you who are regular readers of Meditation Matters will read this one too and, more than that, will use the "comments" opportunity at the end of each posting as a way to respond. Let us be committed to informing ourselves and to giving encouragement and support to each other.

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