Subject: One nation, under the thumb of god
Sunday, January 16, 2005
I spent 12 years in a Catholic school system believing God was scrutinizing everything I did, patiently waiting to punish me for all the wrongs I was racking up. A humorless principal with a wooden paddle often reinforced the point, so I grew up looking over my shoulder.
It's only now that I am beginning to truly understand how the Creator fits into my life. That place is not confined to the pages of any single book and is far removed from politics.
Unfortunately, "religious" conservatives don't see things that way. As we head into a second term under President Bush, I chafe at the overreaching piety of these people, who ache to impose on the nation values based in part on a book of tall tales, contradictions and, yes, good advice.
"Religious" conservatives and I share many of the same concerns, but I keep an open mind and prefer to let common sense and civility guide me.
For instance, I, too, am pro-life.
t When those two monsters raped, tortured and killed Karen King, whose misfortune it was to simply cross their paths at a Saginaw grocery store in 1997, I had the same knee-jerk response of any outraged citizen: I wanted blood. But ordering the execution of criminals brings us down to their level. Only a sadist could want a caged human dead and still feel entitled to belly up to the bar with St. Peter.
t Fetal stem cells hold the potential to cure diseases and help sufferers in ways we can only imagine. The government ought to encourage the study of these building blocks of life. If you believed opponents' fears, you would think that one day we'd all be square dancing at the annual stem-cell harvest.
I also am pro-choice. For instance:
t The worst offenders ought to decide for themselves whether to while away their lives in a prison cell or take a slug of potassium chloride. It's a fair, if crummy, offer.
t The terminally ill ought to have medical assistance if they choose to become the dearly departed. And the state ought to give them a nice send-off for the money they'll save the health-care system.
What a women does with her body -- including any life within -- is HER business. I would rather she not get an abortion, but the government ought not to decide that the best interest of the mother is less important than the best interest of her fetus.
I am pro-family. All couples, regardless of their God-given sexual identity, ought to enjoy committed relationships without moralists hounding and shaming them. Societies long have used beatings, beheadings and other intimidations to cleanse themselves of homosexuals; who are we to be offended when they demand respect?
Nor should we gasp when they want to become parents. Our relatively short history of gay adoption suggests children in these families grow up well-adjusted and appreciating diversity, which considering our heritage is downright American.
I am pro-gun. I own seven, including a loaded .38 in the nightstand next to my bed. I feel safer with it, even though statistically I'm more likely to shoot off my big toe than shoot an intruder.
I believe in creationism. Our vast universe comes from a power we are trying to fathom and likely only will begin to understand in a different life. What science cannot yet explain, faith helps the sensibly curious make the leap.
I believe in evolution. That we emerged from a primordial stew explains why some people are white, brown, red, have big noses, crooked teeth and other differences that we use as excuses to bludgeon each other. So what if our ancestors are monkeys? Evolution is evidence of a higher power, a celestial Johnny Appleseed sowing the ingredients of life to see which forms take hold and how they flower. I hope the Creator has a dark sense of humor.
"Religious" conservatives don't hold such broad views. And with Bush in the White House, we can expect more of their tiresome rattling about family values and faith-based government.
Pushing a regressive morality onto such a diverse culture as ours ignores something I learned in school: You only push Him away when you force people to look over their shoulders. v
Mike Herek is a copy editor at The Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9781.