Gentle Fudge
religion, politics, current events, and other fashionable dinner conversation.
Monday, January 29, 2007
State of the Union
People are confusing. Being the cynic that I am, I will generally subscribe that good can come about if we're willing to work at it. But this is the age of instant gratification. We want our rice cooked and on the plate in 90 seconds. We will sit with our turn-signal on, waiting for the soccer mom to load up her three young children in the SUV to get that prime parking spot 20 feet from the entrance even though there are open spots further down the row. We will spend an extra $5.00 for convenient, ready-to-serve entrees without caring about the extra "ingredients" that require a B.A. in chemistry to decipher. What exactly is "caramel color" and why is used both in Coca-Cola and sliced roast beef?

This spills over into not thinking before we speak. After all, we can always take a page from Hollywood and go into rehab if we offend or over-indulge. Take the latest from America's favorite state, Virginia. First, the George Allen Scandal which may have cost him the election. Now, Senator Virgil Goode.

The Chair of the Charlottesville Sierra Club wrote Congressman Virgil Goode. True to our automated nature, a letter came back that struck a nerve. It was published first in the local weekly and soon made its rounds over the World Wide Web. Now, I am all for free speech, but as a representative of the people, I also believe in discretion.

In brief, Keith Ellison, a Muslim, had been elected to serve the Fifth District of Minnesota. Apparently Sen. Goode took exception to that and, in his letter, made it known: "When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to the Koran in any way. ...(I)f American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran." Sen. Goode refused to apologize for the letter and stood by his statements. A representative from his office stated that the letter had been sent in error and was meant for "other" constituents.

Reminding Sen. Goode that he was an American citizen, Sen. Ellison decided to use Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Koran for his swearing in. Even tastier is that Jefferson has strong ties to Charlottesville; the founding father is the little town's claim to fame, next to Dave Matthews. The University of Virginia was founded by Mr. Jefferson and his home, Monticello (flip over your nickel for a picture), is open for tours.

True xtianity states that we are to love others as ourselves, even if we disagree. The tone of Sen. Goode's letter is anything but that. Why would anyone wish to take an oath on something that is not personal? Would Sen. Goode take his oath over the Egyptian Book of the Dead if it were our common religious book?

There was some local retaliation against Sen. Goode which I do not condone. As with others who have been caught in the snare of bad judgment or hatred, forgiveness is the only acceptable outcome with or without the guilty requesting it. I didn't say blind trust. I didn't say looking the other way. I didn't say repressing the memory. I didn't say laying down and letting it happen again and again. It is more so for us, so bitterness doesn't eat away at our conscience. It's hard. It takes work. It is not for those who wish to get over it and move on "now."

I do wish for an admission of guilt, but I don't see that happening. As ignorant as I think Sen. Goode is, I do [wish to] forgive him and pray that his eyes open up to see that this country is made up of all races, religions, and creeds. That is what it was based on; freedom to believe what you will, not being forced to attend church, not experiencing persecution if you subscribe to a different religion or denomination, not having to revere the government as infallible under threat of prison or death.

In a grand display of public forgiveness, Sen. Ellison sought out Sen. Goode and extended his hand in friendship and was accepted. I hope the exchange was more than just politics as usual.

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posted by Sara @ 12:55 PM  
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Name: Sara
Home: gypsy wanderer, United States
About Me: Those who know me find me stubborn, opinionated, open-minded, strong-willed, of some intelligence, and yet they still hang around.
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Love God. Love all. Serve both.

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. -George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

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