Views from the Right column: The season of peace
No other time of year is more appropriate than now for examining the divisiveness infecting our country. This isn't the first time the left and right have drawn metaphorical swords against each other. The first led to the Civil War in 1861. The second led to social change in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Except for racial tensions and Vietnam War escalation, the reasons for the latter are complex. But they resulted in three political assassinations, more than 750 urban uprisings, at least 125 deaths, thousands of injuries and over $1 billion in property damage. Adults surviving the Great Depression, two World Wars and the Korean Conflict were stunned by it all.
Racial frustration and disagreement over the military draft for an undeclared war were understandable. But most Americans agreed that civil rights violations had to stop. Attitudes toward racial differences needed adjustment. The unexpected rebellion against cultural norms, however, generally accepted throughout the peaceful, productive 1950s was puzzling. Was mass rage necessary for societal change that the majority didn't think necessary?
While hating the human cost, Vietnam War supporters thought the fight against communist tyranny over people who deserved liberty was righteous. By 1966, the first Roman Catholic had been elected president, severe poverty was being addressed, and both civil rights and equal pay legislation was passed. Shouldn't radical changes to music, literature, sexual behaviors, female roles, marriage, fashion and Roman Catholic traditions come more slowly and thoughtfully?
They didn't. The perfect social storm had arrived. But, nothing close to it exists today to explain demands coming from leftist activists and groups like Antifa. Whatever racial bias and female inequality exist today pale in comparison to what existed 50 years ago when gay marriage was thought impossible. So why are we being told by press, many educators and some organizations that our democracy is at risk?
Society is not rife with discrimination, unprotected rights and other social injustices. Christianity, white privilege, America First, offenses against feelings and the Trump presidency do not threaten the foundations of our government. Our freedoms of religion, speech, association and press still exist, protected by a Constitution unlike any other. Left and right disagree on which rights cannot be denied and which should be granted or regulated by government, but those differences are as old as the country.
History shows that the spread of Judeo-Christian ethics has slowly but undeniably increased an overall reverence for human life. That heritage gave us the Ten Commandments, still accepted as the tenants of both faith and stable, moral societies. Who more than Moses and the Israelites understood the inhumanity of slavery and disrespect for "the other?"
The manipulation of moral truths to build and maintain power and control, not Judeo-Christian ethics, create religious atrocities, including persecution and genocide. Biblical proverbs, beatitudes and parables illustrate how human characteristics we all share affect others. The gospels and letters of the New Testament illustrate justice, judgment, forgiveness, understanding, responsibility, accountability, kindness, generosity, and commitment—the positive attributes that we call our "humanity."
Do Jews and Christians always act according to Judeo-Christian teachings? Of course not. Some of us rebel against whatever obstructs our desires. Lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, vindictive anger, envy and arrogance have always underlain bigotry, acts of cruelty and criminal behavior. Adolf Hitler murdered Jews, whom he blamed for scarring humanity with conscience of the soul, and Christians.
Worldwide, over 200 million Christians and Jews face persecution as many of us celebrate our religious heritage, praying for enlightenment and peace on earth. Isn't it time to replace hatred, anger, violence and blame here with reasoned discourse about differences of thought and beliefs?
Without conscience of the soul, the values that gave us the most successful, diverse republic in the world will be lost to all.