August 5, 2012
MAY FREEDOM RING, EVEN ON THIS SAD DAY
It might sound a little cheesy to say this, but it's important to remember today that Americans are good people. All people are good, I think, and we are no different. The truth of who we are is decency and love.
What happened in Wisconsin on Sunday is a demonstration of our "shadow self" - a very ugly, racist energy that has plagued our country from its earliest days. We're no better or worse than any other country in this respect - nations have character defects just like individuals do - but ours was on full display when embodied by a crazy man who seemed to think, quite perversely, that he was defending America by killing those whose religious beliefs were not his own.
What is true, of course, is that the gunman was not defending us - rather, he was attacking us. By attacking those whose religious orientation is not the majority, he was attacking one of the fundamentals of our liberty: freedom of religion. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Whether a man believes in twenty gods or no god neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." Whether the Sikhs want to worship in Wisconsin or the Christians want to worship in Texas or the Jews want to worship in New York, we're living under the magnificent umbrella of a Constitution that says we can.
What I hope we'll see now is a loud and fervent call by religious leaders in the United States - particularly Christians, because they are the majority - for religious non-judgment and love. Tolerance itself is not enough, for it still implies judgment. America at its best is an expansive mindset: an agreement that the point of freedom is not that those who think like we think and pray like we pray can feel at home here, but that all of us can feel at home here - because it is home to all of us.
That is freedom, that is America, and that is love.