We forget some of the principles this country was founded on. Yes, it was for freedom. Freedom not to be under a tyrannical government. Freedom for its citizens to practice their own religion, get a good education, move from one class system into another, have a voice in the way the government was run, and freedom to care for one another. The founding members of this country wanted to escape an oppressive and unfair government. An ocean wasn’t enough to create the kind of country they wanted to live in so they rose up and said, “No! We are going to create a country where all people have rights to a better life in the way they want to live it.” Actually, at the beginning it was only white men who had rights. The founding fathers (they were all white men) didn’t fully understand they weren’t really forming a free country for all, just men. So they were misguided. As a nation we had some learning to do and since then we have learned and advanced into a truly free country for all, on paper anyway.
This isn’t a Christian nation. It was founded by men, most of whom acknowledged there was a God, but that doesn’t mean the nation belongs to any religious practice but does allow all religions to be practiced. That alone is a big deal. Right now in this world people are imprisoned for practicing a religion other than the government approved religion. We are not that country.
The United States is a place of freedom for all. The preamble of the Constitution sums up what this country is founded on best: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The role of the government and citizens of this wonderful experiment is to support justice, do what we can to insure peace for everyone (domestic tranquility) as well as support one another to have basic physical, social and economic needs met (promote general welfare). We are to think about how our actions will affect the general population.
We are given the freedom to thrive and grow in an environment where we are protected and provided for. We can get an education and become a productive adult within our society to add to the domestic tranquility, demonstrate justice, participate in the common defense and ensure the blessings of liberty continue for the generations to follow.
Sadly, many people have forgotten these basic tenets our country was founded on. We do things that benefit only ourselves. We cut corners to save ourselves money (or make more) but then sometimes in the process we hurt others (letting toxic waste flow into a stream is cheaper than processing it in a safer way so the waste doesn’t end up in drinking water that damages others). Laws have had to be added to help protect us when people don’t care. We don’t like laws. I don’t think our founding fathers intended for us to have so many laws but I think they were naive and blinded to their own selfishness: women didn’t have rights, slavery was legal, and they viewed Native Americans as savages, just to name a few.
We’ve had to do a lot of growing as individuals and as a nation. We’ve had to enact laws to step in and make it harder to violate justice, domestic tranquility and general welfare. As technology and situations change, new laws have to be put in place to address the ways we hurt others. And on this July 4th, the hot topic is wearing masks. We need to ask what is the reason for wearing one? Is it recommended so the government can take away your rights or is it because they believe it is in the best interest of people (general welfare and domestic tranquility)? I don’t like wearing a mask at all. I wear one because I want to do what I can to help others and it just might help. I care about the common good not just my good.
As we approach the celebration of the founding of this truly wonderful country, memorize the preamble (School House Rock put it to music way back when I was young, it’s catchy and easy to remember). Put what you do through the filter of: is it just, does it perpetuate domestic tranquility, does it promote the general welfare of others, will it be a benefit to future generations? Take on the role of bringing goodness and kindness not only to our country but also to this world. It will create a free and peaceful existence for you, too!
My heart is grieved. I see so much hate being thrown around on social media and in the news from Black Lives Matter to Anti-Mask protests and beyond. I’m pretty sure people on all sides of the issues are not stupid, wicked people. I think, for the most part, we are all scared and hurting in some way. Some fear the loss of control, “If I give in to the demand to wear a mask you’re going to just keep taking away my rights.” Some fear culpability, “If I say black lives matter, then I have to admit there is something inside of me that thought they didn’t or perhaps I am some how complicit in their oppression.” Some fear the loss of protection, “If you don’t wear a mask you might infect me.”
I think our hate for those on the other side of an issue comes from fear, anger or sadness. I think the fear, anger or sadness come from wounds from our distant or not so distant past. We were hurt in some way and now we let that hurt spew out on others. We were oppressed by another, we experienced hurt at the intentional or unintentional words or actions of another, we felt misunderstood, unheard, or not good enough to another. Something happened and the hate toward others started to take root and grow into something dark and hurtful inside. Left unhealed, we just repeat what was done to us, only we think we are justified some how. We’re not. We’re just as guilty as the person who hurt us. We are repeating the cycle.
We have this wonderful aspect to our humanity that enables us to change. We can look at ourselves, learn about the hurtful parts of us, heal the pain, and function in a kind, understanding way toward ourselves and others. This takes work. It takes humility and it’s worth it. I don’t say this from an “I’m all that” place but rather from knowing what it’s like to be the one hurting others, doing the hard work with others by my side to delve into the why, and find healing. I’m not always good at it but I try to see the other side. I try to understand where the other is coming from rather than demand I’m right and you’re wrong. It’s freeing, really it is. It feels so much better to put down my arsenal of attacks and listen instead. I don’t have to agree with you to listen and understand your view. Listening to you helps me soften. We might not end the conversation in agreement, but we will still be friends. Try it, you might find freedom if you do. 🙂
Are the rule breakers affecting you? I’m noticing two camps forming. This seems very common on any issue. I see those who embrace the rules and those who don’t. Then within each camp are two camps: those who concern themselves with what others do and those who don’t. Where are you?
If you’re in the ‘concerned with the actions of others’ group, be mindful of boundaries. When it comes to mask wearing, you are responsible for your own actions. If you make it your job to police others, you are likely stepping over your boundary into the boundary area of another. If you are concerned about your own safety, you can kindly request a person within 6 feet of you to wear a mask. If they decline then you peacefully move away from them.
Certain municipalities and counties have different regulations around COVID-19 safety. Leave ticketing and fines up to the authorities in your area. If they aren’t doing as much as you think they should, take that up with them, not the people around you. We are all individuals and have the right to choose how we will act. Laws for our safety exist but that doesn’t mean everyone has to follow them. Those who choose not to also take the risk they will be caught, fined, or jailed.
All of us also have the right to express our opinion. That is within our boundary. Making others adopt our opinion is not within our boundary. As you let go of the job that isn’t yours in the first place, you may even find more internal peace. We get all worked up and angry when jumping over the boundary into someone else’s territory trying to force them to agree with us. Let it go, get back on your own side of the boundary, and be free.
Tired of the same story new day theme we are living right now? Even with some areas loosening restrictions, most of the loosening (if you even have that) isn’t different from what we’ve been doing. We’re still being guided to wear masks, limit outings, and minimize contact with others. Personally, I’m over it. While I understand the necessity of this (after all my daughter who is in the at-risk group lives with us) I just don’t see how the shut downs are a long term solution. Even as a short term solution this has been devastating for so many across the globe. This simply isn’t sustainable. In my mind, we’re done. We’re not doing it anymore. But in reality, I have to abide by the rules. This creates conflict.
What do we do when our mind wants one thing and reality dictates another? We wrestle until we give up. Think of a two year old who wants her way. The caregiver says, “No” and follows through. The two year old throws a fit on the ground until she’s worn out and stops protesting. Then the caregiver gently pulls this pile-of-a-spent-tantrum child into her arms with a soothing voice, “It’s so hard when you really want something but can’t have it…” Brushing tear soaked strands of hair away from tear stained eyes. Caressing this spent child’s chubby cheeks and sealing it all with a sweet kiss.
I’m not two and there’s no one to really hold me like that. But I need it and you probably do, too. What do we do? When all else fails, we have to give this acceptance to ourselves. Try a visualization. Allow yourself to have that temper tantrum. Feel the anger and sadness all wrapped up in a powerful force. Cry if you need to, scream in your mind or into a pillow. Flail in the safety of your bed or in your mind if you don’t have that luxury. When the fit is over, cradle yourself in your arms. When I do this, I usually see God inviting me up into His lap. He gently envelops me in his powerful arms and soothes me. That might not be what works for you. Find a loving figure or your adult self and see them holding you, soothing you. Take a deep breath expanding your entire chest cavity. Exhale long and slow. Let it all out. Repeat. Let your body relax. Now go do something good for yourself that is healthy, legal and wise 🙂
In December of 2017 I wrote a post with the same title. At that time, my daughter Anna discovered she had both acute and chronic rejection of her transplanted lungs. Chronic rejection led to her need for new lungs this past fall…again! So much of my life in the last six and a half years has been affected by Anna’s declining health, transplants, hospitalizations and unknowns. Today, I’m kind of tired of the unknowns as I sit in this added unknown of COVID 19. I don’t know about you, but right in this moment, I’m over it. Can we just be done? Oh! That’s right, NO! We don’t get to decide that.
I kind of want to have a temper tantrum. I feel two years old and part of me wants to kick and scream on the floor until I get my way. Just a part of me wants to do that. I’m not totally down. In fact, my day started out really well. I was productive. I had a meeting with a client and then I participated in a planning group for an organization I volunteer with. Activities that fill me. But then I sat down and thought about what I wanted to write for this blog post and this is what’s coming out.
I’m thinking this is how a lot of you are feeling, too. Some moments are fine, some are great and some suck! Yes? The stay-in-place extension may be taking its toll. We sometimes cling to a number. “I can do this until April 12.” But when April 12 comes and goes and we are still confined to our homes it can feel depressing. Are you feeling that, too?
There’s no magic. There’s no healthy formula to not feel depressed or sad or mad. In fact, I believe ignoring our emotions will take its toll at some point during our lives. It’s best to honor your emotion. Let the tears roll down your cheeks or have a safe temper tantrum on your bed. Tell a friend or family member how you are feeling. Then, find something you can do that feels good to you. I have a cleaning project I’d like to tackle (not the most fun but it will feel good to get it done).
We can do this. We can take it breath by breath, emotion by emotion. I hear Dory from Finding Nemo sweetly reminding us, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” So that’s what we will do.