The American Transformation
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After the American Revolution and the American Civil War we are now on the brink of the American Transformation. That Transformation must be again based on an enlightened vision of what it means to be human--and not on any particular religion. It is the Enlightenment which informed our Founding Fathers and it was the enlightened view of humanity which propelled the great civil rights movements--not any particlar religion. One cannot truly begin that Transformation without recognizing the basic tenet of the Declaration of Independance as unfinished business until all suppressed minority individuals have been accounted for as equal in status, regardless of sex, race or religion--or as I prefer to phrase it: regardless of gender, ethnic origin, or world view.
Obviously such a view cannot be based on any one particular religion. That is self evident. Humanity must come first--not country or any religious or tribal affiliation. There is no conflict with any enlightened religious view when one puts humanity first. If there is a conflict, than it must arise out of a religion which does not have an enlightened view of humanity. Such an unenlightened religious view cannot be sustained in the long run or in the broader scope of things. Enlightened simply means fully conscious. That ought not to be in conflict with any functional religion. When you are in the dark, you cannot see. The function of religion is supposed to enlighten you, not keep you in the dark.
A few nights ago I saw a very impressive movie about the experience of Jewish inmates of Auschwitz during the Holocaust. It is called God on Trial - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :
God on Trial is a 2008 BBC/WGBH Boston television play written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Stephen R. Pastore, starring Antony Sher, Rupert Graves and Jack Shepherd. The play takes places in Auschwitz during World War II. The Jewish prisoners put God on trial in absentia for abandoning the Jewish people. Specifically whether by allowing the Nazis to commit genocide, has he broken his covenant with the Jewish people?
It is a movie I would highly recommend, for it asks many fundamental questions and represents many different points of view. Some of the most heart wrenching stories are told by the participants, most of whom were Jewish, though not all.
But I will not dwell on this too long--see the movie for yourself. As a non-Jew and a non-Christian I find the idea of a covenant between God and any particular individual and some of his genetic or adoptive descendents rather quaint. But like I said, I can empathize with those individuals who felt betrayed by their God, who felt God had broken his part of the bargain. I mean, the Holocaust was not exactly envisioned by the Jews as a part of the bargain. But then the whole idea of a bargain with God seems alien to me.
Homosexuals too were victimized in the Holocaust. As a homosexual I can feel that pain more for it hits me very personally. As far as I know, God never seems to have made any bargain with homosexuals. So at least we don't have to feel betrayed by God, or rather by Yahweh--which is the name of the God that was placed on trial in the movie. We were betrayed by our fellow human beings and often even by some of our own family. And that is bad enough. The idea that the Absolute, the Universe or God had it in for us does ot even cross my mind. The idea that homosexuals would put on God on trial for betraying them is simply ludicrous--or as Bill Maher would have it: religilous. Cf: YouTube - RELIGILOUS (Movie Trailer) - BILL MAHER We never were part of any bargain. We were left out--there never was a bargain we signed up for or that God held out to us, as gays.
The enlightenment on the other hand is not a bargain, nor a covenant, or contrât social, or what have you.
Enlightenment is simply the recognition of what humanity is all about, with or without a believe in some personal God. If their was a social contract, then that only flowed out of the initial recognition of individual human rights as such. It is simply self evident to all fully conscious or even semi-conscious minds that human beings are of equal dignity and should not be discriminated against on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, or world view. That is in fact the civil religion or civil world view of America: the way we as Americans have looked on humanity, the world and reality since our world view was first encapsulated in the Declaration of Independance--a document that came out of the Enlightenment, much more than out of Christianity or any other religion.
The full implementation of that civil religion is what the American Transformation should be all about.
By electing the first ethnic minority President almost 25o years after the American Revolution and 150 years after the American Civil War, our country has finally shown the world and ourselves that we aim to take the tenets of Declaration of Independance seriously. The effect this will have on the world and humanity is simply incalculable. The American Transformation may lead to the Transformation of Humanity itself--and the reaction to the election of Barack Obama clearly shows that both America and the world are aware of this--however vaguely.
Last week I allowed myself to reflect with some negativity on what happened on election night in the State of California--where for the first time in history a constitution was changed to take away the civil rights of a segment of the population based on the gender of an individual who wanted to enter into marriage with the beloved individual of their choice. Cf: http://forthuyse.googlepages.com/theobamanationofhomophobia
It was a shock to my sense of what humanity and America were all about and I had to express my feelings.
But I am by nature still an optimist and I have full confidence that this will prove to be a minor glitch in the great progress we are making--a glitch which I trust President Obama will do his best to alleviate, simply by the example he may set once inaugurated.
More particularly I have confidence that the Calfornia Supreme Court will not allow this disgraceful Propostion 8 to stand as voted for by a mere 52% of the California electorate. Even a two thirds majority could not remove or diminish our human rights. Our civil rights, perhaps, yes, but not our inherent human rights. No one can take our human rights away, not even God. He would be injuring himself--and that would go against the very nature of divinity itself. It would simply not be in the nature of whatever God I believe in to do so. Any other God, I do not believe in. And what I do not believe in has no power over me or my humanity. Sayonara Yahweh!
I have less confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court as currently constituted. But even those Supremes do not have the power to stop enlightened minds from recognizing what is self evident. Like our SF Mayor Gavin Newsome intimated recently: human rights will be recognized, whether some people like it or not.
I do not necessarily like the doctrines of the Mormon Church--but they have the right to their strange believe in religious materialism--as long as they don't push their strange beliefs on anyone else in the world.
As far as I am concerned, societally condoned and ecclesiastically blessed serial monogamy is not necesarily better than responsable forms of polygamy--but as long as the law does not discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnic origin or religion, I really don't care. Let them have as many wifes as David, Salomon, Joseph Smith, Jim Jones or David Karesh--give or take a few. I won't be marching into Utah to stop them. And if they choose to discriminate against women, blacks, and gays, all of which they did at one time or still do, that's their business. But for them to impose their bigotry on others and society at large--that's a no no.
That ain't right folks!
It may not be enlightened to have more than one intimate relationship, or maybe it is--who is to say? Polygamy was a staple in traditional marriage at one time. And anyway, who is going to cast the first stone?
As far as bestiality goes, that would be a violation of animal rights--and like polygamy, it has nothing to do with the clause that prohibits dicrimination against human beings on the basis of gender, ethnic origin or world view. As Yogi Berra might have said: that rara avis is a red herring--leave it alone.
LDS, mind your own business: live and let live - Leef en laat leven.
Otherwise things may turn against you too someday, Latter Day Saints and other bigots - as it has in the past:
Mind you - I do not approve the message in this particular picture either- but it made a valid point:
Do unto others...
Wat gij niet wilt dat u geschiedt, doet dat ook een ander niet