Sunday, August 31, 2008
Coexist IX - My Changing World Views
In the mere process of living my world views have changed. There has not been one person, book or event, but all the experiences in my life that have led me to move past the thinking of my youth. Even though in America we have a law dividing church and state, in our hearts I do not think we can separate our spiritual beliefs from our politics. Both have changed for me in some ways. I am a Christian and yet I do not align myself with conservative Christian right-wing politics. It does not make sense to me any longer.
My blogging friend Ruth, (check it out) often bravely and honestly writes about questions of faith. This week she wrote eloqently about the fact that over the years she has adopted a more liberal viewpoint. She has struggled with some of the contradictions of the Bible and in the Christian faith, (as we all have) but she cannot let go of the divinity of Jesus - and neither do I. Ruth gave me the impetus to finally put my thoughts in writing on this blog.
When I was a young mother I had some friends that were into the Gospel according to James Dobson and Pat Robertson. I found myself on that road until one October when I almost became convinced that Halloween was the work of the Devil and I should not allow my children to participate. I had so many wonderful Halloween memories and I woke up to how I was being influenced. Some "Christians" appear to spread more hatred than love and can take the joy out of living. I wanted to raise my children as Christians, but not a Christianity that was about all the things we cannot do and the people we should not associate with. I wanted them to live in the real word, with faith.
I named this blog COEXIST because that word is the answer to all the problems in the world. There are hundreds of races, nationalities, religions and languages. Human beings look different, have different cultures, sexual orientation and religions - and yet we still want everyone to be the same, think the same, believe the same, have the same skin color, the same kind of family life we have. We still think, in fact, that there is one right way. There is no right way, no right political party or candidate.
I work in a multicultural city and school district. I have had to learn to coexist with children and parents who have lives I cannot relate to, nor do they understand mine. We do not communicate in the same way and we do not have the same values, but we must work together for the children.
I have come to know and admire some gay men. A defining moment for me was when my friend looked me in the eye and said, "No one would choose to be gay. It's a miracle I survived high school." There have always been gay people and there always will be. So if a political platform does not allow my friends the same human rights as the rest of us , I cannot go along with that. (I'll save the rest of that argument for another time).
I do not personally believe in abortion, but I do believe that decision is between a woman and her God. If some people want to worry about the value of human life maybe they should worry about the young men and women dying in Iraq or the black children dying on our city streets from gunfire. Are their lives less valuable?
As an educator I have suffered, along with all the American students and teachers, the punishing requirements of No Child Left Behind. The intent may have been honorable, but when dedicated teachers and administrators country-wide began shouting out the law's faults we should have been listened to. And no, school vouchers and school choice is not the answer. All NCLB has done is taken money and resources away from the public schools, instead of funding them say, like we fund the war in Iraq. If we had a fraction of that money we could turn out kids as smart as the Chinese and all our kids would have the same opportunities. Again, NCLB was written on the basis that ALL kids learn at the same rate and have the same abilities and opportunities. That, my friends, will never be. This is America - when will a President come along that actually assures equal education for all American children?
Christianity should not be in the business of exclusion, but inclusion as Jesus demonstrated over and over. Christians should not be in the business of being God, but of worshipping God. A lot of my views now come from the belief that God is the only judge, not me, not a political party, not a Presidential candidate. This releases me from the burden of judgment and anger at others whose lives are unlike mine or who make decisions I would not make. While we are down here fighting over land and how others should live, God is still in His heaven. He is still the only judge. His opinion is the only one that matters. I can rest in that.
I read Obama's book and I listened to his speech and I agreed with just about everything he said, but I'm not too excited. He is one person. Neither he or McCain can make all the changes that this country needs. Neither one will keep all their promises. The only thing I can do besides vote is be the kind of person that makes a positive impact on my tiny little place in this world. I can sit around bemoaning the fact that others don't agree with me, aren't voting for the same candidate as me, don't believe in the things that I do - but then I'd just be wasting away my own life wouldn't I?