Some Thoughts from My Passport

Killing time on a plane today, I was checking out my passport stamps and found these quotes inspiring, particularly in light of recent domestic and international politics.

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. —George Washington
Democracy is based on the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people. —Harry Emerson Fosdick
The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or sect, a party or a class — it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity. — Anna Julia Cooper
Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America. — Dwight D. Eisenhower
It is immigrants who brought to this land the skills of their hands and brains to make of it a beacon of opportunity and hope for all men. — Herbert H. Lehman

Don’t go there…

I think everyone is familiar with this concept:

I can bag on my mom and you can bag on your mom. But under no circumstances can YOU bag on MY mom.

Lately I’m feeling that way about the U.S. and its international relations. I’m not super thrilled about everything they do, but I understand where the decisions are coming from (mostly), because I get who the players are and what motivates them. But when people from elsewhere spout off about how stupid and wrong the actions of the U.S. government are, I get very uncomfortable. I occasionally have to suppress the urge to shout, “Why don’t you stop talking out of your ass?” And if you’ve met me in person, you know just how out of character that is.

As TQE says, I’m an expatriate, not an ex-patriot. Anyone else experience patriotism flare-ups?

“We are a country of God.”

A New York Times article from September 12, 1938, which I found on technoccult.com

Glenn Beck’s rally unfolding on anniversary of King’s speech – CNN.com.

We most certainly are not.  We are a country of individuals, who are guaranteed the freedom to decide for ourselves how, when, and whether to worship.

Beck, a hero to many conservative voters across the country, said, however, that the rally is nonpolitical and its mission is to honor American troops.

Well, then he’s lying on two counts. Honoring troops would include respecting the separation of church and state, that prized principle which used to make such a strong distinction between countries like the U.S.A. and Iran. By stating that we are a country of God, Beck has thumbed his nose at all those troops who thought they were fighting to defend and preserve our separation of church and state. And you can’t tell me in the same breath that a rally at which you say “America today begins to turn back to God” is nonpolitical.

“It was not my intention to select 8-28 because of the Martin Luther King tie. It is the day he made that speech. I had no idea until I announced it,” Beck said on his radio show in June, soon after the announcement of the rally.
“Whites don’t own Abraham Lincoln. Blacks don’t own Martin Luther King. Those are American icons, American ideas, and we should just talk about character, and that’s really what this event is about. It’s about honoring character,” Beck said.

Wouldn’t honoring Dr. King’s character also necessarily mean knowing enough about the man and the movement to realize that you can’t honestly claim not to have known the significance of your own rally’s ostensibly randomly chosen date? Either you dishonor his character by not knowing enough about him to not hold your own rally on that day, in that place, or you dishonor his character by proclaiming your ignorance.

Or just come clean and admit that you’re actively trying to detract from the significance of the “I Have a Dream” rally by having your own Bullshit Party on the same day. I would have a lot more respect for that honesty.

Politics are not the reason that we moved away from the U.S., but they sure are a contributing factor toward not moving back.

Q. What’s in a name?

A. More than I’d have thought.

Or maybe I should not be surprised, given the caning episode. (How did that go down, by the way?) In Malaysia, four Christian churches in three days have been firebombed as protest against a Catholic newspaper’s use of the word “Allah, ” and the court system’s support of that usage. CNN reports that Muslims believe non-Muslims should not use the word at all. Here’s where I get bewildered and need your help:

  1. Does that apply to all Muslims? Or maybe just some of the fundamentalists? Is there a Koran directive or commandment or documentable dogma for this, or is CNN generalizing here?
  2. According to Wikipedia, that word is used by Arabic-speakers in general, and that is the word used for God. Non-muslim speakers of Arabic, wherever you are, do you face your Muslim neighbors’ wrath for using the word?
  3. So, what are the odds that I’d accidentally offend a Muslim, perhaps while on vacation in Malaysia (sure looks nice, Truly Asia and all) talking about God (not that I do that much, except in a historical, philosophical, or cultural context)? Or be misunderstood, talking about something that sounds like “Allah”? (Challah, Valhalla, Lalala, Margot‘s chow Nala, Alexei Lalas, the list goes on…)
  4. The Tourism Malaysia e-brochure on customs and etiquette has lots of tips about Malaysian culture — particularly interesting was the section on naming conventions on page 2 — and useful contact information, but sadly no hints for what to do if you should find yourself in a church on fire.


Commentary: Open your minds, America – CNN.com

Commentary: Open your minds, America – CNN.com.

Just read some thoughts about the debate about health care at the link above, and I have to say, I don’t think the scope is limited to the health care debate.  I am reminded about arguments even within my extended family (so far, the immediate family seems pretty unanimous — but then, we haven’t discussed everything) of the recent political past.

On the other hand, I also remember eavesdropping on the “my country right or wrong” arguments between my mother and great-grandfather back in the ’80s.

What do you think? Was there a time in our collective past when it was not so terrible to consciously change one’s mind on an important and meaningful topic? If we’ve lost that ability (if we even ever had it…), how can we get it back?

We need it, don’t we?