Saturday, March 24, 2012

Picnics and Protests

‎"Freedom is not an heirloom, but a life. 
Once received, it does not continue to exist without effort. 
As life must be nourished, defended and preserved; so freedom must be repurchased in each generation." 
Fulton J. Sheen 

 It was a beautiful day (again!) and we headed downtown.  While on the way to the main event of the day, we took a stop by the Naval and Military Park on the waterfront.  There you can see and tour several battleships, a submarine, and aircraft used in WWII by our armed forces.  They're pretty amazing and so are the stories behind them.


It is sobering to realize that many of the men who fought in and from them did not come back home.  That they were willing to give their life to defend their country and the principles upon which it was founded.  And many of them did.  They purchased the freedoms we enjoy with their blood.


You can walk along the park and visit the ships without having to pay.  Though paying to take the tour and visit the museum is well worth it, too.  (Cool fact:  my Grandpa helped put together a display in the museum highlighting his squad in WWII).


We strolled around and picnicked and let the boys marvel for just a little while.

And then?

Then we went and got our rally on.

(photo courtesy of a friend's cell phone...I was too short to get any good pictures to show the crowd!)

Yep, we got all activist like and joined about one thousand other people downtown to protest the infringement on religious freedom that is the federal government's Health and Human Services mandate.   In over 140 cities across the United States, volunteers, normal on the ground grassroots type of people, organized Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies and we proudly joined in.  The HHS mandate says that no matter what you believe, if you own or run a small business or institution or apostolate, you will be forced to provide coverage for pills, surgeries, chemicals, and devices that you may find morally repugnant.  The order prohibits the free exercise of religion by giving those who object the 'choice' between violating their doctrine or giving up the work that is the exercise of her religion...to care for the sick, to feed the hungry, to teach, and to minister to those in need.


How fitting it was that the rally took place right in front of a giant glass wall engraved with the words of the Constitution.  Because that, my friends, is the issue.  Not women's rights (in fact, from what I could tell it was mostly women there at the protest.  How offensive when people try to paint all women with the same brush).  Not contraception.  Not the Church trying to force her doctrine on others.  Not even specific doctrines of one specific church.  The issue is the Constitution and whether or not it will be adhered to by our present government.


I don't expect everyone to believe what I do or to get why this is important to us.  But I do expect that in this country people can still respect my right (and the rights of others, even when they are part of an organized religion) to believe and live by those beliefs so long as they don't infringe on the rights of others.  (I suppose one could try to make the case that an attempt at consequence-free sex paid for by an employer is a Constitutional right that trumps the freedom of religion, but I'm not sure it would be audible over the sound of all the founding fathers and veterans rolling over in their graves.)

Rather than get into the Theology and the doctrines to which I adhere (and don't get me wrong, I LOVE talking about all that Theo-geek stuff but really that is not the crux of this issue and this post), I ask rather that people respect me and others enough to trust that we know what we believe.  And we know when someone is ordering us to violate those beliefs.  I admit, it is hard for me to understand when people try to argue that this doesn't violate my (our) conscience.  It does.  People may not agree with it and people may not like it.  They may think it is ridiculous and they may choose to mock it.  And that's okay, too.  I sort of expect it.  But in the end a person cannot dictate another's conscience to them.  And no one should be forced to subsidize another in what they think is immoral.


(Long sort of related sidenote:  When did it become the employer's responsibility to provide healthcare for their employees?  I thought benefits provided through an employer to be just that, BENEFITS, bonuses, extras.   How much I wish people didn't expect their boss to provide for their health care needs.  Why should it be the employer's responsibility to directly fund health care?  Why not food, cars, homes?  Just give me a paycheck and I can decide where it best needs to be spent.  That would solve a whole lotta problems, I tell ya.)

Ahem, but back to the rally...


In our country a person who opposes war may get out of the draft and not participate in combat.  This person does not need to prove they are part of an organized pacifist religion.  They simply need to prove that they CANNOT, in good conscience, participate in war.  And the country respects that.  They are not then punished by the government by withholding communal benefits, access to taxpayer money, or the benefit of being protected by the armed forces.  And they are not fined into submission.

Individuals who oppose contraception, sterilization, and abortion are saying that we CANNOT pay for or support this in any way either directly or indirectly.  We will not be the vehicle for something that violates our beliefs.  And yes, we still want to fulfill our religious obligations (or keep our jobs) by providing care for the public and those who need it and if possible, partner with the government in making that happen.  Perhaps this is an attempt to get people of faith out of the public sphere.  Do it our way or don't do it at all.

How sad that people are misrepresenting this issue: we are not denying anyone access to anything.  These things are immediately available to anyone and they are cheap.  To me it is an insult to women to insinuate that if their employer doesn't provide for these pills and devices, that they are too stupid to figure out how to get it or know how to handle their money (or bodies) in such a way that they can afford it.  From the way some people speak or write you would think there were bishops standing at the pharmacy counter of every Target and Walgreens beating and shackling women, ripping pills out of their hands, and forcing them to have a child right there on the spot.


 Believe it or not, I don't really like putting myself out there when I know people will disagree or judge or hate or worse.  But I can't not speak up when I believe something is wrong and especially now when I see something I love being threatened.  I can't help it.  It's a part of my personality that drives my husband me crazy sometimes :)

I hope and pray that people will continue to stand up for freedom.  That those who don't understand will not try to vilify us or misrepresent us and will respect our right to believe differently than they do and maybe we we can even have some respectful dialogue.  I pray that the elections in November will be a turning point for our country.  I pray that these conversations we are currently having in our country will bear good fruit.

It wasn't until after we got home that I realized how fitting it was that we started the day by paying tribute to those who repurchased freedom in their generation.  Because with our next stop we honored their sacrifice by doing our own much littler part to repurchase it again in ours.

(Gratuitous shot of my boys being cute)

(And another)

(Last one, I promise.)

1 comment:

  1. "From the way some people speak or write you would think there were bishops standing at the pharmacy counter of every Target and Walgreens beating and shackling women, ripping pills out of their hands, and forcing them to have a child right there on the spot."
    Okay, that was awesome. Makes me want to laugh out loud and applaud at the same time:)
    I agree wth everything you wrote. This is NOT about contraception, it's about our rights as American citizens. It's about the government trying to control the people. And it's only the beginning. We MUST speak up for what is right, especially because the Obama administration and the mainstream media are telling blatant lies meant to confuse and distract people from what is really at stake. Remember when Nancy Pelosi said, " We have to pass the Bill [Obamacare] so we can see what's in it"? In truth, they needed to pass the Bill before we the people FOUND OUT what was in it.
    The Catholic Church is not taking anything away from anyone. The Church is not stripping anyone of their rights. That is what the GOVERNMENT is doing to the CATHOLIC CHURCH.
    The reason Obama, his administration and his worshipers have to confuse, distract and deceive is because they know that if they told the truth, the vast majority of Americans would reject the HHS Mandate or Obamacare. It is our job to spread the truth so that they do.

    ReplyDelete

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