Friday, July 4, 2014
A Fourth of July Grattitude List
1. Freedom of Religion-- here in this country I am free to practice, or not, my faith so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others to practice theirs. Right now I am a practicing Christian of the Roman Catholic denomination. I am considering changing denominations. I am free to follow where the Lord leads, but in other countries the mere thought of changing religions can get a person killed. Here's looking at you Saudi Arabia --ahem! I am free to wear the symbols of said religion with out persecution. Here's looking at you France-- ahem the banning of Muslim women's headscarves! I am grateful.
2. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press-- without which I would not have this blog. I can say or write critical things about our government with out fear of getting dragged off in the middle of the night and being beaten, raped, or killed. I send a moment of silence and prayer for journalists, writers, poets, artists, and musicians who are even now being jailed, harassed, and murdered for speaking and writing against their governments and corruption.
3. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly- I can meet with a group of like minded friends for a cup of coffee and crochet or I can meet with a group of like minded friends to protest an "Ag-Gag" bill in the state legislature. I can do so knowing I will not lose my family, or job prospects, or be tear-gassed for doing so.
I used to take all of these things for granted. Then I did what I urge every American to do, I traveled outside of our country's borders. I went to Zimbabwe as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. When we arrived we were told in no uncertain terms that once we left Peace Corps Headquarters, if we said anything against the ruling party ZANUPF, or President Robert Mugabe, regardless of the abuses of power we may witness, the only thing the Peace Corps could do if we were lucky enough to be jailed, was send us a cake with a file in it. Peace Corps Volunteers, unlike the military or foreign service do NOT have diplomatic immunity. It was a sobering moment. No less sobering was the moment I had a soldier point an AK-47 at my chest telling me not to move while the presidential motorcade drove by.
Happy Birthday America -- I am grateful!