It’s time for me to climb on my soapbox, which of course will be recycled after I’m done, unless it’s used to add fuel while I’m burnt at the stake. I have a lot of friends, I have to count Facebook and LinkedIn connections as friends, or otherwise the number would be so low not even a presidential pollster could do anything with them. Many of these friends are responsible for shaping our lives and our futures with the rest functioning as supporting cast. For now, for this discussion, I’ll divide them into two primary groups, religious leaders and political leaders. I think it’s fair to say that I have been inclusive in adding people who represent a diverse selection of opinions, thoughts and beliefs.
On the religious front I have representation from a variety of Christian and non-Christian beliefs with a few atheists sprinkled in to keep things lively and real. There are many ministers, pastors, rabbis as well as members of groups whose leadership for now will simply fall in to the category of minister or rabbi since I can’t remember all of the correct terms. Each of these as a man or woman of God (or their version of god) and each operate from a book of guidance. Each of them represents their individual faith and their interpretations of books written by men years ago who had no way to recognize what the needs of the 21st century would be. But each of them does their best to serve their “flock”, within those confines, and many of them graciously respect and honor the other. It is rare that one would throw shade or attack the follower of another faith, another belief. They usually comment with “we don’t agree with all that they believe in, but recognize that they are all God’s children”. There are of course times when religious leaders step outside the bounds of their oaths to their Gods and prefer instead to serve the coin of the realm, or those who would trade upon the name of their parent to further an agenda that doesn’t meet any covenant with any supreme being. These, the unctuous ones are normally just ignored, they aren’t called names, they aren’t berated, and they are given their due, which is nothing. When you look at spiritual and religious beliefs, they are high on our lists of needs, they are critical to the well being of many of us, and yet those who represent the opposing viewpoints rarely step out of character and attack the other, choosing instead to simply do their jobs and leave others to do theirs. This group more than any other should be raising hell and fighting for our souls, denouncing all that does not satisfy their gods, this group who depends on capturing hearts and souls, this group acts in an appropriate manner, for the benefit of all creation.
Never would we dare come out and say that the pastor is a commie, or that the rabbi is a fool, or the imam is deranged, it’s simply not done. There is a quiet peace, a quiet right of enjoyment, a quiet acquiescence, a quiet expression of respect, followed by an extended hand of friendship.
In the political arena we don’t have that peace. We are taught by our leaders that Democrats and Republicans are mortal enemies and that libertarians are just weird. We are taught by our own parties that we have to be true and loyal only to our parties because only they know the right way, only they have the access to the path of enlightenment and only they know what’s best for our people. What an absolutely wrong way to achieve anything other than business as usual, higher bills for less service and total discord where nothing truly beneficial gets accomplished.
Let me tell you, my friend Haven Shoemaker is a great fan of McRibs, there is no way in hell I’m eating them, but he is also a great fan of fiscal responsibility, so I do listen to him. At the same time, my buddy David Moon, the D20 wild child is apparently not a fan of Old Bay, but he hooks me up when I’m low, he also looks at many things where his constituents are low, and I listen to him. There is nobody wilder in Maryland politics than Robin Ficker, he’s a wild man, usually out of control and every once in a while, like the blind pig, he finds an acorn. Sorry, it is actually a close contest between Robin Ficker and William Newton. But in both cases, I have to listen, they have ideas, they have thoughts and concerns. And all of these divergent I have to honestly say are Marylanders, representing other Marylanders, none are for sale, none are doing anything more than expressing opinions based on what their constituents have to say. I would gladly sit down with any of them and have a beer, have a conversation, glean from them what there is to be learned, but I would never, ever deny them the right to their opinion or question their loyalty to those they serve.
E pluribus Unum applies not only to our confederation but to the thoughts and concepts of our leaders, all of which are worthy of listening to despite their dietary peculiarities. All of which, not just the ones that I have mentioned are talented, creative and caring individuals who deserve respect, who have earned a position to be able to present their case free of adjectives and expletives. All of whom should be given the courtesy of allowing them to exercise their first amendment rights without infringement of their need to represent the viewpoints of their constituents and their conscience. If we truly are that state that represents a microcosm of America then it is incumbent on us to show the other 49 states and the various territories how this can be done.