04 November 2008

advanced citizenship

I can't believe it is finally that day. After twenty long months of speeches, campaign ads, and vicious verbal attacks, it is finally here.

[insert HUGE sigh of relief here]

I've been reluctant to engage in any kind of political discussion in this space -- I've been part of and have been witness to some political discussions that have gotten downright nasty. Otherwise civilized and friendly people were slinging labels and accusations, using words like: imbecile, idiot, jerk, and drawing comparisons to Hitler. My convictions (political and otherwise) run deep, but to me that is just not worth it.

Though we do so imperfectly, one of the things I love about our country is that there is a freedom to disagree. The first amendment of the Constitution guarantees us the right to speak freely. That's all well and good if we agree with the speaker, right? But what if someone is speaking freely about something that makes our blood boil?

That's America.

What follows is one of my favorite movie quotes from The American President. Toward the end of the film, the president finally responds to the character accusations his opponent has been raising against him. And he speaks to this idea: that American citizenship is tough. It requires so much of us all.

I love you no matter who you vote for. I may disagree with you ideologically and we may have some different ideas about how we should encounter the important issues facing us. Or maybe we agree. I'm up for discussion whenever you are, because really ... nothing is going to change or improve and there is no chance of the dialogue advancing as long as we stay on our sides of the aisle, reaching over only to toss the occasional piece of rotten produce.

So speak freely, friend, and I will, too. Let us listen to one another.

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".


  1. We are on different sides of the ideological divide, but we can be friends. Good friends even.

    I am an independent, and as such have voted both ways at different times. It is the fiber of the character, not the letter behind the name that gets my allegiance.

    Have a great day my friend. Either way tomorrow morning you and I will be friends OK?

  2. carl
    yes, we can be good friends -- even with our ideological differences. before everything and anything else, we're heavenly siblings and as my pastor is fond of saying, no matter who assumes this office, Jesus is still in charge.

    can i get an amen??

  3. This day is here, thank you Jesus. Finally.

    And Amen!

    Seriously, I'm so relieved to just have this over with. There's so much I could say but I'll leave it at that.

    Yay for Jesus!

  4. Beautifully put, my friend. I was driving around town today (you'll be interested to know I was on my way to pick up yummy Royal Thai for me and Kirkum), and I was thinking how all of this comes down to an ability to truly communicate. Not in just the speaking side of communication, but in the listening side. And not just in what is said or heard, but in what is in our posture toward other human beings. Do we regard them as truly human individuals, or do we regard them as pawns to be won over to our side? (I am speaking here beyond just the political debates this season, but in all of life.)

    I haven't seen the movie you clipped here, but wow, what a quote.

    Thanks for being someone who gets this in the way that you do. I'm all crushed up on you saying, "I love you no matter who you vote for." Way to embody it, girl.

    I love you.

  5. Just stopping in to say that I extended an invitation to you…