Friday, July 16, 2010

Let the Mosque be built near Ground Zero

There are few things more important to the American experience than the freedom of religion.

Post New World England fought for hundreds of years about religion. It didn’t seem to matter that opposing sides were just a degree or two different in their religious view point. Suppression by one side or the other lead to violence and carnage. When the power shifted to the other side, they then visited the same on the other.

What kept that unrest from the New World shores was tolerance of each other’s religious point of view. In fact, it was so important that religion became an issue in the newly formed Republic, the authors of the constitution wrote into the document, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Of all the things the authors were vague about in the constitution, the words “no religious test shall ever be required” are as clear as it can get. It is clear the authors want no person in any position of authority in the country to make decisions based on a religious point of view.

Through the years, that belief in freedom of religion has been tested over and over. While we may not argue about some of the outcomes, in the long run, it came out right. We are still here, religion flourishes and people can feel free to worship just as they please, or not, depending on their point of view.

But, as a community of believers and non-believers we are now being tested. Our clear vision about the freedom of religion has be clouded by the violence the nation experienced on 9/11. The near complete collective thinking is that the violence was authorized by Islam. This is because a few powerful personalities have adopted Islam as their justification for all the violence they advocate. Responding to the call, a few hundred, arguable, a few thousand have taken up arms against the West in the name of Islam. But, there are millions of others that have taken no violent action against the West.

Near the now hallowed ground that we call Ground Zero, Muslims would like to build a mosque. It is a simple act of constructing a building were people of a like view point can gather to worship in the manner that is constitutionally protected. It would be right to allow it because it is just place that the Muslim community felt was right. It would be right to allow it because of the Muslims that also died in the attack. But, it would also be right to allow it because of the violence that happen there. That a visitor may find a place of their faith to pray that that it will never happen again, no matter that it be Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Islam or any other faith.

The building of the mosque near ground zero should be allowed.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All Politics is local

All politics is local. We have all heard that and it is attributed to so many politicians. It is only partially true today and in the future it may become even less… unless we all do something about it.

In the past, it was the community that was the center of the political world. With the exceptions of world wars, most of the issues were about what was happening on main street in your own home town. The high school curriculum, roads, the mayor’s affair with the local call girl and if the old abandon church should come down to make room for the expansion of the lumber yard were the big issues.

Yes, that is a little simplistic view of the issues but what wasn’t simplistic were the solutions. The solutions weren’t based on the left or right or some extreme agenda on either side. Solutions had to make sense to the community and the people that lived in them. Extreme ideas didn’t get tried because people at ground zero could see that it wouldn’t work in their situation. Solutions also didn’t come out of a vague philosophy that preached a point of view that may work in the macro but not on main street.

If someone was about to lose their job but politicians tried to convince them that to help them out would not let the market work like it should, they were voted out. If the local banker lost the community’s money in risky instruments that if they paid off would have only benefited the banker, he would have been run out of town. (after his house was taken and sold)

Then came centralized politics with solutions that sounded good in abstract thinking but made no sense to those living the problems. Then came big money spent on marketing and advertising campaigns that convinced people that what was bad for them was really good.

Along with all of this came the centralization of economic power. This point of view believes that the only purpose of big business is to accumulate wealth. If the local community must suffer layoffs and plant closings to maximize profits, then that is what the CEO has to do. (I guess making ten billion in profit isn’t as good as 12 billion)

But the Responsible Community takes another view. It must view solutions from ground zero of the world, the place where people and families live. Government should be run by political parties that understand they are to help people live in a safe and secure environment. Business has a fiduciary responsibility to the community, it is there to provide jobs and support the community.

This is not a naive view, it is a practical view. It is a view that means people will do the responsible thing and expect government to be responsible to them not to political ideology or big business.

There will be problems but the solutions must keep real people in mind.