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Why The Second Amendment Is Like The Bible

March 27, 2018



“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Amazing how so few words can create such controversy. Often misquoted, misused, and abused, this sentence has caused more confusion and delusion than the Bible. Well, okay, maybe not as much as the Bible, but still a lot. Like the Bible, words are taken out of context, used to defend a particular viewpoint, and open to interpretation. Like the Bible, the Second Amendment’s meaning is layered.

When Bible scholars look at the meaning of a verse or passage, they ask three questions: What does the original say? What did it mean when written? And, What does is mean for us today? This approach could serve interpretations of the Second Amendment as well.

The question of what does the original say is easy as it stands today as written in 1791. It is interesting to note that the first draft said …”to the security of a free Country,“…., and was changed to free State by the insistence of the southern states. The reason being, they did not want government interference in the slave militias; patrols that kept slaves from rebelling and brought runaways back to their owners.

This helps us in interpreting the original intent. The right to bear arms was tied to a well regulated militia. Until 2008, the rulings of the Supreme Court centered around the idea of the militia. Ironically, for the discussions today, the case of United States vs. Miller (1939) stated that a shotgun with a barrel less than eighteen inches was not protected under the Second Amendment saying, “Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”​

It was in 2008 when things changed. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of District of Columbia vs. Heller that, “We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.”  What was still possible was the right to regulate fire arms in the case of “unusual” weapons, which is what the 1939 case had stated regarding sawed-off shotguns.

Like the Bible, the Second Amendment has been co-opted by the far right. Extreme fundamentalists use a strict interpretation of the Bible, and anyone who disagrees is condemned. Sadly, this rule book approach has done more harm than good. As for the Second Amendment, the group that began as a safety and educational source for the proper use of firearms has become one of the most influential and feared political entities in the country. The NRA went from its roots in 1871 of educating marksmen, to a political juggernaut that can make or break a candidate’s chances of being elected.

Using fear to persuade people believe that any regulation on firearms will lead to the removal of all guns and large amounts of money to line the pockets of lawmakers, the NRA has been successful in thwarting attempts to curb weapons such as assault rifles.

This stand is the same as creationists saying if you don’t believe the world was created in six literal days then you are not a believer. While the Bible describes creation this way, science has proven that there is more to how the world came about than a few verses in Genesis state. Our knowledge has expanded opening up a different interpretation of the process.

In the same way, the availability of military-style weapons to the general public requires a re-examination of the meaning of the Second Amendment. The ideas of background checks, age limits, mental illness and national data bases, banning of assault weapons, banning bump stocks, do not infringe on the right to bear arms. My right to own a handgun or rifle is not thwarted by any of the above.

The real problem is one of dialog. Like gay rights, divorce, or interpretations of the Bible, it is hard to get religious people to agree or even listen to each other. More so with gun advocates and those wanting restrictions. Rather than intelligent conversations, both sides of any of these issues are too quick to resort to name calling or close-mindedness.

Maybe it is just human nature to think one side is right and one side is wrong. While this attitude in regards to the Bible results in heated debate and a plethora of denominations, sects, and cults, this division over the Second Amendment results in lives lost.




I Wasn’t Supposed To Be Left Handed!

February 17, 2018

Fathers often see themselves in their sons. Hoping the son can be what the father wanted but never became. While my dad was good at baseball, he played for recreation. In me, he saw the potential of going beyond the sandlot.

His vision was for me to be a pitcher. He also knew that left handed pitchers have an advantage. They not only have a natural curve, but can throw to first base faster to catch a runner off the bag. So he made sure that I am left handed.

It wasn’t that long ago teachers, parents, and society felt there was something wrong with being left handed and many potential lefties were turned into righties.  After all 85-90 per cent of people are right handed, let’s make the kid go with the flow. Not my dad.

To his dismay, I was terrible at baseball. I have to give him E for effort as he tried his best to turn me into a Sandy Koufax. We would go out on the front lawn and play catch. After warming me up, he would get into a catcher’s stance and tell me to fire away. Some of my pitches were close enough for him to catch, but after about five or six going over his head or left/right, he would throw his glove down and go back in the house.

59635_10151202356794235_1349089457_nStill, he had high hopes. When spring came and I was old enough for little league, he had me try out and even agreed to coach the team. What he forgot to tell me was that pitchers in a real game pitch off a mound. My front yard was flat. None of my try out pitches made it to home plate, unless you discount the first bounce.

Deciding pitching was not my forte’, and being the only left-hander on the team, they put me at first base. The only problem with that is the first basemen needs to be able to catch throws to first. My catching ability was a hair better than my pitching, but after letting too many runners find second base, my days of playing in the infield were over.

So into the outfield I went. Now the outfield is a cool place, you are out there in your area with no one to bother you and you can contemplate the meaning of life. Unfortunately, every once in a while a batter from the opposing team would hit a ball far enough to head my way. If it was on the ground, no problem, my dad had taught me to drop in front if it and not let it shoot through my legs. But at times a good hitter would hit a fly ball high and in my direction.

There must be a gene missing in my DNA, the one that lets your eye track a ball in the air well enough so you have an idea where it is coming down. I could see the ball against the sky and would wait for it to come down, only to find myself about thirty feet from where it landed behind me. Now when I missed a ball playing first, the worst thing was the runner got to second or maybe third. Missing a ball in the outfield, scrambling back to get it, and throwing to the second baseman, usually meant someone would be crossing home plate.

So after my pitching career ended, my first base stint was over, and my outfielding skills were apparent, my dad found a position for me that I could handle. The nice thing about warming the bench was being able to yell at the other team’s pitcher, rattling his cage. Thanks to my dad, and my early training, I have always been really good at rattling cages.

If left alone, would I have been left handed? I will never know. I throw left handed, write, shoot pool, and bowl left-handed. But I bat and golf right-handed. I am left eye  dominant. Give me a pair of scissors and I can’t cut with either hand. So who knows?

One thing I do is write with my left hand like a right-hander. By that I mean I don’t bend my left hand as if I am writing upside down like a lot of left handed people. This is because I learned early on to do the opposite when instructed. So when the teacher said everyone turn your paper so the top is to the left, I went right. Many lefties didn’t and so had to bend their wrists to write across the page. Only problem is my writing is so bad even I have a hard time reading it.

The only time being a leftie was an issue was when I was in the Army. You guessed it. I found myself saluting with my left hand. After being dressed down several times by officers, I did manage to break that habit. They did not like my explanation that if the salute was originally meant to show no weapon in one’s hand, it made sense for me to salute left handed as that is where I would carry a weapon. Even in the Army, I couldn’t help but rattle a few cages.

Was I meant to be left-handed? Who knows. I do know I must be left brained because I hear people say I am not in my right mind.



Them Used To Be Us

February 13, 2018

PikiWiki_Israel_20841_The_PalmachWebster defines immigrant as simply “a person who comes from another country to live in another one.” This is as opposed to an emigrant who “is a person who leaves a country or region to live in another one.” So the Pilgrims were emigrants when they boarded the Mayflower and immigrants when they landed at Plymouth Rock. Some will say unless you are a Native American you are either an immigrant or a descendant of one. Actually this is not true as even the Native Americans came from Northeast Asia across the Bering Land Bridge approximately 25,000 years ago.

While all of this may be interesting, the current debate over immigration has America more divided than ever. Fueled by misinformation and fear, there are many who support a Muslim ban, a wall along our Mexican border and the end of DACA. There is a need for immigration reform but the current administration is pushing an agenda that is splitting families apart, inspiring hate crimes, asking the nation to spend 25 billion on a useless wall, and threatening to uproot those who were brought here as children and are now responsible adults within our society.

Those backing these policies have forgotten from whence they came. Sadly for them, there is Jennifer Mendelsohn. Through her site she calls #resistancegenealogy, she “has been using people’s public family history to beat back some of the uglier claims about immigrants and how they fit into US history.” One of my favorites is about Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke out against so-called chain migration. The term “used by demographers since the 1960s to refer to the social process by which migrants from a particular town follow others from that town to a particular destination city or neighborhood.” To hear those opposed to chain migration talk, they make it sound as if hordes of immigrants are swarming across our borders to live off taxpayers. The facts are somewhat different, I refer you to this New York Times article, January 26, 2018. But back to Pence. Through her research, Mendelsohn discovered, VP Mike Pence is also the product of ‘chain migration’. His Irish grandfather arrived in 1923, with passage paid for by an older brother who’d arrived a few years earlier. Brother’s passage had been paid for by an aunt. Let’s stop pretending to be surprised.”

It is perplexing to try and understand why most Republicans are anti-immigration. One answer, at least for those in Congress, comes from Robert Sapolsky’s insightful book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. Based on what he calls social-dominance orientation (SDO), which is the measure of how much people value power and prestige, the higher one’s SDO, the less likely one will feel empathy to the less fortunate. Neurologically, this is explained by those with a high SDO having low basal glucocorticoid levels which means less activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and insular cortex, both of which promote empathy.  While this may help explain behavior, Sapolsky points out that this tells us nothing of which came first, the power position or the lack of empathy.

As for the rest of those in favor of a wall or a ban, Sapolsky would put them in the category of people who “often haven’t a clue why they’ve made some judgement, yet they fervently believe it’s correct.” This is based on scientists who study moral behavior and conclude that we make moral decisions based on intuition. Then use reasoning to convince everyone, including ourselves, that we’re making sense. My take would be that they get their “facts” from the likes of Fox News.

The group that perplexes me the most are Christians who back the anti-immigration rhetoric and/or still support the current occupant of the White House. As for my opinion on Christians and 45, I refer you to a previous blog, “It is a good thing Jesus resurrected.” For those who rant about immigrants, there is one simple question. “What would Jesus do?”

Sadly, the bashing of immigrants is not new in the United States. Sometimes it is easy to forget history. This article from the Huffington Post reminds all of us just how badly immigrants have been treated from the beginning of this great country we call America. Pence, being Irish, should read his own history.

The debate is getting hotter and politicized more than ever as this is being written. The stories of ICE using, and abusing, the power this administration has given them, pile up every day. Republicans and Democrats are drawing lines in the sand to stake out their positions. One thing both sides, and all of us, need to remember: Immigrants, like the homeless, are not a category. They are human beings that need to be treated fairly and with compassion. We used to be them!





Why God Made Trump President

November 10, 2017



Imagine you have been in a coma for five years. Some of the last things you remember are: the first Hunger Games movie was out, The Dark Night Rises with Christian Bale as Batman had been released, Apple had announced the iPhone 5, there had been a mass shooting in Newton, Connecticut at an elementary school called Sandy Hook, and Barack Obama had been elected to a second term.

It’s possible the last thing you remembered was Tom Cruise being cast as Jack Reacher in the film based on the series by Lee Child. This last one may have been the reason you went into a coma, your mind could not comprehend Cruise as Reacher, a five foot-seven inch, one hundred-forty eight pound actor playing a character who is six feet-five inches, two hundred-fifty pounds.

Through the miracle of modern medicine, you have come out of your coma and it is 2017. You are going to have obvious questions about what has happened during your absence. You might ask is Christian Bale still playing Batman, only to find out that it is now Ben Affleck. As you start to fall back into a coma over that fact, you shake your head and ask about any new Apple products and are told the newest is the iPhone X.

Remembering the devastation of the Sandy Hook shooting you ask if there has been any progress on gun control. You learn that not only has there not been any changes but there have been one thousand-five hundred-fifty-eight mass shootings since. Or twenty-nine depending on one’s definition of what constitutes a mass shooting. With trepidation you ask who is the new president after Obama, and are told it is the real estate mogul and host of the Apprentice, Donald J. Trump. Realizing they are not joking, you then ask, “Why?”

Some would answer because he made campaign promises that resonated with a large part of America, people wanted change, they wanted to shake up the status quo. Others would say it was a backlash against Obama and people not wanting a woman as president. And then there are those that say God made Trump president.

Paula White, the leader of the New Destiny Christian Centre in Orlando Florida said, “Because God says that he raises up and places all people in places of authority, it is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down….Do I believe God raises up authority? Do I believe he sets one up and puts one down? I don’t believe that just for Trump, I believe that had Hillary [Clinton] been in. I believe that for [Barack] Obama.”

Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, said, “I don’t have any scientific information. I don’t have a stack of emails to read to you. But I have an opinion: I believe it was God….He answered the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people across this land who had been praying for this country.”

Former Minnesota congresswoman, Michelle Bachman went even further by saying God made Trump president to prevent transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

The most dramatic statement came from Pat Robertson when he said that anyone opposing Trump was revolting against God.

Even Trump, in a speech to the students at Liberty College said that he had been elected with God’s help.

While the extreme right wing of Christianity is rejoicing over the man they believe God appointed as savior for the United States, I am going to propose that maybe God did put Trump in the oval office, but for a different reason. My reasoning is more in tune with  Obasanjo, the two time head of state of Nigeria. In a speech at the French embassy in South Africa he said, “The fact that America can produce a Trump in this day and age, it means Americans are as human as we are….Trump has come by Divine Will so that America can be humbled, and we can also learn a lesson.” I would add, so we can learn several lessons. What better way to show the world who and what we should be than by giving us the extreme opposite.

Proverbs 6:16-19 says —

“16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”

Trump is narcissistic, a liar, divisive, misogynistic, a con man, and has no empathy for others. If God did put him in charge, is He trying to teach us something?

The first lesson being just who are we‎ as humans and what is our responsibility to the planet we call home. Trump claimed that climate change was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. He has appointed climate change deniers to his cabinet, and is doing all he can to strip away environmental protections. He is adamant about bringing back coal and has backed out of the Paris agreement where the rest of the world had agreed to reduce emissions. This is the exact opposite of what God intended.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28, KJV).

Humans were given dominion over the earth. Unfortunately, the word dominion is often taken to mean destruction or doing whatever we want. The Hebrew word radah from which we get dominion, implies responsibility, treating as having value. God created heaven and earth and left us to maintain earth, to see that it is treated with respect and preserved. Not ravish and destroy it.  Which of these honors God’s creation?


In the image above, the view on the right is how Trump would use the land, on the left is how God intended it. So by putting Trump in charge God is saying, “Wake up, I gave you dominion to respect and preserve my creation not destroy it.” Because of Trump more of us are environmentally aware than ever before. More of us are taking action to preserve our natural resources, to protect the environment. The corruption of public officials who vote to ruin the environment after bribes from the oil and gas industry is being exposed more than ever.

The second lesson revolves around immigration. Trump campaigned on the promise to build a wall and to stop Muslims from coming to America. By claiming to make America great again, he basically was saying make America white again. Not only does this fly in the face of what this nation stands for, it goes completely against what God intended.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matt 25:35 NIV).

This verse is just one of many in the Bible talking about helping the poor, the refugee, anyone lest fortunate. Christians, especially, should be the first to advocate for the homeless, those forced to flee their home and country, the stranger that needs shelter.

Pope Francis said in October of 2016, “The world needs Christians to witness God’s mercy through service to the poorest, the sick (and) those who have abandoned their homelands in search of a better future for themselves and their families. In putting ourselves at the service of the neediest, we will experience that we already are united; it is God’s mercy that unites us.”

Cities and states have become vocal in protecting immigrants, opening their arms to refugees. Even places like Missoula, Montana have committed to helping displaced foreigners. Thanks to Trump more Americans are honoring the plaque attached to the Statue of Liberty. Words from the poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus – “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The third lesson is one of morality. Trump represents the worst in moral values, treatment of women, respect for one’s fellow man, and empathy to those who suffer.

From the golden rule, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them.”(Matt 7:12 KJV), to simply being kind to one another as written in Ephesians, God asks us to respect each other.

Thanks to Trump, and to Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment is no longer being tolerated, and women are saying, “Enough!” As a country, we are having to ask ourselves what is acceptable and what is not. These are discussions long overdue, and may not have happened without the likes of Trump and his misogynistic outlook.

The final lesson is one of love. If there is any message in the Bible, it is that God is love. Christ left us with this one new commandment —

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 34-35 NIV).

What better way to show what love is than to lift up one so full of hate. Trump has exposed the underlying hatred that exists in this country and in trying to divide us, has caused more of us to unite and proclaim this is not who we are.

So thank God for making Trump president. Because of him, we are more aware of the condition of our planet, more concerned for those less fortunate, more aware of how we treat each other, and more vocal against those who hate. And hopefully, more politically aware as to never let the likes of Trump in the White House again.

If God did put Trump in the oval office, it was to make America great again, just not in the way Trump intended. Amen.









It is a good thing Jesus resurrected!

September 22, 2017

gaugeDue to the racist, immoral, misogynistic, arrogant, deranged man currently posing as the President of the United States, the majority of his advisory councils have quit. Councils were disbanded because of people quitting and of course, #45 tried to take credit for the disbanding, after the fact. While several councils have dissolved there is one that remains, that for me is the most puzzling, the Faith Advisory Council. This is an informal group of ministers that give advice to presidents on the moral compass of the nation.

Pick just about any one thing #45 has said or stands for and that would be reason enough for the ministers to walk away. But alas it seems, at least so far, they are hanging in there. Since nothing he does seems to awaken the moral backbone within these ministers, maybe a reminder from the book they hold above all else will.

Let us start with Psalm 1:1 – Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, (NIV).

Any part of that verse taken to heart would tell a believer to stay far away from the orange haired one. But ironically, if you use the King James version of the first part that says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,” you even have the word counsel which makes it very clear in this case.

Not enough yet! Okay, let us go back to the beginning. Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)

 26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

The next verse says, “and He blessed them.” He blessed all human beings, not just the white ones. So if we are all God’s creation, and blessed, how can ministers sit with a man that spouts white supremacy, supports hate groups and refuses to oppose oppressors?

Actually this one is not all that surprising as the evangelical community was fairly silent in the sixties when the battle for civil rights was taking place.

Okay, still on the council. Let us bring out the big guns. Words from Christ’s lips.

Matthew 23:25-

25Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (ESV)

What is keeping these “men of God” from leaving the table. They may proclaim morality on the outside, and as Johnnie Moore, former vice president of Liberty University, said, their job is to give advice to the White House, not take it. That sounds good on the surface, but how many are on this council because of the prestige of sitting next to the President of the United States? Or in this case, the president of a small minority of the country.

Seeing #45 surrounded by clergy, head bowed in prayer, acting as though he has even an ounce of morals, should be repulsive to anyone with an ounce of faith.

Oh, I see we still have some hangers on. Okay, the next big gun Matthew 6:24.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (NAS)

The word mammon, here translated as wealth, is from the Aramaic mamona, meaning profit, wealth, money. Who represents wealth or profit more than #45. Yes, technically the members are not serving #45, but they are in that they are providing an air of legitimacy to his presidential performance.

One of the basic requirements of a shepherd is to know the difference between a wolf and a sheep, and especially a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In my opinion, #45 has pulled the wool over the eyes of any minister willing to still sit on the Faith Advisory Council.


Divided We Stand, United not so much…

July 2, 2017

divided_states_of_america_tshirt“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The above quote is one we are all familiar with, it is part of the foundation upon which this nation was built. Setting aside the gender bias, it is meant to remind us all that no one of us is better or less than another. Part of the naming of this country included the word united, as in The United States of America. The question must then be asked, why are we doing so much to divide us?

America was built by people from all parts of the world. Germans, Irish, English, Chinese, Dutch, French, African (although not willingly), and Italian, just to name a few. Once here, and settled, all these nationalities became American. They did not give up their heritage but blended it with those around them and embraced this unique identity. Were there cultural clashes, bigotry, racism, divisions? Yes, but for the most part this country became a melting pot and an example of what a free society could be.

Today there are so many forces trying to divide us, to pit us against one another, it seems we are destined to fall apart. Whether it is political, religious, skin color, or economic, there is no end to reasons we can’t use to separate ourselves from each other. One that puzzles me came up in a news story about a woman registering her children for school.

The parent was asked not only to classify her child as Asian, but as to which Asian: Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Samoan, or one of nine other choices. She responded by saying her children were born in the United States and are American. The school said that according to Assembly Bill 1088, government code 8310.5, the school is required to ask. The funny thing is that only Asians are subdivided. Under white, it does not ask German, Irish, English, Italian, etc.

While the reasoning for always having to classify ourselves on forms, government or otherwise, may be sound and of value, just doing so keeps us in a divisive mentality. Once an individual becomes a citizen, either natural-born or otherwise, they are an American. When we lose sight of this fact, it is then division begins.

As Americans we can be Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, pro or anti abortion, pro or anti firearms, climate change deniers or believers, but no one is better than the other. The moment we use any category to claim superiority, we divide.

The current political climate seems hell bent on dividing us, inflamed rhetoric on both sides fuels the differences between us and tries to erase the fact that we are all Americans. It is too easy to fall into the trap of believing one group has the answers and another the cause of our problems. Rational discussion has become nearly impossible as both sides shout to be heard over the other. It reminds me of the Buffalo Springfield song, For What It Is Worth, where it says, “There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”

So as the Fourth of July comes upon us, maybe this is a good time to reflect on who we are as a nation. We may have originally come from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or some other part of the world, but as citizens we are all American. As Aesop said in the fable of The Four Oxen and The Lion, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Lest We Forget, Or Have We Already?

May 29, 2017

Memorial-Day-Images  Memorial Day is a time to pause and reflect, to honor and pay respect to those who fought and died, preserving this nation and the freedoms that we often take for granted. Men and woman who died to protect us from fascism, Nazism, communism, and the tyranny these ideologies promote. Sadly, it is tyranny that is once again at our door, this time from within.

Recently, I read and reviewed a small book entitled, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. I called this the second book all Americans should read, the U.S. Constitution being the first. The twenty lessons are to help us prevent tyranny from raising its ugly head here, allowing what all who have died to protect us, be for naught.

A patriot is defined as one who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. Maybe the key word here is vigorously. In the book, Snyder gives concrete examples of how we can be vigorous.

One point he makes that is worth reflecting on, especially today, is in lesson 18 – “Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.”  Snyder points out that “modern tyranny is terror management.” When an event occurs, such as 9/11, it is easy for us to be willing to give up freedoms hoping to prevent a similar event. Think of all the things we used to be able to do, that have been taken away. From being able to walk a loved one to a boarding gate, to being able to enter a plane without being groped. These are minor compared to what could happen if we are not vigorous patriots.

History has shown that tyrants use such events to take control of governments and people. Hitler did this in Germany, Putin did this in Russia, Trump is attempting to do this here. To be fair, Trump is too stupid to do this, but his advisors are not, and his ego is allowing other tyrants, such as Putin, to pull him into terror management. In this case terror management being “the exploitation of real, dubious, and simulated terror attacks to bring down democracy.”

Whether it is the Muslim ban or the border wall, alternative facts or discrediting the media, chanting “Lock her up” or denying climate change, we have a president seemingly determined to undermine the very freedoms the men and women who died, who we honor today, gave their lives to protect.

My hope is that as we reflect on the lives sacrificed for democracy, that we will become vigorous patriots. No longer content to sit on the sidelines, to simply hear opinions like our own, but to read for ourselves, to investigate truth, to seek out those who think differently and listen. No longer label makers, going beyond left or right, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, and working together for the future of our great nation.

Snyder ends his treatise with a quote from Hamlet. “The time is out of joint. O cursed spirit, /That ever I was born to set it right…..Nay, come, let’s go together.”