Sorry; I couldn’t resist the temptation to alliterate.
I admit it. I’m pissed. I have encountered way too many mindless memes from my conservative friends recently. (Oops, I did it again!) Most of my conservative friends and family members know to steer clear of political conversations when I am around. They normally keep quiet out of respect for my difference of opinion. But that hasn’t always been the case, and I guess I ask for it by posting so many of my own progressive memes on Facebook. It really is the only place where I feel safe getting up and walking out when the conversation gets heated. I can’t help being vocal, though. I’m a huge Bernie Sanders fan, and I’m excited by his platform. Perhaps that is what led to one of my family members posting this meme today:
I hope that is not the case, but I’m not at all surprised by the rhetoric. I’ve heard it before. The most common comment I’ve heard is that “Liberals are the reason so much is wrong with our country today.” They don’t come right out and say it, but the sentiment is pretty clear: Liberals (AKA progressives) are evil people who should be locked up and kept safe from running our world amok.
That very sentiment is what led to this blog in the first place. I didn’t feel comfortable airing my political and religious views out in public the way conservatives here in Utah do. This blog was my first step towards personal, political, and spiritual liberation. Bit by bit, I have learned to feel safe in airing my views publicly, and my family has only very recently come to understand that if they share their political points of view with me that they will have to hear mine as well. If they become insistent and disrespectful, I will get up and walk out.
One family member has not spoken to me for several years over it. More than anything, it was a simple misunderstanding. I was cold, and had to pee, and I was standing in a parking lot with a purse and a pile of books in one hand, and my phone in the other. I interrupted a diatribe on global warming so that I could get in my vehicle and drive to a bathroom. I expected my relative to call back, but to my relief, he didn’t. To be honest I don’t miss those very one-sided conversations where I could not stand up for myself. I knew he wasn’t listening anyway.
But I did want to clear up so many of those misconceptions about who I am and what my “agenda” is. This meme has provided the perfect opportunity. So let’s begin with Number 1:
- “Everyone is treated equally”
- Many people in prisons have lost their rights to “equal” treatment. That is why they are there. We tend to forget, though, that some are there because of inequalities in our legal system that have allowed them to become scapegoats for the real criminals (those who can afford better lawyers).
- The Declaration of Independance declares, “All men are created equal.” But many conservative politicians, past and present, have interpreted it to exclude many groups of men and women, according to the prevailing agenda at the time. Most recently, Muslims. Everyone is NOT treated equally in the United States, even in prisons .
- “Free food”
- Well, yes, prisoners do get “free” food, but the quality of that food is quite low, and the prisoners have little to no choice regarding the foods they are fed. But freedom of choice isn’t exactly your argument here. The real argument is that the prisoners, like the poor among us, are getting “something for nothing,” and that we pay for it out of our tax money. Come to think of it, your real argument is that prisoners are getting fed.
- The truth is, that a very small portion of our taxes goes to pay for food stamps. I could easily argue that most of the poor among us are “working poor,”those who work hard for a living, but still can’t make ends meet. Shouldn’t we be helping them? Consider Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats:
¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
- Free medical/healthcare.
- Okay, let’s get real about this. The working poor don’t have adequate coverage when tragedy strikes. (I should know, I’m in the midst of a medical tragedy right now.) Shouldn’t adequate health care be a basic right? Personally, I think it is incredibly unfair that prisoners, who have not “earned” it, have access to basic healthcare, but hard-working citizens don’t. And it just doesn’t make sense that only those who can afford it should have access to it.
- Only the police and guards have guns.
- Gun issues are not that cut and dried. Yes, there are progressives out there who believe that the average citizens should not have guns. I am not one of them.
- I’m actually a lot more “conservative” about guns than one might think. While I do believe we need to have more stringent licensing reguirements for gun-owners, I don’t believe the average citizen should be denied the right to self-protection. I also believe that there are plenty true criminals who will find a way to get guns and ammunition, no matter how hard we try to keep guns away from them. On the other hand, stricter licensing requirements would go a long way towards keeping firearms out of the hands of children, adolescents, petty criminals, and the mentally ill. I am thinking most specifically of the Columbine, Aurora Colorado, and Sandy Hook shootings.
In a nutshell, there you have it. If you weren’t in so much of a hurry to apply general labels to a very broad group of people, you might come to realize that there are many more progressives in our Mormon ranks than you think there are. Some of them could be very good friends, if you’d quit moralizing and start looking for common ground.