Sleeping Through History

From the time of our founding fathers until World War I, most Americans knew only what their parents told them, what they had left behind if they were immigrants, or what their neighborhood’s customers and traditions revealed. The well to do, of course, read books and often traveled to foreign lands.

With WWI, a significant number of Americans performed military duty and saw the world. “How can you keep them down on the farm, once they see Paris”. Since WWI more and more Americans have seen foreign lands for short periods of time. Tourism and unfortunately more military conflicts continually exposed Americans to the vastness and diversity of foreign lands.

Finally with the advent of 7/24 news, foreign places can be seen every day. One might be right to think that Americans would now be cosmopolitan when it comes to understanding America’s virtues and areas needing improvements. One might think Americans would look around the world for best in class in whatever, say transportation, education, healthcare, or just having fun, and try and pick the best practices for improving life here.

One might think that but regrettably Americans are still reluctant to embrace data or consider doing things differently. Transportation, especially rail, is far superior to the US in Europe and Asia. Education results around the world place the US someplace between 15th and 20th best in the world. Healthcare costs are about 1/2 that of the US in at least 20 other modern countries, and healthcare outcomes are as good or better. Just having fun is a bit more debatable but who would turn down a quiet Sunday in a Europe park or strolling along a river?

So, it was these thought that flashed through my mind when yesterday the Supreme Court held that towns were free to begin public meetings with a prayer.  The case was about Christian prayers.   To be fair, the prayers could not evangelize or attack other beliefs. The Court (5 to 4, surprise, surprise) said our founding fathers believed in a greater spirit and demonstrated that by funding a Congressional chaplain. Hmmm.

History is replete with one religion motivated travesty after another.   Some Jews in Israel are today following the call of their god to occupy lands currently populated by Muslims. Some Hindus feel it ok to kill Muslims in parts of India. Some Muslims are only too willing to gain their after life world by blowing themselves up and killing as many Christian as possible. Hmmm.

The point that seems to be missing in the Supreme Court decision is that there is no one true religion when one considers the entire world. Further, the US demographics have been changing ever since the founding fathers were laid to rest. What prayer today might make sense as a meeting invocation, might offend many tomorrow.

Consider the appearance that a zoning decision which adversely impacts one religion (say locating a Synagogue or a Mosque) would make.  Wouldn’t the impacted religion suspect religions discrimination reasons if the town counsel meeting always begins with a Christian prayer.

Evangelizing and attempting to put into law a particular religion’s beliefs will be ever present. A wise Supreme Court would have insisted that any invocation which was not secular, must rotate amongst all the relevant religions in the effective area. Hmmm.

The greatest wisdom the Court could have exercised would have been to firmly affirm the secular nature of our Country. Maybe that will happen another day.

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