Friday, June 1, 2012

Love and Accountability

As young children (hopefully), we learn that our parents are there to love and support us. Part of this love and support comes from the discipline and accountability they provide for us. Whenever I did something wrong as a child, it was met with a consequence. As a kid, especially as a teen, I did associate consequences with them not liking or understanding me. Of course, now that I'm older I saw it as a way of them loving me and wanting to be a better person. You cannot hope to be a better person if you can't hold yourself accountable. Parents discipline to teach us this value and, in our relationships later on, we learn to call out the people we love when we know they can be better. However, when we try to do that very thing with our institutions, particularly our religious bodies and governments, we're met with rebuke and ostracism, as well as accusations of "hating the Church" or "not loving our country." Why?

If we truly believe the U.S.  is a democracy, built on the backs of a diverse group of people, with contributions from everyone and heroes from all groups including the most marginalized, why is it "unpatriotic" to criticize officials for turning their backs on these very foundations? If we truly believe Benjamin Franklin  when he said, "Those who trade freedom for a little security deserve neither," why are we not even protesting measures like racial profiling, the Patriot Act, TSA scanners that could potentially affect our health and definitely remove our privacy? If we truly believe the U.S. is a "land of opportunity", why are we destroying that opportunity by refusing to truly reform education, creating sustainable technologies that allow us to maximize our resources and create jobs and invest money in education and job training for everyone? Further, if we believe the U.S. is a democracy founded on dissent, why do we have corporate owned media that has forgotten its role as a watchdog and why can't government employees themselves have even a history of voicing dissent?

For our religious bodies (particularly the Catholic Church, since that's my experience), why is it an "attack" on the Church to speak out against decades of child sexual abuse, abuse that's spread on a worldwide scale? If Jesus spoke out against dishonesty and legalism, why is it OK for corruption to exist at the highest levels? If Jesus spoke out against injustice, as did our greatest heroes, why does the Church fail to speak out against oppressive governments in developing nations (particularly when John Kaiser was killed in Kenya for speaking against corrupt and abusive politicians)? Further, if we bring any of these up, why are we branded as "attacking the Church", simply because we're trying to make it better?

If you want to call yourself an American or a person of faith, recognize that the people who founded this country, as well as most major religions, believed that access to the government or the spiritual world belonged to everyone and that we are called to be just to each other. They believed accountability was a fundamental value to strengthening society. Until we recover that, we're all bound for Hell, whether it be spiritual or temporal.  

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