Monday, March 05, 2012

A Hero's Rhetoric

My heart is captivated, my soul soars, when words enlarge my view and challenge me to things beyond myself.

My spirit shrivels, my mind narrows, when words focus on self-interest and self-gratification.

It is well worth the effort to find, as my husband aptly puts it, "heroes" that do the first, not the second. We listen and watch with care, searching with diligence if we are wise, not leaving the choosing of our "heroes" to mere chance. They are far too significant and influential in our lives, these "heroes" of ours.

And truly, in our search, care must be taken; we are readily seduced. In no time at all, I can find myself drawn to messages that satisfy my own concerns, words that fire up self-centered and self-serving passions. We tend to smallness. Why?

Perhaps it's easier, simpler, to settle for commonness. After all, it surrounds us daily. Pop music and culture is FILLED with self-adulation, lustful passion, stagnant aspirations. Not many pop stars (I am tempted to say, "Not one", but that is not possible... is it?) proclaim an integral message that would lift vision and ennoble. We are inundated with compromise and mediocrity at every turn. It is, indeed, "popular" culture: common to many.

I wonder if we, as a culture, believe any longer that there are true heroes. We've been burned, let down; we have become disillusioned and cynical. So we settle. Believing that there is no such thing as a man of integrity, we make heroes out of the common place.

Heroes, by definition alone, are not a dime a dozen. They are unusual, special; they are somebodies. They are not perfect, but they are noble, marked by integrity, vision. Their words inspire and their lives support those words. They may be few and far between, but they are worth searching out.

Don't hitch your horse to just any wagon. Make sure you know what that wagon holds, how it's made, and where it's heading.

Choose your heroes carefully, but find them. Because in the end, someone somewhere is influencing you. Let it be a hero worthy of that name.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Mr. Blunt's Amendment

capitalism (noun) - an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth
free market (noun) - an economic system that allows supply and demand to regulate prices, wages, etc, rather than government policy
Freedom is a hallmark of capitalism and free market. Infringement upon the liberties of both merchants and consumers is an affront to the system. Here's the rub: it seems as though, in measure, we have needed regulation. Once you involve government intervention the difficult question arises: how much is too much and why?

I must be fair. My current contemplation has been spurred by the recent furor caused by the proposed Blunt amendment, an effort to reclaim the rights of employers to provide the kind of health care they choose.
The administration initially ruled that religious-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities must include free birth control coverage in their employee health plans. As protests mounted from Catholic leaders and many Republicans, Obama announced an adjustment: Religious employers could opt out, but insurance companies must then pay for the birth control coverage. -
On the Senate floor, religious liberty and the first amendment have been cited; faith institutions, it is proposed, should have the liberty to provide only health care reflecting their standards of morality. Obama responded by allowing the employer to opt out, but the insurance companies had to pay. How does that work? Who can make them pay for that? And what about the faith-based organizations that are self-insured?
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the few Senate Republicans who identifies as pro-choice, reluctantly voted in favor of the measure, even though she admitted that it was "flawed." She said she was dissatisfied with the administration's response to her question about self-insured religious organizations, which may still be required to cover contraception for employees under the new rule.
"I feel I have to vote for the Blunt amendment with the hope that its scope will be further narrowed and refined as the legislative process proceeds," she said. "I do this with a lot of conflict, because I think the amendment does have its flaws, but when the administration cannot even assure me that self-insured faith-based organizations' religious freedom is protected, I feel I have no choice."  - Washington Post

But again, the issue isn't about contraception or health care, it is about the freedom of religion, and the illegality of the government telling any employer, religious or not, what health care coverage they must provide under the penalty of law. The government forcing a religious organization to purchase something which goes against their moral conscience is wrong; it violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. - Paul Roy, Yahoo News

Agreed, religious freedom is paramount. A fundamental interest of many early Americans was religious freedom. I covet such liberty, absolutely.

However, I'm stuck, too, on something else. Back to capitalism. Is there not also an infringement on our basic rights as citizens to live freely, make our money, spend our money, and live as we choose?

And did I miss something? Isn't that employee still free to purchase her own contraceptives? Isn't she free to pass on that job and look elsewhere if the provision isn't to her liking? She should be. And that's a liberty I would champion.

So here's the bottom line for me:
I do believe we should be free within the privacy of our homes and bedrooms to make our own choices regarding behavior. Absolutely. But I certainly don't think you should be paying the bill for my choices. And I shouldn't be paying for yours. Not a single choice. Not a single penny. Not at all.