Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Hope My Neighbors Love Their Children Too

As someone who is not of the political or religious majority in Utah, people are often surprised to find me defending Utah against the stereotypical ideas that people tend to have about the Beehive State. However, when things happen like the recent upset over the "I Pledge" video shown by the PTA at a local elementary school, I wonder why I ever wasted my breath.

"So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."

Those are the opening words (spoken by the President of the United States) of the controversial video that five parents out of 850 complained about and led to a formal apology by the principal and a permission slip being sent home to allow students to view an educational address by the president encouraging setting goals and working hard.

My kids never brought home a permission slip for a presidential address before--and I would have been appalled, even when George W. was the Commander-in-Chief. I didn't like him (at all), but he was the leader of our country and I tried to respect the office, and teach my kids to do the same.

The outrage over this video in which celebrities state what they, personally, pledge to do (smile, meet my neighbors, stop using plastic bags) to be of service is that some of the things that are important to these Americans (celebrity or not--they are still Americans) are not important to other Americans (even the crazy, paranoid parents of Eagle Bay Elementary are fellow Americans).

Oh, and some say that they pledge to serve the president.

I think all of our service men and women also pledge to serve the president. Are they part of a leftist agenda to turn America into a communist/socialist/Nazi (insert your favorite paranoid political system) state? I don't think so. (And, yes--those are all apocalyptic predictions actually made in the comments to the Deseret News article about the service video snafu!)

It's been so long since we had a leader that was invested in inspiring us to unify and become better tomorrow than we are today, that the mere idea that leadership is about moving people to action (instead of covering your ass) is terrifying.

Or is it the fact that this particular president is a black man?

I don't buy the assertion that race has nothing to do with it.

There is no other reason for the democratically elected leader of our country--who has made education, service, and healthcare top priorities--to be so vehemently hated.

I have read online that Utah isn't the only place where the president's speech to the nation's school children is a topic of fear, paranoia, and outright, ignorant, venomous anger. Part of me would be comforted if this was, in fact, only happening here. After all, many strange and scary things DO only happen here, and I am always reassured to learn that beyond the state lines there is intelligent life out there (for the most part).

It is terrifying to see what's happening in our country. I hope and pray that sense and logic will soon overpower hatred and fear--on all sides. No one is innocent, or immune. We all need to stop looking at one another through liberal or conservative glasses, and start looking through human or American ones.

When I was growing up in the 80's--the cold war, the Berlin Wall, the ever-present fear of a red button being pushed somewhere--America knew who our enemies were, and they were out there in other hemispheres speaking different native tongues. Sting wrote a song that said "I hope the Russians love their children too."

That same terror once inspired by foreign governments and oppressive dictators is now being inspired by our neighbors, our PTA presidents, our cashier at the grocery store, our own leader. It isn't right, it isn't healthy, and this (more than any presidential address or video) will destroy us.

I would like to hear a new version of that Sting song: "I hope my neighbors love their children too."

"Russians" by Sting (edited by me)

In Red and Blue America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Pundits
The right-wing says we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If my neighbors love their children too

How can I save my little boy from ignorance and prejudice
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope my neighbors love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie that we don't believe anymore
The left-wing says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope my neighbors love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if my neighbors love their children too


Anonymous said...

AMEN SISTA!! Well said! My question to these outraged parents is this: Why were you silent for the past 8 years while that administration made a complete and utter mockery of our Constitution?


Lynda said...

My grandchildren are all looking forward to hearing their President talk about doing good and staying in school. I am glad they feel strongly about our country and our President.

Monica R. Bonner said...

No, where are these parents, Period. Do they not ask their children EVERY day how their day was and discuss the opinions that were expressed by their teachers and fellow students?? Why would they NOT use this as an opportunity to discuss the state of their homes as well as the state of the union?? Do they WANT their children to grow up with their head in the sand?? This country will sit on the shoulders of these future leaders, do we NOT want them to be prepared to listen and understand the "other" sides views in order to reach comprimise?? "Protecting" their children from the inspiring words of ANY world leader is doing a grave disservice to them. WAKE UP AMERICA, WE ARE IN SERIOUS TIMES AND WE NEED SERIOUS LEADERSHIP!!