One of the “Forbidden” Subjects…
What are the things that they always say you shouldn’t talk about at work, in “polite” society, etc? Religion and Politics.
I agree about at work, but absolutely disagree in social situations. I remember when I was going through the Army’s Special Forces “Q” Course…the course that soldiers go through to earn their Green Beret (and folks like me, Marine Force Recon guys, go through as well…we just don’t get to wear that spiffy green beret…).
One of my classmates – the Executive Officer for our “A Team” – was a foreign officer, HRH Prince Fahad bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, a Captain from the Saudi Royal Guard Regiment. As a Marine Gunnery Sergeant, I was the Team Sergeant. We became good friends while going through that grueling six month course, and many times I would watch him pray…he was Muslim. We ended up sharing a “pup tent” (two man sleeping shelter, so close you were only inches away from the other person), and talked a lot during those months. I asked him about his prayers, what the different motions he went through meant, how he prayed and what he prayed for. It’s surprising how close you get with someone, sharing everything (even my morning café mocha…made from instant coffee, sugar packet, creamer packet, and coco packet from the MRE pre-packaged meals, mixed into a canteen cup of boiling water at 4:30 in the morning). Our discussions about the differences in our cultures only made us closer… If you respect each other’s cultures and religions, it can be a great way of finding out just how similar you actually are to each other.
But Politics tends to be something that can completely divide folks. So let me be clear. I don’t care one whit what your political leanings are. I’m not going to call the über-liberals socialists and communists, and I’m not going to call the ultra-conservatives a bunch of fascists and oligarchs. This isn’t about where you fall in the spectrum of political philosophy.
I’m talking about politics. How it works, what you (if you are a Citizen of the United States) should know and do, and what any Citizen should be concerned about as we move into this election cycle – to include a Presidential election year. If you’re not a US Citizen, this doesn’t concern you. You might be concerned about what is happening, but you have no say – since it is illegal for you to vote. If you want to vote, that’s simple. Become a US Citizen.
I know some of you are saying, what the heck to you know? What gives you the right to talk about this, and why should I listen to you? Because I, like millions before me, have fought and put my life on the line to protect your right to be able to choose, through the democratic process, who you want to represent you in the people’s government. Besides fighting for that right, I’ve cared enough to step up and put my money where my mouth is by voting in every election since 1972 when I became eligible to vote, and also, because I believed strongly enough that I even ran for elective office (U.S. Congress, TX-15), to help preserve our way of life, and change those things that I felt needed change to benefit others besides just myself.
My mom, one of my sisters and my daughter tend to lean left (some much more than others). My dad, one of my sisters, I, my two sons, (and maybe my brother…but he doesn’t let much out of the bag) tend to lean right (some much more than the others). I have nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, etc., etc…who all tend to lean in surprisingly (or more likely, not very surprisingly) similar directions as their immediate families and parents do. But guess what? WE ALL CARE! That’s what’s great. I LOVE hearing all my family debate back and forth, disagree (generally civilly), and espouse their opinions. Many of those opinions cancel each other out at the ballot box…but they vote!
So what am I saying here? Did I, and all those other millions fight for your right to believe what we believe? As a law enforcement officer (state, local and federal), did I and all those others uphold the law for those who believed like we do? Not hardly. It was for you to be able to be free to choose, to think, to vote. If you believe strongly enough, and think you can make a difference, you also have the option of stepping up and running for any office you qualify for, like I did.
What I’m saying is educate yourselves about the people running, the issues you believe in, and do something about it. I was there in Baghdad when all of the populace was running around with purple fingers, having just voted, despite the death threats and bombings. I know what it is to not be able to participate in free and open (civil) discussions, or to be able to have any say in your own government. You have a gift that has been given to you by centuries of sacrifice. Take a few moments to find out about the stances of the people running for office, what they stand for, what kind of person they are, and what you want for your future.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a quick “I Side With” quiz that can help you see where you stand in comparison with the current Presidential Candidates. Enjoy it – you might even be surprised…I was!
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