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when the bough breaks

January 3, 2013

Let me ask you a question:  What does equality look like to you?

I’m not talking about the big stuff here either.  I’m talking about every day stuff.  Do you ever even think about it?

I’ve been hearing the stirrings of discord over the words “In God We Trust” not being on the new $1 coins and there’s due to be another wave of complaining about the words “under God” in the pledge of Allegiance.  There’s some politician complaining that Kwanzaa is a leftist plot to destroy America.

It makes me wonder, what does equality look like?  Does it mean, as so many have tried to argue, that majority rules?  Does it mean that it’s okay to exclude anyone from the concept of equal rights if they don’t happen to agree with the majority on what those rights are?

When we’re talking about something like “In God We Trust” on our money, we’re not talking about something life changing like same gender marriage, and yet people become very passionate, even calling for a boycott of the one dollar coins.  They see it as some battle in a war against what they believe.

But, do they even consider what the rest of the country believes?

Why is it acceptable to blazon the money of a diverse nation with some slogan that is, lets face it, meaningless considering that it was only put there to combat the “godless communists” (which is, in and of itself such a laughable idea), despite the rising number of Atheists, Pagans, Buddhists and others in this country?

Our forefathers maybe never had a concept of the diversity that would emerge in this country, but they knew the tyranny of religion married to government and took steps to prevent that from happening here.  They built into our founding documents the freedom of the individual, and stated that all men are created equal.

It’s taken us a long time to realize that in reality.  We had to get rid of slavery.  We had to accept people of color as equal.  Woman had to rise up to demand their equality (and we still are in some areas).  We are working on that whole idea that gay folks are equal. 

In other words, we’ve put effort into realizing the birthright of equality when it comes to the big things.  Why then do we refuse to understand that basic equality begins with the little things?

To my friends who believe in a God, no one is asking you not to.  To my friends who believe in a specific God, no one is trying to make you walk away from him. Is your faith so fragile that it must be written on your money to make it real?  Is it so tender that the only way you can continue to believe is by fighting to make everyone else recognize it?

In my opinion, faith is a personal thing.  It’s a relationship defined by you and your god.  It isn’t about announcing it through jewelry or t-shirts or billboards.  It isn’t about declaring it on the money we use to buy material things. 

It isn’t about denying anyone else the birthright of equality that comes with being a US citizen.

And yes, in the grand scheme of things “In God we Trust” and “under God” are small, mostly insignificant examples of the tyranny of the majority.  But as long as that tyranny exists, is anyone truly equal?

So, I ask again….what exactly does equality look like to you?

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