Creativity moves the country forward, extreme conservatism threatens to stagnate it
By Patrick O’Brien
Congratulations to Ruth Clark on her letter to the editor in the last edition of The Capistrano Dispatch (“‘In God We Trust,’ An Example of Faith Forcing the Issue”). It is particularly interesting that a woman who proclaims herself to be “an old lady” is in complete agreement with a 15-year-old high school student—the student who informed the city council that the Constitution of the United States provides for a separation of church and state. Some folks don’t seem to get that. Our city council doesn’t.
I guess the view is that so-called “American exceptionalism” relates to the notion that the Constitution relates to everything except the First Amendment. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” San Juan should not be involved in religion. City Hall does not need “In God We Trust.” We are a diverse nation of many religions and no religion.
Ruth Clark rightfully exposes the attempts by the right wing, Tea Party et al, to institute their own version of Sharia law. I am not a young man and I can honestly say that I have never seen this country so frightened of everything. This is particularly true of those who are “devout” members of the Republican Party, a once great party, now a sliver of itself and perhaps on the way to extinction. I hope not.
“The times they are a-changing” said the folk singer. In a poll by the Los Angeles Times, “only 19 percent of the California voters polled favored deporting illegal aliens.” These people are deemed necessary to our economy. The rights of LGBT, the rights of women, the rights to restrict rampant gun sales, the rights of the common good are all being challenged by “wave the flag and control the fear.”
Ruth Clark is right on the money. The jingoists among us are ruining the sense of community, the sense of “thy brother’s keeper,” the sense of all that made America strong. Now they would have us huddle in our homes, clutching guns and some sort of individual religious certainty and “by golly” everyone else better wave flags and pray and fall in line.
We did not elect a Pope. We elected a President. We did not elect cardinals. We elected congressional representatives and senators. We did not elect priests. We elected council members. The non-thinkers should be removed as quickly as we can remove them. Vote them out. The face of the electorate is changing. That is evolution. Evolve or drown in a pool of loneliness, one of bitterness and fear mongering, one where you guard your money like Midas. This is a creative country, not a conservative country. We arrived here through education and thinking, not whining and fear. It is easier not to move than to move. It is more interesting to move than stagnate.
Thank you, Ruth Clark. Your ideas are young and vibrant and what America is all about. You see things clearly. You have done a great service to our community.
Patrick O’Brien and his wife Marilyn have been residents of San Juan Capistrano for forty years. He is a former professor of English and Dean of the Language Arts Division at Cypress College. He currently has four novels available for the Kindle on Amazon: “Visitation: A Novel of the Paranormal,” “Under Occam’s Razor,” “Mordida” and “The Erebus Pool.” He can be reached at email@example.com.