August 2017
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Reflections on Freedom of Choice, Speech and Opinion

Bring on the May flowers! From the time we left Houston, there was a marked and noticeable change in both temperature and season. The further north we drove, the season of spring showed it’s beautiful head, lagging in its completeness (compared to Texas) as we wound our way through to Illinois. The temperatures had dropped tremendously (feeling almost like winter at times) but it felt good to experience such a metamorphosis, reminiscent of seasonal changes that I’ve somewhat missed in the deep south. I certainly don’t yearn for the blustery and penetrating coldness of winter, but for the most part, I love the Seasons we weather in Canada.

As with any new adventure, if I’m open to possibility and awareness, the outcome could potentially be beyond anything I could ever recognize through daily living. Such was the case when slaDE and I agreed to attend our friend Barbie June’s evening of prayer and live worship at Christ Community Church in St Charles, Illinois. I never imagined the 2 hours to be like that of a rock concert. The ‘band / choir’ (aka Ignite) had all the makings of JC superstars, with a light show, speakers to blow your socks off (I desperately wanted earplugs) and a multimedia display flashing bright strobe lights and words of worship across 2 giant screens. I’m a spiritual person deep down in my beliefs, but religion of one specific name doesn’t resonate deeply. Rather, it’s the principles and ideologies of certain philosophies that remain my stronghold, my spirituality. Born and raised as a strict Catholic, any current thoughts of attending a church service per se (other than a wedding, baptism or funeral) has me flinching and running for cover. As an adult, it’s just not my cup of tea. The service at Barb’s church was kind of cool. I really enjoyed the music. Yet I still am reticent about such public devotional displays that seem somewhat hypnotically unwavering and righteous in their worship. The religious principles of kindness, sincerity, honesty and love sit well with me. Blind faith and devotion, not so much. And then I question, how many people will be offended by my public expression of religious beliefs?

Today, Osama Bin Laden was purportedly killed by a Navy Seals secret operative that left me debating the sanctity of human life. I, in my heart of hearts, believe that an eye for an eye (aka rationalizing revenge) is not the way to live our lives. Both the ecstatic celebration of death and violence, and the spewing of hatred in the name of fighting evil, regardless of the wrongs committed, seems so tragically wrong, on so many levels, in my opinion. Even the vindicated death of Osama which was intended to protect future innocent victims.

I posted a partial quote from Martin Luther King Jr. on my Facebook page that stirred many an emotion, from the gambits of fear and scepticism to excitement over Bin Laden’s death. Regardless of the opinions expressed, the beauty of this platform and the interweb rests highly on the ability to freely speak ones truth. Yet, comments ran amuck and emotions stretched to many levels. What I wonder is … why can’t my beliefs (whether religious, political or environmental) just be that …. my beliefs, without threatening the readers convictions? Why must we exist in such an either / or society? For example, can’t I express supreme sadness at the manner in which people are celebrating a human being’s death without being labeled as a betrayer or traitor of American values? It’s all a rather convoluted onslaught of emotional and sudden upheaval over news of a terrorist that personified incredible depths of pain for the families and friends of 9/11 victims. I certainly don’t want to appear insensitive to the pain nor the healing felt by many. This certainly isn’t my goal in expressing my sentiments online. I feel intensely for those who have experienced the torment of overpowering loss. I also understand that through the broadcast of Bin Laden’s death, a huge weight has been lifted from America’s shoulders, hopefully allowing for closure in the process, healing the hearts of many. It is through this desire to live in love that I pray for world peace whilst also honouring those who are left to mourn and those that serve their countries in the name of freedom. I pray that the spiritual and personal beliefs that we own as humans can be expressly unencumbered without fear of reprisal or acts of violence, in the name of freedom. I want to live authentically, speak fearlessly and love unconditionally through these changing times. It is by only experiencing peace within and through ourselves, that we can bring it forward in to the world.

There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

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