Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What Would Our Founding Fathers Say?

I voted today.

Yep. Took my daughter to the polls, reminding her about the importance of making your voice heard and about the fact the once women didn't have this right. I would like to say that I vote in every election but there might have been one or two I missed. But, it is my intent to exercise my right.

Yes, I was familiar with the candidates and the issues ... the proposal and charter amendments. And I cast my vote. I got a sticker and I wear it proudly. My daughter got one too. Wearing it today may remind her about the importance of casting her vote in the future. I'd like to hope that my leading by example means something to her.

Did my vote today matter? I don't know. I'm a bit disillusioned, I'm sorry to say. Not trying to criticize the process since I believe every voice should be counted. However, I have to wonder if this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 

We the People ... in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. I learned that on "Schoolhouse Rock" as a kid. Remember those Saturday morning cartoon segments? I can sing it. Not sure if I could recite it without singing it. It fills me with pride. And then I think about our society. Our debt. The debates about who deserves healthcare and who doesn't -- and who should pay for it. The clause that enabled our Congress to take home paychecks when the rest of the federal government was without income during the recent "shutdown."

I think about a Proposal that was written and voted upon today in my home-town. A Human Rights Ordinance that is supposed to ensure that all human beings have equal rights. A proposal that will "prohibit discrimination based upon actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, condition of pregnancy, marital status, physical or mental limitation, source of income, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status."

Huh ... I'm sorry. I thought that was already clear. I thought the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, along with the many Bills of Rights, accounted for that freedom. That discrimination was looked down upon in our civilized society. Obviously I am wrong. But I find myself wondering why we need a Human Rights Ordinance when we've already been there and written that many times before.  Didn't work the first time, apparently. So what ... people will respect this law more since it's new? The old "unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" applied only to 1 in 3? 

And, by the way, how do you enforce "perceived discrimination?" 

The Bible tells us to Treat others as we'd like to be treated. Guess no one pays attention to that either -- it's not legally binding and comes with no timely punishments. So we need an ordinance to legally enforce us to stop discriminating. I don't get it. People are people. Can't we remember to play nice? Do we truly need an ordinance to tell us to play nice? If the other laws, bills and amendments before didn't work, why will this one.

And ... What does this need for a Human Rights Ordinance say about us as Human Beings? I may be naive and idealistic. I believe that people make choices but we are fundamentally good and want to do the right thing. And while not everyone out there is my best friend, I do honor their individuality ... their right, guaranteed by the work of our Founding Fathers ... to express their individuality as they choose.

I don't know about you, but it makes me sad. I have lots of different friends. Some of them are just like me (poor things.) Not many thank God. I like them as, well ... them. I like their quirkiness or thoughts that vary from mine. As an American in a country founded on the ideas of Freedom of Religion and Speech, I admire and celebrate their uniqueness, their talents, their ideas, their activities, their preferences and choices ... these all provide me with the possibility to learn and grow as a human being. They are themselves. We are not a society of clones and Big Brother. People can decided who they are meant to be. No, I don't want all causes shoved down my throat. No, I won't agree with everything. BUT, I do honor the fundamental right to choose a cause and an opinion and do with it what you will.

Don't you? Don't you believe in individuality? Don't you celebrate the right of a person to be who they are? Don't you think it's tragic that we need an ordinance to force people to accept that people are people and deserve to exist discrimination-free?

So, I voted today. And I felt a bit sad afterward that I had to vote on Human Rights. That there are people who don't feel they have Human Rights. And that 237 years after the Founding Fathers struggled to establish a nation of Individuals with Human Rights and Choice, we still haven't accomplished what they fought and bled for. 

I voted today. Did you?

                                                                                                                                  -- Jenni