Thursday, February 12, 2015

E pluribus unum

The title of this post, "E pluribus unum," is written on the ribbon the bald eagle carries, on the Great Seal of the United States. The constitutional committee suggested it as the motto for our country on July 4, 1776. (source)

It means, "Out of many, one," and it was the de facto motto of the United States until Congress officially adopted "In God we trust" in 1956.

The McCarthy era, which was about the same time that the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

If it wasn't already clear from last Friday's post on Democratic Change, I believe our United States were founded on the principal of religious pluralism. While I read arguments that the Constitution was written to exclude ethnic pluralism (with the awful assessment of slaves as 3/5ths of a person), I believe in Civic Republicanism, that Civil Rights belong to ALL Americans, not merely to white people.

I posted on Monday about Wedding Week, and how Marriage Equality is coming to Alabama. My local news outlets have prolifically written and updated articles about the events... and the comments section is often full of Bible-thumping upset. It deeply concerns me that here we have American citizens who were not educated in the civic principles of our nation.

I've also been in a discussion with a friend about Islam. As I said, our nation was founded on the principal of religious pluralism, that all who come here to become citizens and live lives of peace and/or service to the country have the right to practice their religions peacefully.

It seems to me that we tend to approach the other in one of two ways:
  • Fear, which as Yoda says, leads to anger, hate and suffering
  • Curiosity, which can lead to intrusive questions, exotification, and sometimes fetishizing.
It's easy to fear the unknown, the incomprehensible. That's one of the reasons that when I moved to small town Indiana and attended a public school, I wrote a paper advocating the teaching of religionS in public schools. I've come to realize, since then, how difficult it would be to develop and implement such a program with well-qualified teachers who would not promote their own biases.

The other side of the coin? I would like to think that my education has helped me to move past exotification, to a more healthy respect for individuals and their privacy. Which suggests that education is like mulch, good for treating both conditions.

I've been resisting teaching too much here. Perhaps it's time to shift gears.