Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wistful Thinking

     It is almost my favorite time of year. I love autumn; the cooler air, the different angle of the sun's rays as it no longer scorches the earth, the traditions of fresh beginnings with the coming school year and all that entails. And yet, there are the twinges of sadness as the evenings begin to descend sooner, the harvests are collected, and it is hard to escape the passing of time. Soon, it will again be too chilly to swim in the big lake and we will need to bundle ourselves in scarves and hats whenever we want to go for a stroll.
     Inevitably, as my thoughts wander while I ponder life's mysteries on this great, gray morning, I look towards family and holiday traditions of my favorite fall season. The template that first comes to mind is one of the paintings by Norman Rockwell. He did a wonderful series of oil paintings entitled "The Four Freedoms." I loved looking at these when I was a child. I adored his paintings. I could look at old magazines that belonged to my  parents that featured Rockwell's paintings on a multitude of subjects for hours. I would often imagine the stories associated with the images, he smells, the sounds, trying to place myself in the context of what was envisioned.
     It wasn't until I was much older, studying history in high school, that I was introduced to Roosevelt's great State of the Union Speech from 1941 in which he defined the four freedoms that were enjoyed in the United States and that we should help to spread and preserve throughout the world. It seems a call to a bill of rights for all peoples, everywhere. Maybe this is why it influenced the founding tenets of the United Nations as well. It seems to me that if I incorporate these ideals into my own beliefs and viewpoints, my own life will be enriched. If I am able to see that enabling others to enjoy these same privileges not only enriches their lives, but mine as well, then I will be well on my way to finally realizing the teachings that my parents presented to me when I was very young, that concept of the "Golden Rule", "Do to others as you want them to do to you. Luke 6:31."
     I can not make any special claim to having the answers about issues such as national healthcare, tax codes and rates, or funding for government programs. The only thing I can say I know for sure is my own experiences with issues that are at the forefront of our national difficulties. My viewpoints and beliefs are all colored by my experiences, both the good and the bad. I speak from what I know now and in defense of the child and young adult I used to be.
     It seems to me that in order to preserve the first two freedoms depicted in the paintings or speech-the freedom of speech or the freedom to worship, you need to first ensure the freedoms from want and fear. Until people feel they safely have what they need to exist day by day and for their children and themselves to be safe, they will have little interest in the efforts to preserve of the other freedoms. They will not have the strength to have the foresight to understand the necessity of that preservation.
     It seems to me that no person should ever fear that they can not seek and receive the medical care they need for themselves or their children. No person should have to fear the crushing financial debt that can follow the successful physical battle for their lives. No child should ever have to live with the fear that their home might be lost due to the cost of a parent deciding to pursue the child or the parent's medical care. It seems to me that this should be covered by the concept presented in our Declaration of Independence-"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
     As I have said before, I believe we are called to care for one another. In order to do that, we also must care for ourselves. The child that I was informs the fully actualized adult I strive to be today. The greatest task one can do is defend the ones that can not defend themselves, whatever reason they can not-weakness, illness, fear, youth, imprisonment, or old age. So many people are marginalized by cultural strictures. We are called to "Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Psalm 82:3" The child that I was informs the fully actualized adult I strive to be today. All that I believe and choose to do is done to honor and protect the child that I was and the child that is at the foundation of each of one of us.


    

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