Sunday, June 26, 2016

Behaving Badly

It was a trip to the past when Democrats staged a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives. Way back when sitting still sent a message: We shall not be moved. It was more than just a folk song. It was a consciousness raising tool. Gandhi and his followers used it to unhinge the British colonization of India. In the 1960's, this tactic was used in Greensboro, North Carolina to wake people up to the racial injustices that existed throughout our own country. Anti-war protesters picked it up and sat with it during Vietnam. John and Yoko took it a step further by staging a bed-in for peace. Part of Congress was sending a message in those twenty-five hours: We will not be moved, until it's time to head off on vacation.
Georgia Representative John Lewis said, in the wee hours of the morning, "By sitting in, we are really standing up." And now comes the Fourth of July Recess. Two weeks for members of congress to head home to their constituents and face the music. As our nation celebrates its two hundred fortieth birthday, we remain at odds about what to do about the rights and responsibilities set forth by our founding fathers. It should be noted that the Bill of Rights was not ratified until 1791, so the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence have a fifteen year head start on all those constitutional amendments. Words like, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another," and "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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." 
I have recently been stuck on that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," since it seems to be severely limited by the use of assault weapons. But take a look at that next phrase, the one about deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Universal background checks for gun purchases have a higher approval rating than Mother Theresa. When was the last time ninety-two percent of our country agreed on anything? 
And yet, here we are, filibustering and sitting down in the halls of congress, trying to get anything that looks like meaningful legislation done there. It's not hippies or students or militant minorities clogging things up. It's our elected officials. Thanks for the flashback, but once everyone comes back from the fireworks, we will most likely have experienced another ten mass shootings, given our current pace. Then, I suppose, we can get back to the arduous task of sitting around and waiting for something to change. 

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