One Nation Indivisible

Starting from scratch is easy! You gather the proper ingredients and follow the directions. What happens when you want to cook a nice meal and you have a refrigerator full of stuff, none of which seems to go with all the other stuff you already have on hand? What happens when you have a room half full of furniture and you want to find something to go with what you already have? Getting things to go together is hard. But if you think getting things to come together and form a pleasing effect, think about how much harder it is to get people together to form a cooperative whole.

Consider the following fictitious composite as a possibility.

John and Jane have been dating for years. They’d like to get married and live in the same house. It would certainly be more economical for them. They don’t have a problem with their stuff. They could sell both houses and begin their life together in a different house, one they would choose together. They readily agree on what stuff they would take with them to their new residence. For them it isn’t a stuff problem. It’s a people problem.

John who was raised as a Jew converted to Christianity when he divorced his Jewish wife. He has two sons. Simon is twelve and Noah is ten. The boys were raised by their mother in the Jewish faith. Recently when their mother died, John got custody of the boys. John is determined to keep his promise to their mother and encourage the boys to continue to practice their Jewish heritage and religion. Jane, a Muslim has a son and two daughters. Allen is ten, Cindy is twelve, and Theresa is fourteen. Jane’s raised her children in the religion of Islam, however she is respectful of Theresa’s profession to be an Atheist.

John and Jane don’t have a problem respecting each other’s sacredly held beliefs and those of their children. They are adamant however about maintaining strict control as the adults in their family. Their children will be expected to follow the rules of conduct and there will be consequences for misbehaviors.

While Jane and John may be naive about how smoothly their blended family will run, even thinking about blending a family of such diverse beliefs could not have happened in a different time of human history.

A mere two hundred and twenty-five years ago some very wise men drafted the Constitution of the United States of America. That document and its ratification dramatically changed the course of human history. The separation of church and state was a radical idea… and freedom of speech no less radical. The peaceful co-existence of church and state in the USA was not an accident. It was a purposeful endeavor and it requires our constant and on-going vigilance if it is to continue to survive and to thrive.

Others have tried to solve the problem of the coexistence of religion and government. They have not been successful. For example, in Soviet Russia, the communists failed in their efforts to ban all religion. In Pakistan and Afghanistan there is no separation between church and state. Religion and government are one and the same. The law punishes those who are not Muslims.

Our constitution guarantees separation of church and state and freedom of speech. That means we all have a voice regardless of our religious convictions or the absence of religious convictions. It means we are free to practice a religion of our choice or no religion at all, so long as we obey the laws of the land. Admittedly, it takes effort on our part to preserve these freedoms. It takes granting other’s their freedom as well.

Our constitution has established some ground rules for peaceful coexistence, and has set an example for us Johns and Janes. This is what makes it possible for the Janes and the Johns of our country to even consider the idea of blending a family of such diversity. We are one nation under the one great constitution. I would like to thank the authors of our constitution for their wisdom and their efforts to secure our freedoms.

—M. LaCourt

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