If you are human, you know right from wrong …

I voted for Obama four years ago and I don’t regret it. I thought we needed to do something different. I didn’t think that continuing to do the same things that had landed us in a mess were going to get us out of it. It’s foolish to believe that repeating the same behavior will eventually produce different results.

If Obama had lost and McCain had been elected, aside from living in fear that he’d die leaving us with Sara Palin, John McCain was qualified to be President of the United States. He was not my choice, but he was not ridiculous or evil, just not the guy I wanted as President.

This year is different. Rather than feeling like an election, it feels like a referendum, the results of which will define who we are as a nation. We are about to make a statement that will tell the world whether or not the U.S. retains a moral compass.

No government is entirely on the side of the angels, though every government will protest otherwise. Regardless, there are obviously better and worse governments. No one will argue that Germany under Hitler was merely expressing a difference of opinion with other nations, or that Idi Amin was a bit wrong-headed but his heart was in the right place.

I’ve studied, read, argued and reargued this issue for the past 50 years. You don’t have to agree with me, but I believe knowing right from wrong is the essence of being human. I think it has little or nothing to do with your upbringing. Bad kids come from good homes and good kids emerge from bad ones.

Here’s a personal example.

My husband was raised by Christian parents, attended church regularly. He credits many of the values that have guided his life to his upbringing. He doesn’t push his beliefs on anyone else, including me. He would never presume to force anyone to his way of thinking.

On the other hand, I was raised by wolves. I’m kidding. Only one of my parents was non-human and he was a snake, not a wolf. I like wolves.

My mother called herself an atheist, but blamed the God she claimed to not believe in for failing to prevent the world’s ills. We attended neither synagogue nor church. I have spent most of my life trying to understand why God seems to be persistently MIA when bad things happen to good people. I’m not an atheist, but I am a skeptic.

Garry and I have been married for 22 years. I don’t believe anyone who knows us who would call either of us immoral or without conscience. We hold different beliefs, but respect each other’s points of view.

Garry thinks he developed his morals, conscience and understanding of right and wrong because his parents provided positive role models. He also gives credit to his church. I, on the other hand, believe we are all hard-wired — designed by our Creator — to know right from wrong. I think that is what distinguishes human beings from other species. If we were created in the image of God, but God has no physical aspect, then in what other way than by our ability to know right from wrong could we resemble God?

I don’t think it matters whether you are brought up Christian, Jewish, Muslim Buddhist, nothing at all or any combination of the aforementioned. If you are human, you know it’s wrong to murder, steal, cheat, lie or for that matter, let your neighbor die of starvation or lack of medical care. Even — maybe especially — if it costs you something to save someone else, you know in your head, your heart, and your guts that it’s the right thing to do.

The irony — or perhaps one of many ironies — of this election is that a group of so-called Christian Conservative fundamentalist whack jobs are leading a charge against the very things that every religion on earth values. The very things that Jesus advocated are the things that these phony Christians would abolish.

In a few weeks, we get to choose a president — and whether or not we are the kind of people who throw our elderly, sick, disabled, and just plain unlucky fellow citizens under the bus … or throw them a lifeline. We choose whether we will be ruled  by fear, prejudice, and hate … or by our inherent understanding of right and wrong. It’s awful that we’ve come to a point where we are so divided along racial and religious lines that such a choice is part of the electoral process. We appear to be standing at the edge of a deep chasm . I’m not sure we could climb out of that hole once we are in it. No one is pushing us over that edge. If we wind up in the chasm, we get there because we chose to jump.

I have always loved elections. They are my favorite spectator sport. During Presidential election years, I am usually glued to the television watching debates, analyzing political advertisements, reading the latest poll numbers.

I have watched many candidates for whom I voted lose. I was not thrilled about it, but I wasn’t scared to death, either. We’ve had a lot of Chiefs of State that were not my choice, but that’s the way the process works. You win. You lose.

Losing is disappointing, not catastrophic, It is one of the reasons this country is great. In the United States, we peacefully pass the reins of power from one administration to another. We don’t need a revolution to change the composition of Congress or the President. Good choices or bad, we have always managed to retain our fundamental principles, our sense of purpose and identity. We have regularly scheduled elections at which time we can replace former elected officials with different ones. Between elections, we cope and get on with our lives. In the end, to quote Tip O’Neil, “All politics is local.” No matter who is president, we have local representatives to help us. Most of the time, all we need to do to get help, is to ask for it.

This year, it’s come down to moral choices about what kind of people we are. Do we really, truly not care if everyone suffers as long as we advance our own agendas? Are we actually willing to vote for someone entirely because of his skin color? Have we gone so far backward that we don’t remember that we fought a bloody war that was supposed to settle that issue?

You don’t have to agree with me and I don’t have to agree with you. I shouldn’t have to worry that you’ll kill me because I don’t agree with you or vice verse.

Except, this year it is different. The amount of hate in this campaign shows a massive failure of basic civility, of our fundamental sense of fairness. The willingness to believe anything as long as it supports our position without regard to facts, right, wrong, or common sense demonstrates how far we have NOT come.

How many people see that our first amendment right to freedom of religion  is under attack? It’s as if we no longer have a constitution. The conservative fundamentalists who are pulling the strings in this election support the right of everyone to have a gun or, for that matter, an assault weapon, but not the separation of church and state. When did my rights go up for grabs? Didn’t we settle that 250 years ago? Didn’t we duke it out with Great Britain on this very subject? And yet, here we are again. What happened? How can we let ourselves be so manipulated and used to support an agenda that the vast majority of us disagree with?

I am trying to hang on to my belief that Americans are not fools, that we won’t elect a government whose principles are contrary to those of the nation we all love.

The system isn’t bullet proof. We can ignore our own better selves in the name of saving a few bucks. We can let our worst impulses, our hatred, our bigotry, our ignorance dominate our world. We can destroy ourselves. It isn’t easy, but it’s doable.

Here’s how. Instead of reasonable people, elect fanatics, haters,  and folks with lots of loose screws. When the haters, fanatics and crazies comprise a group large enough to form a swing vote, they will be the ones who decide what laws are passed. They will tell us what we can do with our lives, what to believe, what we can do in our bedrooms and of course, with whom we can do it.  They can upset the balance of powers to such a degree that the system stops working.

voting day in a small town

Small town voting. It looks like home to me! (Photo credit: Muffet)

However you choose,  VOTE. Vote for principled men and women who take the job of governing seriously and will work for the common good. Vote for positive reasons, not out of hate. Never in human history has hate been the foundation for anything good. It does not work that way. Karma is a bitch. Finally, don’t assume your vote doesn’t matter. We are as strong as our willingness to participate in the process. We have a good system. Support it. Be part of it. Whatever your feelings, our current problems are a bump in the road. A big bump to be sure, but not the end of the world unless we make it so. Win or lose, it’s a good system. It is my system, your system. Treasure it. Keep it strong. 

Categories: Ethics and Philosophy, Government, History, News, Politics, Racism and Bigotry

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Well Written and coherent. Send it in to Huffpost. Hugs, Tasha


  2. Blogging is such a fantastic open door providing opportunities to really get to know the ‘guts’ of wonderful new friends. This is a great article, Marilyn, very strong but not pushy. I really do not believe the average person understands America – they simply take all they have for granted! I did not vote for Obama in 2008 and in this election, I do not feel we have the ‘right’ candidate. Of course, we each have our own opinions as to what is ‘right’ but do we always focus on the ‘rights’ of our country? I think not…

    Like you, on Awakenings, I continuously encourage my readers to go the polls and VOTE! I do not ‘advertise’ either candidate. Each of us has a choice…aren’t we fortunate to be able to exercise that right? Let’s just keep all of our rights that so many fought and sacrificed to establish and are still fighting today to maintain.

    VOTE, people, VOTE! Vote for America – our country, your land and my land!


    • I hope everyone votes. You can’t have representative democracy if people opt out. Talk about annoying: people who whine about the outcome of the election in which they chose to not participate.

      I also hope folks vote their conscience, not their hatred, prejudices and fears. I have a lot of problems with Romney, personally (Garry knew him too well for either of our comforts) and politically. He really WAS a dreadful governor. The damage he caused is still not fully healed … and that was less than one term in office. He quit in the middle to pursue “other opportunitiese” in DC, abandoning Massachusetts and his campaign promise that he would absolutely guarantee he would be a full term governor and not leave before it was complete. As soon as GW Bush took office, Romney quit, leaving a mess behind to be taken care of by a completely inexperienced young woman who’d only gotten on the ticket because she was young and pretty. She had no experience governing at all and she was a disaster. They fired her in the middle of one of many scandals that I suspect Romney left behind for her. I suspect she was glad to be out of there. I believe she left politics, because she hasn’t been heard from since. She never expected to have to actually govern. She was the Token Woman.

      Romney is not a good guy. We’ve had a lot of Republican governors in this otherwise Democratic state. The state house is always controlled by dems, but more often than not, a Republican is at the top. Maybe it’s a balance thing, a way to keep one party from owning us. We’ve quite liked several of our GOP governors. Bill Weld was a cool guy, though some of his fiscal policies in the long term didn’t work well . Still, he was a real governor and he took the job seriously.

      Romney didn’t and doesn’t care to govern. He wants power. He wants to win. If elected, he’ll turn the reins over to others and start his re-election campaign. That’s what he did here. He has neither a gift for nor an interest or understanding of government. He likes winning and will do anything to achieve that end. He will say anything, promise anything. What he will do if elected? Your guess is as good as mine, but don’t expect him to be what he promises. He can’t even remember from one day to the next what he promises and I doubt he cares. It’s just mouth music. He didn’t keep a single promise he made in Massachusetts. Not one. He is unlikely to keep any promises in Washington where it’s a lot harder to make things happen. On the up side, maybe his not governing would be his greatest gift. One can but hope.

      The thing that concerned me about Obama when he was elected was that he really didn’t have a much experience. He was young and new and despite the fact that everyone loves an “outsider,” outsiders don’t get much done until they become insiders. We may not like it, but that’s the way it works. You make deals within your own party and across the aisle or nothing gets done. I figure Obama has just about figured out how to do the job and I don’t think Romney is the guy to do it better… not from anything I’ve seen, heard, or experienced.

      As long as we don’t wind up with a pack of fundamentalists running my country, life will go on pretty much the same way it goes now. Our lives won’t change much, but I pity the kids and grandchilren.



      • You provided some great insight into Romney I did not know. From the very beginning, there has been ‘something’ that I just don’t LIKE about him. I cannot put my finger on it but it is there. Wish we had been fortunate enough to had another really strong candidate. I have my doubts about Obama but then nobody’s perfect, especially the President!


        • Garry and I would have preferred Obama with more seasoning in the Senate, we didn’t get to choose. McCain was clearly past his prime. And then there was Sarah Palin. I don’t think she’s as dumb as she sometimes seems. In an area where she is knowledgeable, she can hold her own, but she was and is so ignorant about so much: not ready for prime time, much less the oval office. Obama is good and I think is only beginning to come into his own. He was a political babe in the woods when he was elected and did better than I thought he would, given the mess he inherited.

          Traditionally, Americans, even our political parties, come together in times of crisis, but this generation of the GOP has forgotten that their primary allegiance is to America, not their party. They should have helped fix the disaster, but chose to block all attempts to improve things. That’s irresponsible.

          The “Christian” right who keep insisting that this is a Christian country are wrong and downright unAmerican. Christians have no legal standing other than being citizens, like anyone else. A lot of these so-called Christians should re-examine their behavior and act more like Christ and less like the Devil. Religious persecution by religious majorities has an ugly history. More people have been slaughtered in the name of God than for any other reason. Thousands of years of murder and genocide in the name God. Funny how everyone insists that God is on his/her/their side, but I haven’t heard God weigh in on the subject. In the words of my friend Marilyn (yeah, it’s confusing, but that’s her name), “Human beings are full of sin.” She IS Christian. I probably would be less ambivalent about Christianity were there were more Marilyns and fewer Romneys.

          That man is bad news. He’s the GOP candidate because they had no other presentable choice. I was sure it would be him from the beginning: look who else was in contention. They were total losers and unnattractive. Romney is photogenic and thus predestined to get the nod. His father WAS a good man. The apple fell far from the tree.


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Tish Farrell

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