By Kennedy Corr, Cody Wyoming
“We are the United States of America. We believe in freedom and God and anyone who tells us otherwise can fight my second amendment.”
One of the most common themes I have seen since the tragedy in Uvalde, TX – and let’s be honest, even way before then – is the idea that Christianity and brute force are the solution to the problems we are currently facing in this country.
While you’re practicing your second amendment rights, may I remind you of our first amendment rights? Specifically, Freedom of Religion. Just because you were raised Christian, everyone in this country does not have to live to those standards. You are not allowed to persecute someone else because they do not believe the same things as you – so who do you think you are to create legislation around it?
“We are America. We were born on freedom ideologies – no other country can tell us what to do, we govern ourselves.” Great, dandy.
But with that freedom came the idea of respite for the rest of the world – people came to America seeking those values which then led to what was at one point an epithet of this place we call home. The Great American Melting Pot!
We are a blend of culture, religions, races, and ideologies. This is evident from the Mayflower, to Ellis Island, all the way up to and including the immigrants entering our country today. The idea was that everyone could come to America to practice their own beliefs safely… but instead, in this day and age, we are just as hostile – no, we have become more hostile – than some of the countries people have come here to escape from.
We are a country at war with itself, and anyone who says differently is choosing to keep their eyes closed.
And it pains me because I can’t do a damn thing about it. People scream, but are never heard. We plead to officials, but they have their own agenda, and it seems nothing will make them listen.
I’m told, and I understand, that as a middle class white person I have a level of privilege. But while it’s the type of privilege that keeps me safe from systemic oppression, it’s not the kind of privilege that will get anything done. So I have to watch it all happen while chained to the ground. It’s a sick form of torture.
However, what may be even worse is the fact that we won’t even listen to one another… We try to have a conversation with a neighbor, and immediately defenses are put up and we shut out even the slightest idea that our thoughts might not be right. Harsh truth: none of us are right. Literally, none of us!
Our country is built on checks and balances – we have a two party system, bicameral legislation, and three branches of the federal government, so that all members of this country can be represented. This melting pot of cultures led to cities with different needs than rural areas. Capitalism led to differing classes that have different needs from one another. And we have become so focused on what we need and want for ourselves, we have forgotten to think about our neighbor.
So no, neither of us are right – it’s about balance; and until we begin to listen again, we are just tragically spinning our wheels. Until then, we will be a country at war with itself.
We have dug our heels so far in the ground, we can’t help one another out of the hole to see the big picture clearly.
I grew up and am a practicing Christian. I am surrounded by and support our hunters and shooting enthusiasts, and I have family in Law Enforcement. I only call attention to these facts because I need it to be known that I understand what all of these things mean and why many are fighting so hard to keep these practices alive.
But I also know that for someone who grew up knowing police brutality, a greater police force means nothing to them.
The kids who survived that school shooting, they don’t care that skeet shooting is a sport. They see a gun and it scares them now, so why would more guns be the solution for them?
Someone who has lived through Christian persecution doesn’t want to go near it with a ten foot pole – how on earth do you think you’re going to get them into a church?
The solution to our problem doesn’t lie within party lines – no amount of Republican or Democratic force can change what we have going here. The balance that is needed is buried under years and years and years of legislation and enforcement that has been marred by money, power, and greed… on both sides.
So, I ask you to listen to your neighbor. I ask you to just consider that what we are struggling with here in Wyoming is very, very different from what those in urban areas are struggling with. The person who walks their commute doesn’t get why diesel prices have affected us so much.
We have small town values in our local law enforcement departments, so we may not understand what it means to be scared of a rigged system. We are living in a time with more access to information than ever could have been imagined, but it is riddled with dramatics and falsehoods that make it hard to keep truth from deceit.
So don’t condemn your neighbor. Not when you don’t know their truth, just like they don’t know yours. Listen to one another, help each other out of the mud, and be the balance this country was built on. Allow them the same freedoms you want for yourself.
Be the United States of America.