It is not only the idea that government should exclude the use of religious language or ceremony in order to be respectful of all religions or lack thereof. This is, primarily important, but I also find that it is important that religion not inform, support, or embolden any actions of the government.
There are a great many good concepts to be found within many religions, but any such thing as this that is truly good must, beyond the blanket rationale of divine document, be rationalized in a secular reality, explicitly due to the supposed separation of church and state – especially a specific church – but more importantly because it is hopefully at least a better attempt at logic – due to the active formation and validation of thoughts – than the simple regurgitation of a really, really old book.
Although significantly less than my aversion to the concept of God, I do have a problem with the ever elevated position of the president that the inauguration happens to shine a royal spotlight onto.
Following a perhaps imperfect system of checks and balances, beyond the strictly emergency role of sole authority, the president should only act to help make sure that the Judicial and Legislative branches do nothing beyond what is fundamentally necessary for the preservation of every individual’s right to pursue whatever they wish, in whatever fashion, so long as it does not directly interfere with the right of another to do the same.
It is perhaps a faulty perception of mine that the president is something approaching a King. This more regal perception, however, is not mine alone. It is shared by those that adore the authoritative role of the president, those that desire a King to reign over them. It is not only the ceremony and pageantry that is attractive – though the effect of this should not be ignored – it is very truly the direction and purpose that such an illusion provides: the fulfillment of a hope, a hope of finding something, anything to believe in and attach oneself to in order to find meaning, certainty, and confidence, not only in one self, but the very world around one.
This…is the long hard search, both joyous and desperate, that every one of us embarks on. With government ideally providing justice for all, it is for each one of us to each other, to attempt what more we might find to be right and good.
The problem arises when a majority applies this searching to politics, to government, feverishly wishing a new King every four to eight years to arbitrarily impose some elevated morality and purpose on every one.
And more and more, over the years, the power-hungry desires of politicians, however well intentioned, have met with less and less criticism from the citizenry and media, resulting in an increase of power in the position of the president that pushes it closer and closer to that of a King than that of one of several necessary cogs in the system of government.
To be truly fair, I do not necessarily dislike Barack Obama. Our politics certainly differ, but he has already attempted some decent things and may do more – scattered among what may be many more that cause me to cringe.
And as Obama has made his speech, I would like to attempt to take issue with a fault in his approach to government which I hope is evident in the following quote.
“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”
Jon Favreau, Barack Obama
2009 Preidential Inauguration Address
While Obama goes on to state that government programs that are successful will continue and those that are not will end – a sentiment which I find more appealing than the alternative extreme of blindly active, categorically wasteful government – I still take issue with the above quote.
Let us trade out cynics for skeptics and consider arguments more critical, more precise than those that red and blue have adulterated into blind faith and convenient family feuds, but let us not abandon the conversation regarding the limits of government.
No. Instead it would seem philosophy and principle, the abstractions from which we strive to derive our specific concepts of value, are not to be the basis for whether the actions of the government are proper or not. Instead, the measure of our boundless faith-based attempts will be that of a head count of smiling faces amongst any lesser number that are sad.
In contrast to George W. Bush’s presidency of unrepentant cowboy, mustache twirling evil, Obama strikes a very different chord, setting as a foundation the same vague campaign slogans of Hope and Change that, in contrast to McCain’s doomed alternative, helped him win the presidency.
Or as Elizabeth Alexander stated in her inauguration poem, “What if the mightiest word is love […]”
Certainly, what I understand to be Love and Hope…and even Change in many circumstances…are very good things indeed. I just do not think that these are things that should be mandated by the government based on a show of hands.
I don’t believe it
You say that you think you know
The meaning of love
Do you really think it can be told?
You say that you really know
You should check it again
How can you say
What you believe
Will be the key to a
World of love?”
Weasel’s Ripped My Flesh
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