Something to think about…

5 Mar

coexist

I’m feeling very thankful right now for something I don’t usually discuss.  Religious freedom.  (Stick with  me, here…I don’t plan to get preachy or crazy here, but I do have a point…)

I’m thankful every day that I’m an American.  I work in a public school and at the start of each day most of us choose to stand as a school community, place our hands on our hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance in unison.  Every morning, Monday through Friday, I use the minute of silence following the Pledge to meditate and send my eternal gratitude out to my brother-in-law.  It is one of the many moments in my day that I reflect on the sacrifices of our military personnel and their families and a minute I always take to reflect on my brother-in-law’s personal sacrifice and reflect on my unconditional love for my sister and her three beautiful children.  This is my spiritual moment of the day.  It does not have anything to do with religion for me, personally, but I believe this minute of meditation and gratitude to be a “spiritual” moment, all the same.

I am thankful that I life in a country that allows a minute of silence in the public schools for me to have this moment of peace.  I’m sure some students do pray or perform some religious act in private, some use the minute to think about any myriad of teenage issues, some do their best to quietly study, others hurriedly scribble something resembling a homework assignment.  Whatever we all do in that minute is our own business, and it does not have to be associated with religion or spirituality, but that minute is gifted to us to use as we choose as long as we use it quietly with respect for others around us who may be praying/meditating/collecting their thoughts.  I’m quite thankful for that minute, every single day.

I was just reading one of the many blogs I frequent and clicked into some older posts that told the story of a family who came to The States to escape religious persecution in their home country.  This family came here as refugees only recently – this isn’t the story of pilgrims or the Mayflower, this is about real people who literally escaped religious persecution in the 21st Century.  Now, I’m no religious zealot,  (if you know me, you know I’m quite the opposite) but I’m a human being who respects the rights of other human beings and I believe whole-heartedly that we should all have the right to practice religion freely.  I exercise my right by not practicing in organized religion.  It is a personal choice that I won’t defend in the public domain of a web log, but I am, essentially, practicing my religious freedom in America by not attending Church or practicing/following organized religion/doctrine.  I recognize that I am blessed to have this freedom and I do not take it for granted.

persecuted11

If you would like, read the story of this family who came to America to practice the religion of their choice without fear of imprisonment or deportation or cultural/governmental retaliation.  I found their history upsetting but inspirational.  I do not personally know the woman who authors this blog, neither do I know the family about whom she writes, but I am glad I read their story.  It made me, once again, reflect on my life, my culture, and my country in a positive and gracious light – something I do not do often enough.

Part I of the story…

Part II of the story…

Part III of the story…

Part IV of the story…

Perhaps reading their story will make you feel the same appreciation I am currently feeling – appreciation that we live in one of only a few countries that recognize so many of our rights as humans.  I’m turning in to bed tonight feeling very grateful.

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