Wednesday, June 20, 2007

There is room for everyone

Originally, I was going to write a simple yet sarcastic response to a couple of your guest column writers. Both Pat Murphy and Tricia Swartling were going to be recipients. However, I would really like to reach out to the two of them, not with sarcasm, but with a somewhat different point of view.

I have followed Mr. Murphy as a reader of many of his articles. Sometimes what he says makes some practical sense. Other times, what sounds good is simply that, something that sounds good, but how practical is it? An example will follow toward the end of this letter.

To be sure, there are no "fixes" that anyone can imagine that would be either easy to enact as law or apply as extra-law ordinance. It has taken a couple of hundred years for our country to get to where we are now. It doesn't matter if it is our policy on foreign affairs as we try to police the world or if it is the rising price of gasoline, food or medical care. Whatever the topic, not too many people will agree, except to say that there need to be changes to all. That's part of what makes us a great nation. We can disagree, give our point of view, add a solution or two and live to know the wisdom of our choices.

As good as choice is, however, it is actually action that makes a difference. Choose all you want, sit back and do nothing with your choice and nothing changes. For some, the print on the page is their action, for others it is necessary to put action to those writings.

Tricia Swartling has chosen to put into action the convictions that she holds concerning the integration of different cultures into the Wood River Valley. I do not know her plans for bringing about this merging of cultures. I would hope that she would take a page from our history books and allow that there have to be some qualifications for those who wish to call the United States of America home. Way back when, at Ellis Island, there were some basic requirements put upon those who wished to immigrate to this country. I believe that such requirements should remain in place. What is wrong with studying and understanding our Constitution? Our Bill of Rights? Our system of justice? Even the laws of whatever state the immigrant wishes to settle in? What if every applicant were required to learn our system of bartering and our monetary system? It is for sure that if all Americans were to be required to know these things our country would already be in better shape that it is.

Were the founding fathers of our nation so far off the mark that we now must change our Constitution and long-held traditions? Did they not have the insight to understand that what was good for men and women some 200-plus years ago would not fit us today? I believe they knew quite well what the basic rules for a nation had to be in order for that nation to remain intact and free for hundreds of years. They had thousands of years of recorded history to learn from.

One of the sources of study that they drew from for their wisdom was the Holy Bible. It can be seen quoted from, often, in both their personal writings and the documents upon which this country is founded. The ideas expressed in these early documents have most of their footings set forth by individual convictions held by each man, which were learned from a society rich in the pragmatic understanding that the Bible was a clear guideline by which an individual could chart the course of life.

This book would be most helpful even today for the course of private and public living, if individuals would only take the time to study it. In America, even crackpot evangelicals have the right to voice their opinions and to take legal courses of action to try and get those ideas implemented as law. In America, there really is room, even for those who are intolerant.

Stephen Peterson


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